Christmas might seem like a commercialised, all-consuming holiday celebrated by pretty much everyone, in some way, shape, or form.
In fact, a Pew Research poll found a grand total of 90 per cent of all Americans – regardless of their religious beliefs – celebrate Christmas.
Many of us have come to see the holiday as representative of goodwill to all men – and a nice chance to see family, open presents and gorge on food – rather than a reflection of faith (or lack of).
However, there are some Christians who find the mass celebration of Christmas Day ‘demeaning’ of their devotion.
Out of an approximate 2 billion Christians worldwide, estimates suggest 27 million Christians don’t celebrate Christmas.
There’s even a Facebook group for ‘Christians Who Don’t Celebrate Christmas’, and in a time when the spirit of yuletide seems to traverse the boundaries of faith, why exactly is this commercialised holiday offensive to sects of Christianity?
Among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and other non-denominational groups, The United Church of God does not focus on celebrating Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ.
David Fenney of The United Church of God told UNILAD:
While we recognise Jesus Christ came into the world in the manner described in the gospels, which do not give a precise calendar date for his birth, we feel celebrating his birth is unnecessary so we just get on with our lives that time of year.
There are certainly aspects of the traditions associated with Christmas which we feel are inappropriate, even demeaning of Jesus Christ himself, including the modern commercialisation of the season.
Elaborating on the teachings of his church, David continued:
Greed, covetousness and other inappropriate behaviours tend to dominate the public perception of the Christmas season.
In addition, while there are older traditions such as decorated trees, baubles, exchange of gifts, turkey dinners, that are also not mentioned in the gospels, our modern age has added things such as all-pervasive Christmas songs that are played in shops and other public places for many weeks ahead of 25th December with Christmas trees and decorations appearing as early as 1st September!
These sorts of traditional elements tend to mask or even completely eliminate the purpose stated in the gospels for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God – which is the salvation of humanity.
He spoke of his Preston congregation, sharing his personal beliefs:
What do we do instead? We recognise that the festivals and holy days described in the Bible itself centre around and teach us about God’s plan for all mankind and the centrality of Jesus Christ’s role in every step toward its completion.
As we observe those festivals and holy days – at points in the calendar different from Christmas – we are reminded of the role and work of the Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ and how he accomplishes God’s plan for humanity.
Kevin Williams, of Grace Fellowship Manchester, echoed these sentiments, saying:
For we Christians, Christmas is much more than a time of good cheer.
Others can do all that but for us, Christmas is so much more.
The world outside of Christ can have fun at Christmas, we do too, and we wish them well, but for us Christmas it is so much more.
Sharing his beliefs, Kevin, a local pastor, continued:
Knowing Christ is everything! To go through this world, with the confidence that whatever this life throws at us, we can be sure that, because of what Christ has done for us in paying the penalty for our sins, we are right with God, all our sins have been forgiven, once and forever.
So naturally this Christmas, we want others to come and believe this good news and know Jesus for themselves, so they too can become right with God.
No matter how you chose to celebrate – or ignore – the coming of Christmas, one thing is for sure.
It’s a time of goodwill and respect to our fellow human.