Considering the pagan origins of Christmas, or Easter for that matter, why do we celebrate them in the Lord’s Church? Does it matter that it has changed? Have the Brethren ever made a statement of some kind that showed the Lord’s approval and I’m just not aware? Thank you.
What an interesting question! I will address this from the perspective of the origin of Christmas, although the same logic and ideas apply to Easter as well.
In 1973, President Howard W. Hunter, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, gave a talk called “The Real Christmas“. He confirmed that “The commencement of the holiday lies in pagan worship long before Christianity” and that, as Christianity became increasingly prevalent in the world, “The pagan worship of the sun, deeply rooted in Roman culture, was replaced by one of the greatest festivals among Christians. Christmas has come down to us as a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing – a day of good cheer and goodwill to men.”
It is also probably true that Christ was not born on December 25. At least some LDS sources have cited April 6 as the probable date of Christ’s birth. See, e.g., Chapter 3: “The Son of the Eternal Father”, The Life and Teaching of Jesus and His Apostles, available at Chapter 3: The Son of the Eternal Father (“Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem, April 6, 1 B.C.”).
So, given the pagan origins of December 25, should we take down our Christmas trees, burn our stockings, and refuse to sing any Christmas carols? Hardly!
The significance of Christmas is not the day it happenes to fall on, but the remembrance and celebration of Christ that happens within. As President Hunter states, “How is Christmas regarded today? The legend of Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the decorations of tinsel and mistletoe, and the giving of gifts all express to us the spirit of the day we celebrate; but the true spirit of Christmas lies much deeper than these. It is found in the life of the Savior, in the principles he taught, in his atoning sacrifice – which becomes our great heritage.” “The Real Christmas”
So, while it is an interesting historical fact that December 25 once was the time when pagan celebrations occurred and is probably not the day Christ was born, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas to its fullest and having a special day when we remember Christ and what He did for each of us.