Keeping Christmas traditions if you don't keep Christmas?

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Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a question exclusively for those who do not keep Christmas. Please refrain from commenting if you are not of this conviction.

If you don't celebrate Christmas, is it justifiable to partake in Christmas traditions? The main tradition I'd like to focus on is gift-giving. But I guess the question extends to the traditional Christmas dinner too. But focus on gift-giving if you can.

Yes you've at least taken Christ out of it, but why take part in it at all? Surely it's the sin of others that is prompting you to take part in the tradition at all? In an ideal Christian society, surely there would be no mention of a December gift-giving? The whole tradition has no Scriptural roots, only pagan and eventually Catholic.

What do you think?

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If there is a better forum to put this in please move it.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
How would it be perceived by family members etc? Would they be able to make the fine disctinction that you are giving gifts around December 25th but not celebrating Christmas? Somehow I doubt it. The question then becomes, does this give the appearance of evil or compromise the consistency of your testimony against idolatrous holy days?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I don't give gifts but do gather with the relatives for a dinner; and there is no confusion where I stand on the subject of pretended holy days.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes but the giving of gifts at this time is clearly taken from the sinful celebration of Christmas. Surely it's a festival we should completely disassociate ourselves from.

I'll give a hypothetical example. You move to a foreign country where there is a foreign religion, where their religious practice is to throw a banquet feast for your 12 year old child on a certain day. What do you a Christian do? All of your 12 year old son's friends are eagerly anticipating this day and there is a lot of external pressure on you to comply. Do you go along but merely say yes but it's not because of their god, it's not for the same reason as them. Or do you have nothing to do with it?
I'm thinking of Lot in Soddom, how being around those people affected who he was and his behaviour. If we lived in a perfectly Christian society, these traditions would not exist. We keep these traditions which have been passed down from a very sinful pagan/roman catholic tradition.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
The above was a response to Joshua.
Thanks for your responses, very interesting.
Chris, I think that is where I am currently at too.
What is your own practice Rev King?

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Also, the practice in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is to give gifts at the New Year.
I don't agree with this practice for the reasons I have stated above, they are clearly just throwing a Christmas tradition onto an event they would not at all normally give gifts at.
Any thoughts? Or have you come across this practice?
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the thoughts Joshua! I'm not absolutely decided at all myself I'm just looking into it with my girlfriend.
J.Dean, perhaps you missed the first line in my thread-opening post? :)
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
We don't celebrate, gift-give, or have an out-of-ordinary feast. But we don't make a big deal about it either. Sometimes folks might notice the lack of a tree in the living room, but it rarely comes up.

On the OTHER hand, we do have hymn sings at our house. In that season I find great pleasure gathering with other believers to sing hymns and carols. It's a wonderful form of fellowship.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks Raymond :)
Yes well everyone is on holiday at that time of the year so we usually take full advantage and have several house fellowships.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Also, the practice in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is to give gifts at the New Year. I don't agree with this practice for the reasons I have stated above, they are clearly just throwing a Christmas tradition onto an event they would not at all normally give gifts at. Any thoughts? Or have you come across this practice?

I was brought up in the FP church and we gave gifts, had a meal, put up non-Crimbo decorations, sent N'Year cards, etc on January 1st.

I never thought of New Years celebrations as an aping of Christmas - they were more prominent in Scotland before Christmas came in anyway. If Christmas was generally abandoned by Christians and others there would be nothing more appropriate than making New Year into a big celebration without the Second Commandment complications of Christmas.

If I had a family of my own I would probably follow that practice, although I'd have to discuss it with the wife. I still observe New Year in that special way when I'm with relatives and friends of a like mind i.e. usually FPs or ex-FPs.

Christmas came into Scotland in a big way later on than England, and New Year's Day was once more important.

You have to decide for yourself, in the light of God's Word, what battles you are going to fight.

