Why do Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas?

This may sound absurd but I thought of it actually after reading the bible front to back. Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are spoken of numerous times in the bible as days which the people have to observe. I notice however there is never a reference in the New Testament saying to observe anything except when Jesus says to remember his last supper and “do this in remembrance of me”. So I was just curious as to why, I mean obviously Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity, the entire religion is dictated by the resurrection, however celebrating it is never told of in the bible like the Jewish festivals are in the Torah or even Muslim holidays and observances are spoken of in the Qur’an such as Ramadan.

Complex, read here about Easter: newadvent.org/cathen/05228a.htm

You’re giving one of the explanations of why no one can deny that our faith is based on the Scripture and Tradition.
People started to remember Jesus’ resurrection and birth after the event, making attending Easter and Christmas part of Tradition and as such, part of our faith and practice.

By the way, Easter should always be seen in connection with the Holy Week (“do this in memory of me”) and Christmas in conjunction with the Epiphany (which comes from the Jewish rule to bring the firstborn to the temple, which is spiritually speaking the reason why we come to Church on Christmas - to venerate the firstborn that God brought to us).

You also refer to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Jesus says He came to complete the Law. Like “do not kill” becomes “do not hate”, you could find the following analogies:
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of creation - Christmas is the celebration of the new Creation in Jesus.
Yom Kippur is a time of fasting and reconciliation - Easter is the celebration, after a period of fasting, that Jesus reconciled us with God.

I like to look at things this way and explain it to myself; it doesn’t mean it’s theologically sound :slight_smile:

One thing the Catholic Encylopedia states about Epiphany is that “Owing no doubt to the vagueness of the name Epiphany, very different manifestations of Christ’s glory and Divinity were celebrated in this feast quite early in its history, especially the Baptism, the miracle at Cana, the Nativity, and the visit of the Magi.”

And for* Gregory of Nazianzus* sermons XXXIX and XL given on 6 and 7 Jan.: “The first of these two sermons is headed eis ta hagia phota, referring to the lights carried on that day to symbolize the spiritual illumination of baptism, and the day must carefully be distinguished from the Feast of the Purification, also called Festum luminum for a wholly different reason.”

Martindale, C.C. (1909). Epiphany. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. newadvent.org/cathen/05504c.htm

Jewish people also celebrate Hanukkah, but nowhere is this holiday mentioned in scripture. The Jewish people themselves chose to commemorate this day as a perpetual celebration and memorial of a wonderful miracle that God performed for them.

How much more wonderful are Christmas and Easter–the birth and resurrection of our Lord.? These are by far the greatest miracles that God has ever “performed”.

I am not sure if Purim is said to be celebrated in the Hebrew Bible either, but it is a popular holiday.

Sounds good to me!

Hanukkah is in 1 Maccabees

Thank you. That is true, but they were not commanded to celebrate it, or Purim either, as they were commanded to celebrate Yom Kippur or the Passover, which they were commanded by God to celebrate every year, forever, as an ever-lasting covenant.

If we presume the apostles celebrated the traditional Jewish Passover and then we look about one and a half century in advance and see what Christians were practising, we find they were practising a feast called Pascha which focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus and the exodus was mentioned (see Melito of Sardis: Peri Pascha).

We find that this Pascha and the Jewish Passover occurred within or very directly with each other at the same time, the western church celebrated Pascha on the Sunday following the Jewish Passover and the Eastern Churches on the Jewish day itself.

We go further into the future with the council of Nicaea which mandated a universal day all the churches, eastern and western ought celebrate the feast. We then go some time in the future to when Christianity is being established in England and the feast which is known as Pascha or resurrection day in most every other country is now called Easter for some reason.

If one looks at the data beyond the bible, and wants to understand the subsequent information, I think the case is pretty evident. Christians at first retained a lot of Jewish liturgy and this is only natural since the apostles were Jewish, but when Christians and I think this happened with the apostles themselves, came to reorientate everything around Jesus. They made him the focus of their liturgy and reflected on how the Old Exodus is fulfilled in the new Exodus, brought by Christ, for the remission of sins. It’s a natural development, that Easter or Pascha, is a development of the old Jewish Passover, which should be evident in the names of the feasts.

If I remember correctly, Isn’t Purim the holiday that stems from the book of Esther? I am not sure whether it is “taught that they must observe it” but I believe from when I read it that Purim had it’s roots in the Esther story.

And btw in a sense you were right. Jews do not regard the Maccabees books as scripture. Isn’t that somewhat ironic that they have a holiday that is in a book they reject, yet is in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles? Nah Hanukkah really is a minor holiday in Judaism. The big ones are Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover. Some believe that Hanukkah, although it was always somewhat celebrated, was only recently celebrated more so in an attempt to give Jewish people a reason to celebrate around the time Christians celebrate Christmas. Actually according to some things I have read, some ultra orthodox Jews believe this is an attempt at assimilating and is even blasphemy to celebrate something just to give them something to celebrate because Christians do. Which in some ways this does have merit, as in I can understand why they could be angry about it. The point is the Hanukkah story is a nice story about faith and all, but I can think of about 50 other miracles that occur in the Old Testament that out do it.

yes. you are correct. it is an interesting and colorful holiday.
noisemakers and costumes. the Jews were saved again!

It’s interesting, but some people have speculated, that it was right around the time of the anniversary which would later be celebrated as Hanukkah, that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”

Probably just an unfounded speculation, but Cool, huh?

That would be cool.

  1. Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ Birth - who doesn’t like a good party? And, as Christians, we are grateful that Jesus was born. I’m assuming you love it when people remember your birthday and brings gifts and food to celebrate the fact that you were born.

  2. Easter - to celebrate resurrection - without the resurrection, there’s no need for salvation.

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