Well, Orthodox Christmas has just come and past, well so at least by the time you read this. I know, it's been about a week into the New Year, and normally, I should be posting content related to the New Year.
Perhaps I should have written this back in December 2016 or write it in December 2017.
Now before I begin writing about the subject at hand, just know that this is NOT an attack on any particular religion, or any religious group that does not celebrate Christmas. The sole purpose of this piece is to inform. That is it.
We often point the finger at Muslims, Jews, Atheists and non-Christians when confronted with the idea of people who don't celebrate Christmas. Truth to be told, MANY Atheists and non-Christians celebrate Christmas, they take part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it.
As a person who enjoys learning about other religions, I've come to learn that there are actually a lot of Christians who don't celebrate Christmas. It is for a reason that mainstream Christians may actually be confused by — it goes against their faith.
Celebrating Christmas goes against a Christian denomination?
I'm not going to go into all of the Bible verses condemning festivities that are identical to our common Christmas traditions today, but I will list one example. The entire book of Jeremiah 10 condemns people cutting down trees and decorating them with ornaments. A lot of Christian opponents of Christmas tie that book's condemnation with our modern-day Christmas trees.
Then, there's the entire controversy about Christmas and the festivities associated with it, being recycled Pagan holidays and traditions during the winter. That, and the entire debate of whether Jesus was actually born on December 25 of our Gregorian calendar or not. I'm not going to get into all that here. Anyone can do the research for themselves.
Basically, all I intend to do here is list a number of Christian sections and denominations that don't celebrate Christmas, as well as listing their brief history. Be mindful that this list doesn't cite all of them.
What I found interesting is that these Christian groups, save for the last group, have three things in common:
1. They're VERY conservative sections, I mean even MORE conservative than what we come to accept as being conservative.
2. They don't celebrate other holidays, some don't even celebrate birthdays, seeing holiday and birthday celebrations as forms of Pagan and self-worship.
3. They're a minority and don't form a majority in any single country.
1. Jehovah's Witnesses
If you're familiar with 'em, well, ya had to see that coming on the list. For me, I was totally never familiar with the Jehovah's Witnesses movement. The only thing I'd ever knew about 'em is their door-to-door ministry. That's it. This particular section of Christianity is an End Time sect. and was found in New England, by the Watch Tower Society in New York, who also happens to be the governing body of the faith. Its followers worship in "Kingdom Halls." Charles Taze Russell, the movement's main founder was a minister from Pennsylvania.
Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas. Neither do they celebrate Thanksgiving, birthdays, Valentines Day, etc. They also refrain from national holidays. From what I've read, the only holiday that the Jehovah's Witnesses do celebrate, or anything remotely close to a "holiday" to our understanding, is Jesus' death, which they celebrate on Nisan 14 of the Hebrew calendar. They call it the "Lord's Last Supper," which in a sense, is identical to the Jewish feast of Passover. (Jesus actually celebrated Passover and the "Last Supper" was describing a Passover dinner Jesus was having.) If you actually research the history of the movement, though, they did at one point, celebrate Christmas but stopped doing it.
2. Seventh-day Adventists
Similarly to the Jehovah's Witness movement, Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate Christmas, or any holidays and place the main focus on End Time prophecy. However, the stark difference is their observation of the Sabbath, on Saturday as opposed to the mainstream Christian practice of observing Sunday as a holy day. Though the Seventh-day Adventist has several founders, among the main three regarded as Joseph Bates and the White couple (Ellen G. White and her husband James White). It is a considered a sub-branch of the Protestant section of Christianity. The faith is governed from Maryland by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
3. United Church of God, an International Association
This is a unique and interesting one. The United Church of God, an International Association was founded in 1995 in Indianapolis. It is to note that its common name is just United Church of God, or known by the acronym UCG. The comma followed by an International Association was added to the official name, to distinguish it from other groups who may use identical or similar names. The UCG is actually one of many break-away groups from a larger Christian group known as Grace Communion International, at that time, known as the Worldwide Church of God. A 12-man board known as the Council of Elders governs the UCG.
The reason for breaking away from the WCG was that members of the UCG wanted to adopt a strict conservative orthodox form of Christianity, similar to the one that the Puritans practiced. As one could expect, ditching Christmas is one of those practices. In fact, the UCG even has videos on why Christians shouldn't celebrate Christmas. Although, they actually seem to be lenient on birthdays. In fact, in this interesting sermon, one of their elders, Larry Walker explains that the Bible neither prohibits nor promotes birthdays and that it is truly up to the individual.
Here's another interesting fact: the UCG's original parent organization actually DEFENDS Christmas!
4. Westboro Baptist Church
I'm sure by now, many people should be familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church. This Baptist section with only 40 members in Topeka, Kansas, at least as we know it, was found in 1955. Though the church itself, was actually a church plant of the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka under the same name as today. Fred Phelps, the church's main founder, was actually an associate pastor at the original East Side Baptist Church. He was later hired to be the main pastor of Westboro Baptist Church.
Phelps eventually broke away from the East Side Baptist Church to begin his own group. While widely known for their hate speech and their picketing activity, particularly towards the LGBTQ+ community, they've also done this toward other Christians, soldiers and veterans, Muslims, Jews, politicians and well, America herself. Christmas should also be on that list. In fact, another thing that the WBC is known for is creating parodies of music to convey their beliefs. Christmas music is no exception, as the WBC condemns Christmas by making parodies of Christmas music doing so.
5. Non-Denominational groups
I'm not even gonna show a picture for this one, as literally...this group can come in MANY, MANY forms. Their churches can look like anything, from a traditional church to a simple building that they use to meet in. Sometimes they don't even meet in churches or designated congregational structures.
This group is actually mixed on the entire Christmas issue and a diverse bunch. It is mixed with people who just like all the others mentioned, have dropped Christmas, to those who may take a few liberties by hosting dinners and giving presents, or those who just go full-out and celebrate like everyone else.
Many even celebrate other holidays such as birthdays.
For example, there's a Facebook page named "Christians Who Don't Celebrate Christmas". They're all socially conservative Christians who don't adhere to any organizations or faiths. In fact, from all the comments and postings I've read, they're actually against all the aforementioned groups that you've seen.
I've had very conservative friends in the past who preach about the pagan origins of Christmas and are adamantly against Christmas trees and all that. Yet, they still see family while not agreeing with their relatives' decisions to erect Christmas trees and all that.
Becky Fischer, a conservative Pentecostal who became prominent for the 2006 film "Jesus Camp", celebrates Christmas, and even and encourages Christians to celebrate Hanukkah.
So according to numerous online sources, the Jehovah's Witnesses have about 8 million followers around the world, the Seventh Day Adventists have about 19 million followers around the world, and while I haven't been able to find any status for the United Church of God, they do have 409 congregations worldwide. So that's approximately 27 million Christians who don't celebrate Christmas, not counting the non-denominationals. This is out of about 2 billion Christians worldwide.
While 27 million (remember minus the UCG and non-denominationals) out of 2 billion Christians doesn't seem like a lot, especially in terms of percentage (about 1.4%), it's still a noticeable amount.