Does the Mas in Christmas Mean Death?

A Messianic Jew brought it to my attention that not only was the Christmas holiday an abomination because of it’s Pagan roots but simply saying “Merry Christmas” was also an abomination.

She justified this by explaining to me that the “mas” part at the end of the word Christmas means death. So by saying “Merry Christmas” you’re actually saying “Merry Christ’s Death”.

She also told me since Catholics call their worship service Mass, they were essentially worshiping Jesus’ death weekly.

Come on guys, lay the truth on me:)

The term “Mass” is derived from the Late Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding formula of Mass in Latin: “Ite, missa est” (“Go; it is the dismissal”).[1][2] “In antiquity, missa simply meant ‘dismissal’. In Christian usage, however, it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word ‘dismissal’ has come to imply a ‘mission’. These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, 51)

The “mas” in “Christmas” simply means “Mass.” It is the Christ-Mass, the Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ. Other days throughout the year have similar titles (Michaelmas on September 29, Candelmas on February 2).

Mass does not mean death. It comes from the ending of the Mass in Latin, “Ite, Missa est.” This means “Go, you are sent.” “Missa” is the root word meaning “sending” that forms the basis for our word “transmission” and other such words. I would be wary of what a Messianic Jew would say about the Church–they tend to be virulently anti-Catholic.


It might be interesting to see what she says if you ask her for her source.

I’ve come to realize that “Messianic Jew” can also be relabeled as “Protestant Jew”.

I did but I couldn’t make much sense of it.

They want to destroy Christmas…All there is to it.

Don’t we celebrate Christ’s death (and resurrection) in every mass? :slight_smile:

With the mass, do we celebrate death, or sacrifice?

“There is no greater love than this, to give up one’s life for a friend.” Is this a statement of death, or love?

"He became obedient unto death."Is this extolling the virture of death, or obedience?

Christmas is a celebration of the Saviors birth, not death. Even so, the reason his birth is joyful is because He would die for all mankind…a sacrifice born out of love and obedience.

Yes, “Merry Christmas” is appropriate. It’s the most joyful time of the year. Christ saves us all from our sins! This is a celebration of life!!! The greatest gift of all. :slight_smile:

“Dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life.” It’s hard to understand for people who don’t really think about it.

“but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”


We remember the passion and death of Christ at Mass and also his resurrection. And that is why we receive Holy Communion in joy.

Yes, well, I guess that’s what I was trying to say. :slight_smile:

Also, just because Christmas was placed on the calendar to discourage celebration of an existing pagan holiday (winter solstice, etc.) and furthermore borrowed some of its symbolism does NOT make Christmas a pagan holiday. Worship requires intent. If we decide that a Christmas tree stands for the light of Christ in the world and a wreath is green and round to symbolize God’s eternal life, then it DOES. You can’t be tricked into worshiping another god.

The idea is no different than the effort to Christianize Halloween customs.

I’ve actually heard that Christmas did NOT replace a pagan holiday…that’s a topic for another thread though. :slight_smile:

…yep, it’s what the early Christians preached and practiced: 1 Corinthians 11:26 :slight_smile:

That’s correct. As I understand, the pagans (contrary to popular belief) had not calculated the solstice times correctly, and as a result it moved forward a couple days each year. By the time the Church set Dec 25th as the Feast of the Nativity, the pagans were celebrating the solstice in, I believe, late October. It wasn’t until later that actual astronomers determined the solstice date exactly as occuring a few days before Christmas that the pagans later MOVED their solstice celebration BACK to Dec 22nd.

It was STILL later in history when the Church, having ALREADY established Dec 25th as the feast of the Nativity (and December 6th as the Feast of St Nicholaus of Myra) even came in contact with the pagans of England, who by then were back to celebrating the solstice on Dec 22nd anyway. Prior to that, there was not contact between these two people.

In other words, speculating that Christmas took the place of a pagan holiday on the solstice is disingeniouos, unless one is willing to admit that Catholic bishops could magically be aware of pagan celebrations which were, at that point, occuring a thousand miles from the farthest northern reaches of Catholicism.

The reason is that Christ died on a March 25th, which the people believed was the anniversary of His conception (because they believed that the true prophets die on the anniversary of being conceived) so they started celebrating the Annunciation every March 25th, and then about 80 years later began to celebrate Christmas exactly nine months later than March 25th, which happens to be December 25th.

Neither date has anything whatsoever to do with the timing of any pagan holidays.

And by the way, Hallowe’en is a Christian holiday that the pagans very recently adopted (within my lifetime), and paganized. The original Druids never celebrated Hallowe’en. :wink:

In addition, let the record show that the soltice, Dec 22nd, is NOT Dec 25th. The ancients were very well verserd in astrology/astronomy and would not have made such a silly mistake as to celebrate the soltice 3 days late.

The other theories are 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.

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. :slight_smile:

How about “we celebrate Passover weekly”. (Jesus is our Paschal Lamb) Actually it’s daily; but who’s counting? :wink:

Even when confronted with this stunning evidence, she probably would find some objection, but I’m sure she won’t have any instant response that wouldn’t also demean Passover itself. :frowning:

Since we’re now discussing theories on how Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25, how about this one?

Chanukah (the Jewish Feast of Lights) is celebrated on Chislev 25. The month that corresponds most directly to Chislev is December. Jesus is the Light of the World. Thus, it is appropriate for Christians to celebrate a feast for Jesus as the Light of the World on the 25th of the month that best aligns with Chislev (with the shift to the Julian/Gregorian solar calendar to provide greater distinction from the Jewish celebration).

Shall I also point out that we celebrate Christmas as an Octave (which can correspond to the eight days of Chanukah)?

Dear brother Constantine,

I know that what you say is the current understanding of the word “Mass” in the Latin Catholic Church (referring to the dismissal of the faithful after the Liturgy). I think the meaning changed in the 9th century in the Latin Church.

In the Oriental Tradition, however, “Mass” is normally used in the original sense - the dismissal of the catechumens. So “Mass” to Orientals indeed refers to the Eucharistic Sacrifice.


There is certainly a parallel there, as well. :slight_smile:

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