Quitting Christmas Q+A

Qutting Christmas questions and answers from someone who's been there | Land of Honey

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For the first 20 years of my life I was an enthusiastic Christmas celebrator. Christmas was special to me and I felt it had spiritual significance. My family loved celebrating the birth of our Messiah. We never did much with Santa and our family emphasized that the point of this season was Yahusha. We meant well.

Of course, Scripture doesn't teach that we can do what we want as long as we have good intentions. As with Hanukkah, there are no passages of Scripture telling us to celebrate Christmas, or even the Messiah's birth. Most of us have heard of the paganism involved in this holiday, so I don't want to take the time to extrapolate the pagan connections to Christmas, but I would recommend this video if you are interested in learning more.

I stopped celebrating Christmas and I know that most people don't get that, especially at this time of year. It's not a subject that most people are willing to talk about. I get that because I used to get defensive about it as well. I thought I would address here some of the questions I've gotten over the years about deciding to no longer celebrate Christmas. Sometimes it's easier to learn when you're alone with an article than when you're confronted by a person you disagree with. :)

Why did you decide to quit Christmas? It started with a prayer, "Take away things in my life that don't honor you." This was at a point where we had already made some changes in our faith practice, like observing Shabbat. Soon after this prayer lots of things about the origins of Christmas came up, and we also heard of many others who stopped celebrating after a closer look at the origins of this day. We knew that YHWH was speaking to us.

A big eye opener for me was realizing that most of the world, religious or not, believers in Messiah or not, celebrates Christmas. If other cultures and religions have no problem with joining in with our holidays, how 'faith based' can they be? Because outside western culture most people can see Christmas for what it really is, and that's not a celebration of the Messiah.

Was it hard to stop celebrating Christmas? Very! We didn't choose to walk away because we didn't enjoy it nor value it. It felt like something was missing when we didn't put stockings up or bake Christmas cookies, but we knew we wanted to follow YHWH. The first year or two is like working to lift a very heavy weight from your chest, definitely a difficult process and not fun at the time, but afterwards you feel so much better. Each year gets easier.

But I love Christmas! Yeah, I did too. The songs. Family gathering. Giving presents. Stockings. The classic stories. Favorite Christmas movies. Manger scenes. Me loving something doesn't equal YHWH's approval though.

But isn't Christmas in the Bible? Actually, many elements of traditional Christmas celebrations get a mention in Scripture, only in a very negative, don't-do-this sort of way. For instance Jeremiah 10 expressly tells us not to learn the ways of those who cut down trees and then deck them with silver and gold. The word Christmas, like Easter, does not appear in Scripture.

What about the 'Christmas' story? The Luke 2 story - angels appearing to Mary and Joseph, the shepherds in the field, Mary giving birth to Yahusha in a sukkah with animals - is absolutely a precious part of Scripture. It's unfortunate that many elements of this have been totally misconstrued. The wise men didn't arrive for a couple of years after his birth. The shepherds didn't have their sheep grazing on winter's snow. The date was certainly not December 25. And no angel ever declared that the Messiah's name would be Jesus. And of course at the time of the Messiah's birth no one in Bethlehem had a tree up in their home or told their children stories of elves making toys on the North Pole.

Shouldn't we celebrate our Savior's birth though? Should we be grateful that Yahusha came to earth in the flesh to bring us correct understanding of the Word and ultimately to die for our sins? Of course! May we always be. That said, Scripture does not tell us we should and birthday celebrations aren't a Hebrew idea. The two or three birthdays Scripture mentions (Pharaoh, King Herod, possibly Job's son) all end in death. If you still find yourself wanting to celebrate his birth the appropriate time to do that would be when Yahusha was actually born, in the fall during Sukkot.

I know the Messiah really wasn't born in December but this tradition is important to me and I mean well. There is another story of a group of people that feared and loved YHWH who decided to throw a festival in his honor. Offerings were made. Time was spent making a beautiful decoration. They feasted on food and drink. They laughed and played games. How did YHWH respond to this? Was he appreciative? Did he say, "well it's the thought that counts"? He was ready to kill them. You can read about this incident in Exodus 32.

Can't God redeem pagan things? Reading through Scripture this doesn't seem to be his approach. He could have redeemed the golden calf (they did mean it as a celebration to YHWH after all - Exodus 32:5), but didn't and the people were punished. He could have used that temple of ba'al as a worship center for himself but instead had it turned into a public toilet (2 Kings 10:27). He could have re-purposed some of those asherah poles but always ordered them to be smashed. He could have told us to accept our culture but he said, "Come out of her and be clean."

