Christmas as a holiday was not observed until well after the biblical era. The early church celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, not His birth. In fact, Christmas was not given any kind of official recognition by the church until the mid-fifth century.
Partly because so many Christmas customs seem to have their roots in paganism, Christians have often been resistant to some of the rituals of the holiday. The Puritans in early America rejected Christmas celebrations altogether. They deliberately worked on December 25 to show their disdain. A law passed in England in 1644 reflected a similar Puritan influence; the law made Christmas Day an official working day.
Christians today are generally not opposed to celebrating Christmas. The holiday itself is nothing, and observing it is not a question of right or wrong, similar to what Paul wrote in Romans 14:5-6. Every day—including Christmas—is a celebration for us who know and love Him.
How we observe Christmas is the central issue. Do we observe it for the Lord’s sake or for our own sinful self-gratification? Do we even think about why and how we celebrate it? That is the heart of the matter. Christmas is an opportunity for us to exalt Jesus Christ. We ought to take advantage of it.
** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.