If you believe you should eschew everything to do with Christmas including the meal, gifts and cards then do that and whether they're worth fighting and what positive/negative effect they will have on your relations with loved ones and friends and on your personal evangelism.

You have to be as shrewd as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.

Many of my relatives keep Christmas (or Crimbo, as I sometimes call it, the Liverpudlian for Christmas) and I go along with the meal, the cards, the gifts and sometimes carol singing in the house.

Personally I don't see any justification for Christmas from Scripture.

I don't see anything wrong in focussing on my Lord's birth, although we should be able to do that at any time of year.
 
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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks for the thoughts Joshua! I'm not absolutely decided at all myself I'm just looking into it with my girlfriend.
J.Dean, perhaps you missed the first line in my thread-opening post? :)
No, I read it alright... it's just that (with all due respect) the stance reminds me of Jehovah's Witnesses and their stance on Christmas.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Only because Presbyterianism has degenerated so far that it has forgotten that opposition to pretended holy days of the so called Christian calendar was its position well to the end of the 19th century. Now, how about we honor the request of the OP? If you have a question about the position start you own thread.
Thanks for the thoughts Joshua! I'm not absolutely decided at all myself I'm just looking into it with my girlfriend.
J.Dean, perhaps you missed the first line in my thread-opening post? :)
No, I read it alright... it's just that (with all due respect) the stance reminds me of Jehovah's Witnesses and their stance on Christmas.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
What is your own practice Rev King?

Without desiring to enter into debate with my dear brothers, Josh and Chris, whose integrity I do not doubt, I can answer this question about my own practice.

I do not observe "Christmas" in any way nor engage in any activity which any one might associate with "Christmas". No decorations, no gifts, no family dinners. My reason is that I want to be entirely separated from it so that no seeming inconsitencies can be pointed to in my practice when I bear testimony against it.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the thoughts Joshua! I'm not absolutely decided at all myself I'm just looking into it with my girlfriend.
J.Dean, perhaps you missed the first line in my thread-opening post? :)
No, I read it alright... it's just that (with all due respect) the stance reminds me of Jehovah's Witnesses and their stance on Christmas.

I respectfully recommend that you read up on what that very man who you quote in your signature has to say on the subject! You will be surprised at how different we are to those of whom we claim our heritage!

---------- Post added at 07:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:19 PM ----------

What is your own practice Rev King?

Without desiring to enter into debate with my dear brothers, Josh and Chris, whose integrity I do not doubt, I can answer this question about my own practice.

I do not observe "Christmas" in any way nor engage in any activity which any one might associate with "Christmas". No decorations, no gifts, no family dinners. My reason is that I want to be entirely separated from it so that no seeming inconsitencies can be pointed to in my practice when I bear testimony against it.

Thanks for your input Rev King.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What is your own practice Rev King?

Without desiring to enter into debate with my dear brothers, Josh and Chris, whose integrity I do not doubt, I can answer this question about my own practice.

I do not observe "Christmas" in any way nor engage in any activity which any one might associate with "Christmas". No decorations, no gifts, no family dinners. My reason is that I want to be entirely separated from it so that no seeming inconsitencies can be pointed to in my practice when I bear testimony against it.

Rev. King,

If I adopted the same perspective, do you think it would be inconsistent of me to give my little siblings, say, New Year's gifts so that they know my purpose in not giving Christmas gifts is to disassociate from Christmas, and not from giving them gifts in general as an expression of my affection for them?

