I don't enjoy conflicts with others. Sometimes I struggle to stand up for myself because of my natural desire to be liked and accepted. So I usually have some degree of stress when people ask me why I don’t celebrate Christmas. I'm a Christian, after all, and Christmas is perhaps the world's most beloved holiday. I know that Christians and non-Christians alike experience it as a meaningful time of family and goodwill. But my family and I have chosen not to celebrate it for reasons we find overwhelmingly compelling.
I don’t enjoy being thought of as strange or as a “Scrooge.” I also do not wish to shame anyone or to elevate myself as more righteous (because I’m definitely not). I just want to transparently lay out the reasons I don’t observe Christmas, and to make myself available to explain our family's decisions regarding Christmas.
The biggest reason I personally am uncomfortable with Christmas is its questionable history. It seems like many people I’ve talked to are familiar with how Christmas was developed historically. The Beyond Today website has a lot of articles explaining in detail the ancient pagan rituals that were adopted and sanitized by the Catholic church in order to satisfy the wishes of some then-recent pagan converts. See Christmas Before Christ and Christmas Reconsidered for more information. In my mind, Christmas feels like a holiday that was never supposed to be a part of Christian worship. It was never even a part of God’s design for the Christian Church. If you read through the entire New Testament there is nothing that mentions Christmas. You do see references to the keeping of God’s festivals such as Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles, even up to 50 years after Christ’s death. See God’s Festivals in the New Testament for specific Bible verses. Our family celebrates these festivals with our Church family, and we learn so much every year.
I am not saying that we must live in the exact same way as the first century Christians did. However, I feel nervous about deciding on my own to add in holidays for the worship of God, that God never sanctions or even mentions in the Bible. It seems to me that God likes to be very specific about how He is worshiped (Mark 7:7). Why change what God has established? Also, God directly condemns pagan worship in many places in the Bible (Deuteronomy 12:29-32). Why try to worship Him with a holiday that gets so many of its traditions directly from ancient pagan practices? To me, it seems like the exact opposite of what God wants.
The second reason that Christmas concerns me is that it distracts everyone from what God’s future plans for humanity are. I absolutely believe in Jesus Christ and the virgin birth, but Jesus never said to celebrate His birth. Jesus’ ministry was concentrated on one major topic—the good news of the Kingdom of God. He consistently directed everyone’s attention to that coming day when He would return to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. We are to follow His example and share this good news with all!
Our world is in desperate need of hope and answers. And God gave us a way to proclaim the gospel of salvation for all mankind. Keeping God’s festivals directs my thoughts to the grandness of God’s plan. Each of the seven feasts shows a step in God’s plan for redeeming and saving humanity. For example, the Feast of Trumpets, which is observed in the fall, points forward to the last trumpet call of the angel of God as Christ returns to earth and the saints are resurrected. Now that is something to be hopeful about! That is a celebration that illuminates what God is going to do about this sad, sin-sick world that we are living in. You can read more about these Holy Days and their incredible meaning here: Jesus Christ and the Meaning of the Biblical Holy Days.
Jesus told His followers: “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). A few verses later He adds, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word”(John 14:23.) I realize many people are keeping Christmas with the desire to please Jesus and show Him love. I wonder, though, if Christ would rather that we show Him our devotion through obedience to the commands already outlined in the Bible, such as avoiding pagan practices and observing the festivals He gave us.
I could go on about other parts of Christmas that concern me, and if you’ve read this far, thank you for taking the time to read. I do not set out with the intent to offend anyone, but often I do offend people when I talk about Christmas. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they will do. But if you are feeling the least bit conflicted about keeping Christmas this year, just know that you are not alone. There are thousands of Christians who have felt that call and heeded it. It’s certainly not an easy road to walk, but you will be okay. God has taken care of my family through many years of not keeping Christmas and He can take care of you too. I am grateful for my Church family as well, in the support we give each other as we try to obey God with trusting hearts. May God bless you in your journey of following Him with a trusting and obedient heart.