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Why we don't celebrate Christmas

It probably seems odd that we believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Son of God and yet we don't celebrate Christmas. Below are some of the reasons why we choose not to observe Christmas in our home.

1. Yeshua (Jesus) was not born on December 25th. While the information on this topic is scant, no primary evidence or early sources point to December 25th. To the contrary, a number of points from the Gospels themselves make a December date extremely unlikely. Winters in Israel are very cold, so much so that shepherds would have had their flocks in shelters at night. Yet the Gospels record the shepherds living in the fields at night tending their flocks (Luke 2:8). Likewise the census (Luke 2:1-7) would have likely occurred after harvest time (September-October) when "revenue" was the highest and the weather and road conditions were still good. December would have been a highly unpopular time for a census. Finally, the priestly courses of Zecharias indicate Yeshua was likely born in either the spring or fall, not winter. John's Gospel possibly narrows the timeframe more when he wrote, "And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us" (John 1:14, YLT). This may be a hint that he was possibly born during the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs in the fall.

Conjecture aside, we cannot say with absolute certainty when he was born, but we can safely say no substantial evidence points toward December, let alone December 25th. The birth of the Son of God is a significant prophetic event (e.g. Isa 7:14, 9:6f; Micah 5:1ff; Gen 3:15; etc), yet the authors of the inspired Scriptures thought it best not only to gloss over "when" he was born, but likewise to make no indication that his birth was to be remembered and celebrated as an annual event. This seems to be in contrast to Pentecost, Passover/The Lord's Supper, and so forth. Which leads us to...

2. The Bible contains a number of celebrations, festivals, and fasts to commemorate the saving graces--past, present and future--of Yahweh. These include Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost (Feast of Weeks), the Day of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Feast of Tabernacles, and Purim.

The festivals begin in the spring and proceed throughout the year, revealing a beautiful picture of salvation and the constant provision Yahweh has given to his people. The commanded festivals were so important that the sun and moon were set in motion to mark the festivals ("seasons"; Gen 1:14). There is much to be learned, and reminded of, in the annual festival cycle.

For example, we see how Israel was redeemed from Egypt at Passover and brought into freedom from the bondage of slavery; yet we see how Yahweh used Passover again as a means to free from slavery, but this time from the bondage of sin through the blood of the Lamb of God.

Similarly, in Biblical times the fall festival of Tabernacles was when his people came up to his holy mountain and dwelled in temporary dwellings as a reminder of when Yahweh dwelled among Israel in the wilderness. This language is re-used when Yeshua "tabernacled among us" during his lifetime; and more importantly, the day will come when Yahweh tabernacles (dwells) with his people for eternity. This is all in fulfillment of the promise to Noah and Shem when Yahweh said, "...and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" (Gen 9:27). The feast of Tabernacles is a reminder of the fulfillment of the good promises Yahweh has given his people.

These are just scant examples of how the festival cycle has many lessons to teach us about God's plan, both past and present, for not only for his people but for us as individuals. Christmas, in our meager experience, is "out of place" in our home.

3. Many of the events, practices, and subtleties of the modern Christmas tradition were absorbed from or influenced by non-Biblical religions.

4. Christmas, in America, is extremely commercial and secular. The November-to-December retailer blitz has no redeeming purpose other than to get consumer money into their coffers. What do Christmas trees, stockings, Santa Claus, Yule logs, mistletoe, and the 12 Days of Christmas have to do with... Christ's birth?

While not all Christians are guilty of over indulging in the season, there is no question that the season itself is very commercialized and that the traditions Christians have invested into Christmas are drowned by mainstream commercialism and secularism. Christmas is commercialism at its best/worst.

5. We are very frank and honest with our children, which conflicts with the myth of Santa Claus. Saint Nick is not seen, is all knowing, and brings rewards and punishments accordingly. Many children are led to believe this myth, only to discover many years later that Santa was a hoax -- sprung upon them by their loving parents. This can cause innocent young children to question the integrity of their parents.

Yahweh has made us role models and authorities for our children and we believe we should act and speak in integrity at all times. Willfully sowing seeds of doubt while bearing false witness to our children may cause skepticism about Yahweh, who, like Mr. Claus, is not seen, is all-knowing, and judges and rewards fairly. The truth that Yahweh lives is too important to jeopardize by tricking our children into believing fables in the name of good natured fun and seasonal festivity.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things" (Phil 4:8).

These are some of the major reasons why we, as a family, have decided to abstain from celebrating Christmas. I (Joshua) have not observed Christmas for over a decade and have not seen any compelling reasons why I, personally, would want to practice this tradition.