Also, what do you say about things that have more to do with the whole winter time rather than December 25th particularly, such as drinking egg nog, to use an extremely innocuous example? Many people associate things like drinking egg nog with Christmas time, but it is done all winter long and does not seem to relate directly to Christmas. Also, I would drink egg nog at other times of the year if it were available, but it isn't. Admittedly I'm using a very trivial example, but it might be useful for illustration. Anyway, what do you think?
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
When I needed to make a decision on this issue a few years back, I decided that I wouldn't participate in activities that were obviously associated with Christmas in the eyes of those who would invite me.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Austin,

I can say that your example has never been difficult for me since I find egg nog disgusting no matter what time of year it is ;) However, I understand your point. My perspective is much like Tim's above. I try to avoid anything that others would associate with "Christmas" at Christmas time. I would certainly not want to judge the motives of any of my dear brethren that would try to show affection to family by giving gifts at New Year's Day. However, I wonder why it is that anyone feels pressure to do so. Is it not ultimately because it is Christmas season and there is an expectation that if we are loving or sociable that we will? I don't buy that premise. Since the whole season is distasteful to me, I simply choose to pass it by without even noticing its existence (so far as I can, expect maybe to interact on a thread like this!). To me it seems like an analgous situation would be telling someone you wouldn't buy them a birthday present because you don't believe in birthdays but giving them a non-birthday present exactly a week after their birthday every year! (And for the record I am *not* claiming to be against birthdays, just using this as an illustration). If we are going to take a principled stand against Christmas there is no need to come up with a Christmas substitute. There are plenty of opportunities all year long to give gifts and show kindness that are no associated with anything dubious. Again, this is just my :2cents: worth. Blessings to you, brother.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Austin,

I can say that your example has never been difficult for me since I find egg nog disgusting no matter what time of year it is ;) However, I understand your point. My perspective is much like Tim's above. I try to avoid anything that others would associate with "Christmas" at Christmas time. I would certainly not want to judge the motives of any of my dear brethren that would try to show affection to family by giving gifts at New Year's Day. However, I wonder why it is that anyone feels pressure to do so. Is it not ultimately because it is Christmas season and there is an expectation that if we are loving or sociable that we will? I don't buy that premise. Since the whole season is distasteful to me, I simply choose to pass it by without even noticing its existence (so far as I can, expect maybe to interact on a thread like this!). To me it seems like an analgous situation would be telling someone you wouldn't buy them a birthday present because you don't believe in birthdays but giving them a non-birthday present exactly a week after their birthday every year! (And for the record I am *not* claiming to be against birthdays, just using this as an illustration). If we are going to take a principled stand against Christmas there is no need to come up with a Christmas substitute. There are plenty of opportunities all year long to give gifts and show kindness that are no associated with anything dubious. Again, this is just my :2cents: worth. Blessings to you, brother.

Thank you. Good food for thought. I might just make more of an effort to be a thoughtful gift-giver throughout the year as occasion arises, instead of using the winter season as an opportunity to join the chorus of Christmas materialism. I just want to avoid communicating the wrong message to my loved ones. I'm not a "grinch" or spoil-sport; just pursuing charitable consistency.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
"Charitable consistency" is an extremely difficult balance to find and maintain. I'm not claiming to do it perfectly. But it certainly is the goal to continue to strive towards! True love should never require bending principle even a little. And firm principles in no way necessitate unkindness or harshness. And I still highly esteem some of my brethren here who may not necessarily apply the same principles in exactly the same way I do. Thanks for the interaction.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
"Charitable consistency" is an extremely difficult balance to find and maintain. I'm not claiming to do it perfectly. But it certainly is the goal to continue to strive towards! True love should never require bending principle even a little. And firm principles in no way necessitate unkindness or harshness. And I still highly esteem some of my brethren here who may not necessarily apply the same principles in exactly the same way I do. Thanks for the interaction.

Well said, and likewise, sir.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't give gifts, send cards or return the greeting of "Merry Christmas" in a way that I would be considered endorsing the idea. When people say it, I usually respond, "enjoy your time off", at work or abroad. Some guys like to needle me with the Merry Christmas stuff (who know where I stand) and I smile and give them a laughing "bah humbug". I don't do company parties or the like. Those who insist on hanging door hangers, or signs on my door will find them turned around backwards. If a family member wants to share a meal, they know where I stand. However I try to refrain from the activities in a gracious manner. If someone gets obnoxious with me about my beliefs, I change the subject or leave the room.
When children ask me about Christmas, Santa Claus, or the like, I refer them to their parents to avoid brewing strife.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
There are a lot of variables: The adamancy of your views, your standing in the community, which traditions your community associate with Christmas, how understanding your community is of your views. (Ie if everyone around you understands your viewpoint, then it is probably less necessary to distance yourself from every possible appearance of Christmas.)
So I can understand Rev King having no decorations. But I can also understand someone who always decorates their house throughout the year putting up winter-themed decorations.

