Christmas is often confused with taking the place of a pagan holiday. It’s actually not the case though. Which pagan holiday would it have replaced? There are 3 theories.
Winter solstice**: Let the record show that the soltice, Dec 22nd, is NOT Dec 25th. The ancients were very well versed in astrology/astronomy and would not have made such a silly mistake as to celebrate the soltice 3 days late.
Saturnalia: Another theory is that the Christmas replaced the pagan celebration of “Saturnalia”…but this was celebrated on Dec 17th. Even when it was eventually celebrated for 5 straight days, it ended before Christmas. Not a valid candidate.
Sol Invictus: The third and last theory is that Christmas replaced the celebration of “Sol Invictus” or, the unconquered sun, which was in fact celebrated on Dec 25th. The cult that celebrated this holiday, however, didn’t start until 273 AD. Christmas was being celebrated on Dec 25th in many places long before that. But why did they choose Dec 25th for Christs birth? That reason is related to easter.
Easter does not replace a pagan holiday. We don’t know exactly when Christ was born…but we do know when he died. After passover. He rose 3 days after that. So, in effect, we know when during the year that Christ was raised. In ancient times, people believed that important people (kings, prophets, ect) would die on the same day they were conceived. Therefore, in some people’s mind, Christ must have been conceived on what we know as Good Friday. What is approximately 9 months from then? Christmas!
Anyways, all of the above info was relayed to me by a scholar priest on relevant radio. This guy knows his history, and it makes a whole lot of sense to me. Go ahead and research the facts yourself! Hope this helps!
Lots of cultures (past and present) celebrate different holidays around this time, but Christmas, you can trust, is purely Christian.