Is Christmas exclusively for Christians?

I love this nativity set that my mother brought me from Mexico.

I love this nativity set that my mother brought me from Mexico. St. Francis of Assisi created the first creche back when most people were illiterate. Remember what it was like before you could read? I think a creche illustrates the beauty of Christ’s birth very well without words.

A few friends have stated over the years that people who do not believe in Christ should not celebrate Christmas. I understand why they say that. But I know quite a few non-Christians, and I cannot imagine not sharing my Christmas joy with them. I like inclusion. While I being raised Roman Catholic, I had a fairly ecumenical upbringing at home. Once I left the house, I took a few interfaith opportunities to learn about our fellow humans. (Ecumenical is the adjective describing a mixture of Christian religions; interfaith is the adjective describing a mixture of Christian and non-Christian religions.) 

My sister-in-law made this for us.

My sister-in-law made this for us.

So what do I think about non-Christians celebrating Christmas? I do not mind sharing a holy day if it brings generosity, kindness, thoughtful and considerate gifting, wholesome family time, and goodwill.

But that only takes you so far. This kind of Christmas seems hollow to me. It means you participate in the gift exchange at school, that you bring special treats to work, and that you tour neighborhoods with pretty lights. It may mean that Santa brings gifts to the house. These are socially acceptable and culturally enabled activities. They are not informed by faith.

I remember that someone asked Meskawi performers about Christmas, and one of the men answered that they just “go with the flow.” That saddens me. The fullness of the holy day will be missed on people who just go with the flow. Having a considered, intentional life is something for which I’ve striven. How you can celebrate something without having a purpose other than “everyone else is doing it” is beyond my understanding. These are people who are missing out on the beauty of the Mass, of the deep history and wonderful symbolism that I learned as a child and teach as an adult. The waiting during Advent, the preparation of our homes and hearts — I can’t imagine Christmas without them.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16

If you would like to know more about the Christian faith, many non-threatening and non-judgmental resources online and in person abound. I think we Christians are on to something, and I hope that everyone will learn to appreciate our faith, and maybe even join us.

P.S. I am upset by all people, regardless of faith, who practice recreational retail spending and use Christmas (or any day) as an excuse to exercise their “retail therapy.”

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3 Responses to Is Christmas exclusively for Christians?

  1. Lisa B. says:

    I celebrate Christmas as an agnostic because it is what my family celebrates. I enjoythe light that comes from being with those we love during this dark and cold time of year. My family would not join me in a solstice celebration, so i must join them in their Christmas celebration.

    • julia says:

      I think your situation is a great example where interfaith events really come into play. I find that lack of knowledge often causes fear and non-participation, which is silly because participation would break down that fear. I am guessing that your thoughts on people joining you in a solstice celebration would be the same then — it’s OK, but could be that much more if they understood?

  2. Lisa B. says:

    I would say that I have a great understanding of Christmas from the Christian perspective. I was raised Christian, went to a Lutheran middle school, graduated from hs early so that I could go to missionary school, when to a Christian college, and read my Bible every day for years. My decision to no longer be a Christian was very thought out. And I don’t think that there is much to understand about a solstice celebration. We get together because it’s the shortest day of the year, and darkness stinks. 🙂 in fact, many Christmas traditions, such as lights on the tree, have a root in solstice celebrations. But, I think the real reason that Christian family members are set on onl celebrating Christmas is fear. Fear that if they do something unChristian, that they will be tempted to no longer be Christian, and then they’ll burn I’m hell. And they cannot support my religious choices because that would be supporting my eternal damnation. I get w why they do it, but is fear a good basis for religious foundations?

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