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Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas

Updated on December 3, 2012

Ever since I was a child, I have found myself having to explain why I don’t celebrate Christmas. This is surprising to me, since I am Jewish. This explanation does not seem to satisfy many, who suggest that not celebrating it is un-American, or even scrooge-like.

Christmas is omnipresent. From the day after Thanksgiving (if not before) right through the one-day holiday a full month later, Christmas music, once-a-year sales, and light-filled decorations permeate our culture. For many, this holiday has lost religious meaning and represents a purely secular day to spend with family, enjoying good food and company. Many who are not Christian celebrate it. To those celebrating it, this holiday brings feelings of warmth, love, and giving.

Why, then, if the holiday has lost its religious significance to many, should non-Christians hesitate to celebrate it? Let me note here that I am not bemoaning non-Christians who celebrate Christmas. I respect this choice. I am simply explaining why celebrating Christmas should not be considered the natural default for all.

Christmas is a Christian holiday

While many think of Christmas as an “American” holiday, the fact is that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. For many individuals (Christian or otherwise) who celebrate it, the holiday has only secular meaning. And, since our population is predominantly Christian, most Americans celebrate Christmas. But, these two facts do not magically transform it into an “American” holiday. It is, foundationally, a Christian holiday.

Preserving non-Christian religious practices has value

Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian, with less than 5% identifying as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or other world religions, and the remaining 15% identifying as non-affiliated (many of these have Christian roots). We are very lucky to live in a society where individuals can choose what religions to practice. However, raising children of other religions sometimes means not doing what everyone else is doing.

Judaism has survived the ages because Jews have fought – and died – to preserve their ability to practice their own religion, rather than adopt the religious practices of the dominant culture. For some, celebrating Christmas represents a contraction to that historical struggle.

So, Why Don’t I Celebrate Christmas?

I don’t celebrate Christmas because it is not part of my religion or tradition. As we become more multi-cultural, more people of mixed backgrounds may choose to celebrate Christmas to embrace differences within their own families. I believe that sharing holidays is a fantastic way to help bridge understanding between people. At the same time, we need to understand that Christmas is not a tradition for all Americans, and we need to respect people’s personal, religious, and cultural reasons for not celebrating it.

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      xeric 5 years ago

      You do realize that Christmas doesn't really have anything to do with Christianity, right? But was originally a pagan tradition around midwinter to celebrate the light winning over the dark (IE, Yule). The church just let people keep it to win them over during christianization, then adapted it in later. It was even banned for a bit in the 17th century by puritans.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Laura, you hit it right on! Christmas has become so commercialised, with thousands of people flying around getting all the presents on time, that they have lost sight of the true significance of the Holy Day. I do say Holy Day, not holiday, because that is what it is. The celebration of the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      It's very sad that Christmas has become just a holiday for most people, with tons of food, gallons of alcohol, truckloads of expensive presents.

      I respect you for not joining in that yearly festival. It means nothing to you, or to me either. To me it is a Holy Day, for prayer first, then togetherness and love with family and friends. Naturally there has to be food and drink, for that is how all celebrations bring people together. You've written a great hub.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Good info and an interesting read. I lived in Japan for several years where, despite their population being less than 1% Christian, their malls, businesses, and many homes were decked out in Christmas decorations. It always made me laugh because they didn't really know what Christmas was, it was just a fun holiday to celebrate. It is always important to understand why we do things. Great hub.

    • LauraGT profile image
      Author

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      DeborahNeyens, thanks! That's my hope as well. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah, Laura. I'm sorry you've had to spend your life explaining why you don't celebrate Christmas. It seems many people don't take the time to understand, appreciate, or respect our different beliefs and traditions. Maybe in some small way this hub will help bring greater understanding.

    • LauraGT profile image
      Author

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Thanks for reading and your responses. When I started to write this and googled the topic I was surprised to find out how many Christians also have stopped celebrating Christmas because it has become so disconnected from its original meaning. Interesting! Your responses make clear that many still associate the holiday with its original meaning.

      Happy holidays, all! :)

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      What Larry wrote is very good. There are people who do give God thanks for the birth of Jesus. Not all of us have just given in the the commercialization of Christmas. The people who do thank God for the birth of Jesus are remembering the true meaning of Christmas.

      Thanks Larry, your comment is a good one and I agree with it.

    • profile image

      JThomp42 5 years ago

      Christmas has become so commercialized, I am afraid so many do not celebrate Christmas for the right meaning. The birth of Jesus Christ. Great hub Laura.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 5 years ago

      I understand, respect and expect that you would not celebrate Christmas. As you stated it is a Christian observance where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as the savior, who died for our sins, so that we may have everlasting life. The Jews are the chosen people of God. I do not know how this will all work out in the end, but I will leave that issue up to God. To my Christian friends, I wish you a happy and joyful Christmas and hope you can use this time to renew and restore your faith if you have doubts. If you are Jewish, I wish you a happy Hanukkah, which I know is not the "Jewish Christmas," but is a special time for the Jewish people. I need to study more about it. I will never stop being a Christian, but I like to understand other faiths and beliefs.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      The sad thing about Christmas is that it no longer celebrates or thanks God for the birth of Jesus. No, now the only thing Christmas is about stores making money. Or who can give more stuff to their kids. Well, more expensive stuff

      Voted up.

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