I go through the whole chapter of Romans 14 in detail in my article - Holdiays, Meat Sacrificed to Idols, and the New Testament.
Today, I want to focus only on a small part of this chapter:
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks." -Romans 14:5-6
When I used to celebrate Christmas and Easter, I used to run to this verse, whenever I'd feel convicted about it, or I'd hear/read others explaining the pagan-ness of it, etc. Then, one day I took a long, honest look.
The above passage of Scripture is not talking about pagan holidays. It's talking about the Jewish feasts, such as those listed in Leviticus 23. While the book of Romans was sent to the Romans, who are not Jewish, there were Jewish people there, and there were also Judaizers trying to get the new Christians to keep the Torah. To learn about why Christians are not under the Torah, see my Torah vs. Grace series.
"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." -Galatians 2:11-16
The main theme running through the book of Galatians is about how a Christian is not under the law of the Old Testament, but is under the New Covenant. This is also a main theme that runs through the book of Romans. Read side by side, there are a LOT of similarities between Galatians and Romans.
In the above quoted passage of Romans 14:5-6, it was talking about Christians who were weak in the faith, and thought they had to keep the Old Covenant feasts. These Christians are on the milk of the Word - often being new Christians. Christians on the meat of the Word are not to judge (condemn) those who are weak in the faith.
Take a look at the context of Romans 13 and Romans 15. They are both topically about being under the laws of the land, receiving Christians who are weak in the faith, and that we are no longer under the covenant laws in the Old Testament. They are fulfilled.
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." -Romans 13:10
"Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" -Romans 15:8
Since the chapter before and the chapter after Romans 14 discusses how the Christian isn't under the law, then we know that the meats and days we are told about in Romans 14 are not about Christmas, Easter, and other pagan holidays. It is about Christians not having to keep the Old Testament feasts, but that Christians who do keep them should not judge those who don't, and vice versa.
We have now established this via context. Let us now confirm this stance via letting Scripture interpret Scripture. We will now visit other Scriptures which are parallel to the above quoted Romans 14 passage:
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." -Colossians 2:14-17
Clearly, Colossians 2:14-17 is discussing the same thing as Romans 14:5-6:
|Romans 14:5-6||Colossians 2:14-17|
|One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.||Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.|
Now that we have established that contextually and with another Scriptural witness, that Romans 14 is about the meats and holy days of the Torah, and not about pagan holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, the question pops up - then, is it okay for a Christian to keep the Torah feasts? Romans 14 lets us know that the weak Christian may have been judaized into doing this, and Colossians 2 informs us that these Torah feasts and holy days were shadows of things to come.
It would look like a Christian need not keep the Old Covenant holy days. Let us look to another parallel Scripture to Romans 14 and Colossians 2 for a more certain conclusion on this matter:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." -Galatians 4:4-11
Observing Torah holidays is here mentioned as turning to WEAK and beggarly elements. Those who are weak in the faith may think they need to keep Torah - Romans 14 tells us.
Paul is explaining in Galatians 4 that Christians are not to keep the Torah, and not to keep the Old Testament feasts or holy days. For more information on this, see my two article links, towards the beginning of this article.
Without a doubt, one's quoting Romans 14 as a reason to justify celebrating Christmas, Easter, etc. is taking the Scripture out of context. The Bible is clear that Christians are not to celebrate heathen holidays, and that didn't change with the establishment of the New Covenant. The New Covenant fulfills the feasts, holy days, Sabbaths, and Levitical laws of Torah, but it does not abolish the moral laws.
"Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain" -Jeremiah 10:2-3a
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." -Joshua 24:15
"The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord." -Jeremiah 3:6-14
The New Testament reiterates the same:
"This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch [The false Christ born around Christmas day. His mother is Ashtoreth, where we get "Easter."], and the star of your god Remphan [Remphan is for Saturn of Saturnalia, where the pagan Christmas festivals came from], figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon [As an interesting side note - the Mystery Babylon religion started these pagan holidays, and passed them down through the centuries to all cultures]. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." - Acts 7:37-51
Christian, have you committed spiritual adultery, and played the harlot? The Scriptures define this form of adultery as doing as the heathen do, and whoring after their gods and their religious traditions. Easter and Christmas are both pagan holidays that were celebrated by the heathen long before Christ was born on this earth in the flesh. These helladays just had different names then, but are still largely celebrated the same today, as they were then.