For our home we believe it is a good example for our children to abstain from Christmas and instead focus our attention to the festive gatherings found in the Bible. This allows us to focus more time, energy, and thought into the Biblical feasts which we find more edifying and wholesome for our lifestyle and faith. It has also made us mindful to give and bless others year 'round (not just once a year) and to try to find the meaning of our Savior's life and work as a matter of daily practice, not season. :)

Comments

That's very interesting,so

That's very interesting,so Christmas is just like a normal day in your house? also, is there any other day in the year that you celebrate Jesus's birth? I hope im not offending you wiht my questions

Joshua's picture

No offense :)

Hi Maddie,

No offense at all. Yes, we treat Christmas like any other day of the week. Of course it is nearly impossible to ignore the fact that the 25th of December is Christmas day seeing as most stores are closed and most forms of media (and lawn decorations!) are pretty tightly focused on the day's events ;) But beyond realizing the day is different for most of the world, it is pretty typical for us. So much so in the past when asked to work on Christmas I have.

As for the birth of Yeshua, we do not celebrate it as an annual holiday of any sort. Tammy and myselfare fairly conservative, but non-traditional, Christians. The book of Jeremiah has a quote that sums up or personal quest of faith. In it Israel had "lost" its way and Yahweh responded with this recommendation: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls". (Jer 6:16) As many may know (or do now!), we believe in the inspiration of the Bible; on a personal level we both decided before marriage that we wished to live lives that were built on and around the Biblical teachings and principles. i.e. "the ancient paths". Part of that process for us was realizing that the Bible doesn't even tell us when he was born (year or day of the year), let alone recommend that we should celebreate this event annually. Instead, in this vacuum of silence, there are recommendations to observe other days that are well laid out and explained.

Of course we don't ignore his birth--not at all! As we do family devotions the topic comes up quite often, even in places not typically associated with "Christmas" (e.g. in the Hebrew Bible in the prophecies and types). Similarly, Tabernacles is a good time to remember his birth in that the multifold message of Yahweh's tabernacling (dwelling) among his people has occured, and will soon again occur (!), lends itself to the topic quite well. Not to mention it is possible (if not likely) he was born around Tabernacles (and thus probably concieved around the Feast of Dedication / Channukha, which sheds a little light on the emphasis of "light" and "tabernacling" in John 1... I am so punny!)

We don't try to downplay his birth. Yet we also are not trying to displace the Biblical feastivals with an event that even the Apostles did not celebrate or establish a teaching on. Of course it is not wrong to recognize his birth, or even to rejoice and celebrate such. It is a fulfillment of prophecy and is a beautiful teaching worthy of sharing--even unto death.

We just choose not to do so in the traditional manner for the reasons above. For ourselves we see too many disconnects between the traditional Christmas practices with the lifestyle we are working toward in our home.

Of course these are our personal reasons and motivations, your mileage may vary, and we are aware of others who take the same information and have made different decisions for their homes. This is a touchy topic for many (not necessarily for us!), especially the last couple years and the backlash toward some retailers and their choice of seasonal greetings. The reason for the post is because of the questions we receive and sharing our ideas on the topic. We have thick skin ;)

Interestingly this year has brought some new experiences. I have had a couple co-workers get a little upset when they learned we did not give our children Christmas presents. I always brace myself for the, "Are you telling me I shouldn't do Christmas?!" which I try not to put myself in that position at all in regards to telling others what they should/shouldn't do unless they ask me opinion to begin with. Somehow when people ask, "Why don't you keep Christmas" and you tell them why it invariably leads to that. Anyhow, this year the trend has been how we are hurting our children by not letting them have fun and celebrate Christmas and get them gifts :|

Anyhow, we really don't make a big deal about it. It is something we do, or more accurately, don't do. We don't board up the windows on Christmas day or shield our children's eyes from lawn decorations and seasonal fair at the store. We don't mind discussing the topic if others ask (as someone did in another thread here) but don't go out of our way to discuss it with others either. I guess we kind of stick out ;)

Ohh okay, Thanks for

Ohh okay,
Thanks for answering, I dont think its so horrible for you guys to sheild your children from it either, the commercialization is rather unnecissary, and keeping the real meaning alive all year is really good:D thanks again for answering.

Do you guys give presents at

Do you guys give presents at all, not necessarily for Christmas, but to personally reward them for good behavior? Or is it something you do if you feel that your child has been well-behaved at any given time, and you give them to something to commend them? I'm sorry if it doesn't really make much sense, I just want to understand this fully.

