In my hometown, only one day after the commercial madness of Christmas, the Chocolate Easter eggs were for sale everywhere. Do we even want to be part of celebrating seasons that have been so hijacked by the world? And are the feasts even important?
Throughout history, Christians have taken different viewpoints on what or what not to celebrate, usually all for very good reasons.
Celebrating feasts is not fundamental for your faith
But let’s start with the apostle Paul, who in my opinion states that celebrating feasts is not fundamental for your faith when he says in Romans 14:5: “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”
He even notes that it can be dangerous, if people slavishly follow rules about special seasons in the hope that they can earn their salvation in this way. He writes to the Galatians: “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (Galatians 4:10-11).
The problem here was that new believers who were not Jews, started following teachers who said they should keep all of the Jewish law, including religious festivals. Paul considers this very dangerous, as it destroyed the freedom they had found in Jesus.
Remembering the great things God has done for us
But how about today? Some of our festivals, like Good Friday/Easter and Pentecost, are based on ancient Jewish celebrations. The death of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave them new meaning. We do not have to celebrate them as a rule, and we do not have to celebrate them precisely on those days. But I think it is good to have certain set dates when we remember with great thankfulness the great things God has done for us. That is why God instated the original Passover feast (which later became Good Friday), so His people would remember how He delivered them from slavery.
Unite the church
These celebrations also unite the church worldwide, as believers in every culture find ways of remembering together what God has done and testify to those around them. It is true that particularly in former Christian nations, the festivals have been commercialized almost beyond recognition. Still, they provide many opportunities for Christians to talk to non-believers about the reasons we celebrate and to invite people to special church celebrations.
Christmas is a funny one, because it is not based on the Jewish calendar, but has been timed to coincide with pagan midwinter celebrations. It has also incorporated pagan symbols, like a Christmas tree. For that reason, there are Christians who do not want to celebrate Christmas. Still I think that Christ’s coming into the world was such a heaven and earth shifting event, that it deserves to be celebrated with joy. So, if you have trouble with the pagan calendar, pick another date or ditch the tree if you feel it is not Christian, but celebrate what God has done.
The Lord’s supper
The one feast we may not ignore is the celebration of the Lord’s supper or communion/mass. Because Jesus commanded “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). It is not tied to a certain date, but a regular moment of reflection and thankfulness.
As humans, we need the earthly reminders of bread and wine, of days and rituals, and of physical gathering with others, to remind us of the spiritual reality of God’s salvation. So, embrace the festivals not be a burden or a law, but as an opportunity to remember and rejoice.