What about the kids? Yes, making changes can be disappointing for children. Changing holidays is tough for all ages. But it's far better that children grow up learning truth and how to walk in YHWH's ways, than to be blinded by cultural lies in the name of fun. Not celebrating Christmas doesn't mean you have to be miserable though. Replacing pagan holidays with the seven festivals of YHWH can be tremendously joyful as you set apart his times. Plus, YHWH's feast days make up 19 days of the year, not to mention the weekly Shabbat. That's a lot more celebrating than the five or six days of cultural holidays.

Don't you miss celebrating it? My siblings both live out of state so I'm often nostalgic for days when my whole family is together, including at Christmas. There are a few Christmas songs that I really liked that I miss. Other than that, no. I don't find myself wishing my house was decked in red and green or anything like that.

Wait a minute, are you just trying to take Christ out of Christmas? Well, sort of. I think Christ should be removed from Christmas because, well, he doesn't have anything to do with it in the first place. I think it's sad and ironic one of the few causes Believers are willing to rally behind is this. Not the persecution of Believers in the Middle East, not the Ten Commandments being removed from public buildings, not the rights of students to be able to pray in schools, just that cups at Starbucks aren't plastered with the name of a holiday the Messiah didn't celebrate. I have yet to hear anyone who is upset about a "happy holidays" greeting complain that Starbucks doesn't go unleavened during Matzah Week or that no major retailer has a Shavuot section.

How do you feel when you see Christmas stuff? Okay, so no one has actually asked me about this but maybe it's something people wonder about? When I walk into an office with a tree up or visit a friend's fully decorated home or see manger scenes in the neighborhood my heart sighs. I think, there is so much more for you.

What's the best part of not keeping Christmas? My faith has grown so much by taking this tangible step to follow YHWH! It's nice to read through Scriptures like Jeremiah 10 and not make excuses for what I'm doing, and also to be able to relate to people like Ruth who left their culture to live YHWH's way.

Also, this sounds odd but seasonality has been something I've worked on lately. Things like eating the foods that are seasonally available, and adjusting sleep patterns with sunlight and so forth. And it always felt unnatural to me that during what is typically a cold and icy month we would travel so much, to stores and parties and so on. Having December as more of a low key time makes so much more sense to me. The lovely Spring and Fall weather of Passover and Sukkot is when I want to be out doing things. Does that make sense? It might not be something you can appreciate until you've been there.

What's weird about Christmas now? So many things, but mostly the Santa pictures I see on social media. Can we talk about how weird it is that suddenly handing your baby off to a random stranger is acceptable? Doesn't it seem unwise to teach your child it's okay to trust this man they don't know? Should college girls really be sitting on the lap of some guy in costume? The really bizarre thing is that my not-so-religious friends don't seem to care much about this but the ones on staff at a church or who went to seminary or Bible college? They are hunting Santa down! I don't get that, okay?!

How do family and friends feel about you not celebrating? Some have taken it better than others. But usually it's a range from confused to offended. And for that, I am sorry. The last thing I want is to hurt feelings. This change doesn't impact that I love the people in my life. I get why they enjoy Christmas, because I did for so long too. I just feel like YHWH has called us to better things.

How do you handle Christmas parties? On one hand, I definitely get wanting to avoid all connection to and appearance of celebrating Christmas. On the other, it does seem in John 10 that Yahusha was at the temple during Hanukkah festivities. Of course, he was not throwing the party or leading the songs or making the donuts. He was teaching truth. So I think a lot of this decision depends on what you would be doing at the party. Wearing an ugly sweater, giving a secret Santa gift, and just participating in whatever the Christmas party is doing is very different from the family reunion type of events where you can share with a pro-life cousin what is so horrific about a yule log. Obviously you need to pray and ask YHWH for direction on this, but chances are you will be less busy than normal.

How do you reconcile viewing Christmas as ungodly with good childhood memories of it? All I can say is that we did what we thought to be true at the time. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us that we should grow in the knowledge of Yahusha. Growth means changing. Just as a mature flower looks different than it did when it was a seedling, we can grow without resenting our past. My family celebrated what we believed to be was something that honored YHWH. Now that we know differently our lives should reflect that.

How about you? What kind of questions do you get asked? Is this something you're comfortable talking about?

2 comments:

  1. Another beautifully worded piece. Thank you. I'm going to send this to my parents and my in-laws. Once they read it l, it should be easier to sit and discuss the why's. Thank you again

    Shalom Shalom

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  2. Currently working on quitting Christmas. It's so hard. I really like your Q&A and it helps me think about how to go about this. Thank you

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