I'm not into occasion-related gift-giving anyway. So I think it's probably good to just give people gifts throughout the year when there is a need or you spot something someone will like. But there are circumstances in which it would be possible to give someone a gift on the 25th December without them ascribing any festive associations to it.

The holiday period often involves time off of work and a lot of places closed. (Though this latter is not so true nowadays.) So it makes sense that family would gather and perhaps have an elaborate meal involving seasonal produce. You may choose to avoid this though if the way your family engage in this meal involves, you know, too much Christmas. But in and of itself it does not have to be related to Christmas.
Although "being related to Christmas" isn't really the issue: mince pies are related to Christmas, but I think it would be fine for anyone to eat a lot of them at that time of year. I can't really imagine someone thinking, "You don't celebrate Christmas but I saw you eating a mince pie last night?!"

Like I said, it really all depends on your individual context as to what is appropriate behaviour for you.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Speaking of company parties, years ago about 1983, the first real job I had right out of college was for a company that sold tape and recording supplies and other such, to largely a church clientele. A fellow also worked there (who got me the interview actually or at least told me to call) who was Reformed (he helped instill my practice since that time as far as xmas also). When the company had their company party and someone would pass around the M&Ms, he would make a big to-do picking around the red and green ones. Most thought it humorous as his feelings were well known; but he got some dagger eyes as well. This was long before the days M&Ms got the idea to sell packages of just the red and green ones in December.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
...the practice in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is to give gifts at the New Year.
I don't agree with this practice for the reasons I have stated above, they are clearly just throwing a Christmas tradition onto an event they would not at all normally give gifts at.
Any thoughts? Or have you come across this practice?

This is not the practice of FPs in Texas...perhaps the tradition is unique to Scottish FPs?

We do sometimes have dinner with friends or family on the 25th of December, as we would on any other day where everyone happened to be off work and available for fellowship. But there would be nothing about the meal to differentiate it from a meal at any other time of year.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
...the practice in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is to give gifts at the New Year.
I don't agree with this practice for the reasons I have stated above, they are clearly just throwing a Christmas tradition onto an event they would not at all normally give gifts at.
Any thoughts? Or have you come across this practice?

This is not the practice of FPs in Texas...perhaps the tradition is unique to Scottish FPs?

We do sometimes have dinner with friends or family on the 25th of December, as we would on any other day where everyone happened to be off work and available for fellowship. But there would be nothing about the meal to differentiate it from a meal at any other time of year.

Thanks Sharon. Yeh it must be then.
 

Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't give gifts but do gather with the relatives for a dinner; and there is no confusion where I stand on the subject of pretended holy days.
Ditto that... except the dinner. Good for you Chris for ensuring there is no confusion on where you stand!
I do not wish to transfer any of the ties of christmas to my children and subsequently to future generations. I cannot be held accountable for refusal of engaging in the festivities at any level. It won't be by my hands.

---------- Post added at 05:33 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:29 PM ----------

...the practice in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is to give gifts at the New Year.
I don't agree with this practice for the reasons I have stated above, they are clearly just throwing a Christmas tradition onto an event they would not at all normally give gifts at.
Any thoughts? Or have you come across this practice?

This is not the practice of FPs in Texas...perhaps the tradition is unique to Scottish FPs?

We do sometimes have dinner with friends or family on the 25th of December, as we would on any other day where everyone happened to be off work and available for fellowship. But there would be nothing about the meal to differentiate it from a meal at any other time of year.

