Christmas or Passover? | Tomorrow’s World

Christmas or Passover?

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Christmas is perhaps the most popular holiday in the world. People from a variety of perspectives and societies—from the devoutly religious who cry, “put Christ back in Christmas,” to famous atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris—participate in some form of Christmas celebrations. With Christmas rapidly approaching, let’s make what some may consider a strange comparison: Christmas versus Passover.

What does Passover have to do with Christmas? A brief look shows that these two observances oppose each other and provides a telling perspective on what constitutes true Christianity. Should a Christian keep Christmas, Passover, both, or neither? Using the Bible, we’ll answer this important question.

What does the Bible say about Christmas? Actually, nothing. The Bible doesn’t mention Christmas, and while it gives a small amount of information about Jesus’ birth, it contains no instruction for Christians to celebrate Christmas at any time or in any way. And, with the information it does give, we can determine that Christ was born in the Autumn—not on December 25. Then why is Christmas celebrated on December 25? According to, “Pope Julius I [about 350 AD] chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival” (“History of Christmas”).

To reiterate, Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible; Jesus’ birth is never celebrated, nor are instructions given to celebrate it; Jesus and His followers didn’t celebrate it; and His birth was not on December 25. The Bible doesn’t mention Christmas trees directly, but there is a very similar-sounding practice of decorating trees in Jeremiah 10:2–5—which God condemns.

Now, consider Passover.

The Bible mentions Passover dozens of times, with the first description occurring in Exodus 12, where God instructs Moses to command the Israelites to kill a lamb, put its blood on the doorposts of their homes, and stay in their homes all night while the firstborn in Egypt are killed in the last of the ten plagues. From that point forward, Passover was one of God’s special feast days (Leviticus 23:4–5) observed by generations of God’s people, such as in the days of Joshua (Joshua 5:10), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:1), Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:1), and Ezra (Ezra 6:19–20). Every year, it foreshadowed an enormous future event: the death of the Son of God, who is often called the Lamb (John 1:29; Revelation 5:6; 7:14; 22:1–3) and even “our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7) in the New Testament.

The New Testament gives numerous examples of Jesus Christ and His followers specifically celebrating the Passover. Jesus said He greatly desired to eat the Passover with His disciples (Luke 22:15). He explained before His sacrifice how the broken unleavened bread represented His broken body and how the wine symbolized His shed blood, as core aspects of the new covenant (Luke 22:14–20).

Passover was a vital commemoration for the First Century Church, as the Apostle Paul showed when he instructed the gentile Church in Corinth when, how, and why to keep the Christian Passover, and even recorded Jesus’ words on His last Passover celebration before His crucifixion:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).

Paul explained how Christians, by celebrating Passover through eating the bread and drinking the wine, remember and proclaim the death of the Savior until He returns.

The contrast between Christmas and Passover is fascinating. One is extremely popular and celebrates the birth of Jesus. The other, which isn’t as popular, remembers and proclaims His death. One has roots in pagan customs and traditions, while the other comes straight from the Bible. One was never kept by Jesus or any of God’s people. The other was kept by Jesus and His followers, and by God’s people for thousands of years.

So, which day should Christians celebrate? If we use the Bible as our guide—turning to the Old Testament or the New, the Torah or the Gospels, Exodus or 1 Corinthians, the words of Moses or of Jesus and His apostles—we only find one of these two holidays, and it is described many times. We don’t find the other holiday in the Bible even once. Thus, an objective and biblical conclusion emerges: There is actually no comparison between Christmas and Passover.

If you would like to read more about Passover and the other biblical festivals, please order our free booklet The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. And if you would like to learn more about Christmas and its fascinating origin and evolution over time, please order our booklet Is Christmas Christian?