Some Old Light:
Watchtower, December 1904, pg 364: " EVEN though Christmas day is not the real anniversary of our Lord's birth, but more properly the annunciation day or the date of his human begetting ( Luke 1:28 ), nevertheless, since the celebration of our Lord's birth is not a matter of divine appointment or injunction, but merely a tribute of respect to him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date. We may as well join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand event on the day which the majority celebrate --"Christmas day."
The Golden Age, December 24, 1919, page 215: "Christmas is regarded by many people as the date of the birth of the babe Jesus in a manger at Bethlehem. Whether the date is correct or not is of small importance, but the event was and is of the greatest importance."
Then the New Light:
Yearbrook, 1975, page 147: “At our early conventions, between sessions as the friends were chatting together,” writes Anna E. Zimmerman, “you might have seen some friends hand you their ‘Manna’ book [Daily Heavenly Manna for the Household of Faith], asking you to please write your name and address in their ‘Manna.’ You would write it on the blank page opposite the date of your birthday, and when your birthday came along and they read their text that morning for the day they might decide to write you a card or letter, wishing you a happy birthday.”
Yes, in those earlier days, dedicated Christians commemorated birthdays. Well, then, why not celebrate the supposed birthday of Jesus? This they also did for many years. In Pastor Russell’s day, Christmas was celebrated at the old Bible House in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Ora Sullivan Wakefield recalls that Brother Russell gave members of the Bible House family five- or ten-dollar gold pieces at Christmas. Mabel P. M. Philbrick remarks: “A custom that certainly would not be carried on today was the celebration of Christmas with a Christmas tree in the Bethel dining room. Brother Russell’s usual ‘Good morning, all’ was changed to ‘Merry Christmas, all.’”
What caused the Bible Students to stop celebrating Christmas? Richard H. Barber gave this answer: “I was asked to give an hour talk over a [radio] hookup on the subject of Christmas. It was given December 12, 1928, and published in The Golden Age #241 and again a year later in #268. That talk pointed out the pagan origin of Christmas. After that, the brothers at Bethel never celebrated Christmas again.”
“Did we mind putting those pagan things away?” asks Charles John Brandlein. “Absolutely not. This was just complying with new things learned, and we had never known before they were pagan. It was just like taking a soiled garment off and throwing it away.” Next, birthday celebrations and Mother’s Day were discarded—more creature worship. Sister Lilian Kammerud recalls: “How readily the brothers all dropped these holidays and admitted they were glad to be free. New truths always make us happy and . . . we felt we were privileged to know things that others were ignorant about.”