Thanks Sharon. Yeh it must be then.

David, in engaging in an email debate with some folk in the UK, over the issue, in the past, there were so many assumptions made of me in regards to New Years. I had no Idea where this came from, and it muddled the debate much. Is there some "big to do" over New Years in Scotland?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
David, in engaging in an email debate with some folk in the UK, over the issue, in the past, there were so many assumptions made of me in regards to New Years. I had no Idea where this came from, and it muddled the debate much. Is there some "big to do" over New Years in Scotland?

There's not a big to do, because in Scotland Christmas has sadly eclipsed New Year.

In FP Churches, and some Free Churches and others, there is a New Year's Day service.

I don't see this as aping Christmas because:

(a) New Year was celebrated in Scotland long before Christmas got off the ground.

(b) It is appropriate to remember New Year.

(c) There are not the Second Commandment complications of Christmas.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
David, in engaging in an email debate with some folk in the UK, over the issue, in the past, there were so many assumptions made of me in regards to New Years. I had no Idea where this came from, and it muddled the debate much. Is there some "big to do" over New Years in Scotland?

There's not a big to do, because in Scotland Christmas has sadly eclipsed New Year.

In FP Churches, and some Free Churches and others, there is a New Year's Day service.

I don't see this as aping Christmas because:

(a) New Year was celebrated in Scotland long before Christmas got off the ground.

(b) It is appropriate to remember New Year.

(c) There are not the Second Commandment complications of Christmas.


That is all true Richard. And I agree that bringing in the New Year as a family in thankfulness to God for the year past and with new petitions to God for the year to come is fine.

But I don't agree with taking Christmas traditions and using New Year as an excuse to keep them. Gift giving is a Christmas tradition. It is the sinful celebration of Christmas that promts FPs to gift-give at New Year.
What if I want to have a New Year tree, decorated exactly as a Christmas tree? By that reasoning an FP minister couldn't say anything to me because just like gift giving I have disassociated it with Christmas. I could probably come up with some other similar Christmas traditions. I think we need to break all ties with Christmas.

p.s I don't mean to single out FPs, I respect them in a lot of ways
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But I don't agree with taking Christmas traditions and using New Year as an excuse to keep them. Gift giving is a Christmas tradition. It is the sinful celebration of Christmas that promts FPs to gift-give at New Year.

I'm sure if you did a cultural historical study of New Year in Scotland you would find that gifts were (sometimes) given at New Year long before Christmas became a "big thing".

Christmas only became a big thing in England when Prince Albert brought the traditions over from Germany when he married Victoria, and it became big in Scotland much later than England.

Anyway, people are giving gifts at New Year in order to celebrate New Year, which should be celebrated, not in order to ape Christmas. It was never the "sinful" celebration of Christmas that prompted people to give gifts at New Year, but the sinless celebration of New Year. Christmas is never in people's minds in celebrating New Year.

I think in your zeal against Christmas you may be adding to Scripture by saying it is sinful to exchange gifts on New Year's Day, plus if your ideas were followed it would spoil New Year for many little kiddies, who wouldn't get presents on New Year, which isn't very nice for the sake of a wrongheaded principle.

What if I want to have a New Year tree, decorated exactly as a Christmas tree?

I've never come accross such a concept as a New Year tree.

You're making an arbitrary law that New Year can't be celebrated by eating a nice meal of pork and apple sauce and by exchanging gifts, even putting up non-Crimbo decorations and exchanging New Year cards.

I don't think your unbiblical additions can be defended from Scripture. You're putting an extra-biblical burden on little children everywhere, who have parents who don't keep Crimbo.

This isn't just a Free Presbyterian tradition. As you know, the FPs came out of the Free Church in 1893, and the Free Church continued post-1900 when a large section joined with the United Presbyterians to form the United Free Church. At what point in the history of the Free Church did Crimbo start to be widely celebrated in the home, if not in gathered worship?
 
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