I know others like you ;-)

I am involved in some conservative Yahoo groups and there are several Christian families who do not celebrate Christmas either mainly because after research, they found out most of the traditions the world has during this season stem from a pagan origin. Of course that's new too me, so I am researching it. Also the word Christmas is actually derived from the Catholic Church and means Christ's Mass, but I don't know. All churches try to claim differnt things. I just like Christmas because of the family and the memories I take away each year.
Some families keep the holiday low key without a tree, yet still put pine garland and wreaths around the house and exchange homemade gifts.
I am sure you get a lot of back lash and criticism from others when you tell them you don't celebrate Christmas. If you really think about it, are your boys really missing out? No...you can always buy them toys, candy, and hold suprises any day of the year that you want, so, I don't think you are depriving the boys. ;-)
I get alot of backlash from other so called Christians because I don't celebrate Halloween. Common sense, it's a pagan holiday...LOL. But oh well. They don't have to answer to God for my life and what I do.

I am not a fan of celebrating New Year's either, but I was just wondering if your church celebrates the New Year by praying it in or do you just have a quiet evening/day at home?

Sorry to kep rattling on ;-)
Dawn

Joshua's picture

Thanks Dawn

Thanks for the feedback :) As for New Years, we do celebrate New Years, just other times of the year hehe For December 31st we stay out home for the reason there are so many irresponsible people out on the roads. We try to avoid driving when we know there are a lot of drunks out (New Years, 4th of July, Veterans/Memorial/Labor Day weekends, etc), especially in the evenings on these days. Same thing here on Friday & Saturday nights as there is a mad dash to the bar. I actually have coworkers who openly talk about drinking and driving :( As for the origins of Christmas, Tim Hegg (a friend and pastor) wrote a short article on why he doesn't celebrate Christmas. I find it a fair and accurate assessment (digestable, documented, if not brief) and is aptly titled "Why I don't Celebrate Christmas" and not "Why you shouldn't Celebrate Christmas".

simplybrandy's picture

I support your choice

It's terrible to think that folks would try to claim you're being hurtful to your children by "denying" them Christmas. We have a very humble Christmas at our house, which may make others laugh or think we're stingy, but gifts and hoopla are not the point of celebrating God's wonderful gifts to us. I cannot imagine a celebrating it without the focus being on Jesus.

joyfullyhis's picture

Thanks for sharing that with

Thanks for sharing that with us!
I agree with just about every thing you mentioned..... especially points #1,3,4, and 5.
We don't celebrate Christmas.... never have and never will. (Well, I don't see us celebrating Christmas ever!!)
"Tammy and myselfare fairly conservative, but non-traditional, Christians."
I would say we are too.
I don't think that childrens are harmed in any way whatsoever if they don't get Christmas presents etc..... it doesn't seem to have affected us at all ;-)
We do sometimes do New Years- but all it amounts to really is staying up till midnight and spending time with each other (our family). One year we sang hymns and such. We definitely don't make a big deal out of it. The only holiday that we really celebrate is Thanksgiving. Sometimes we go to see the fireworks on the 4th of July or have a BBQ. But really we don't make a big deal out of any of the holidays. It's all low key.
I am pretty sure I've read that article by Tim Hegg.
Many years ago for a school assignment, we older kids wrote an essay on why we don't celebrate Christmas. I think I was in 9th grade (13 1/2 years old) at the time.
We got asked last week if we celebrate Christmas (at a house cleaning job) and we said No. The lady immediately asked us what religion we were..... so I guess it does seem odd to some that we believe in Jesus yet don't celebrate Christmas.
~Samantha

Intresting...

I have learned something new today. thanks for the input..
We celebrate Christmas in our house and Halloween etc.. I like the basic ideas of these holidays. I agree with all of you that it has gotten out of hand.

We do celebrate Christmas

We do celebrate Christmas but I really enjoyed reading this. I'm really interested in hearing more about the biblical festivals that you celebrate. How the commemorating of them "looks" in your family, etc.

~Ruth A.

Candy's picture

Good Work!

I like how you explained everything.

So if somebody asks you over

So if somebody asks you over for christmas dinner do you go?

if somebody asks you over

if somebody asks you over for christmas dinner do you go?

Wow very well explained, So

Wow very well explained, So have you ever celebrated Christmas as children and came to this decision now?

Joshua's picture

Yes, we were both raised to celebrating Christmas

Hello :)

Yes, we were both raised in families who celebrated Christmas. My family celebrated it on a larger scale than Tammy's family, but neither was "overboard". (Tammy's family typically doesn't put up a tree, lights, or decorations and keeps it pretty simple [no Santa], although they do exchange gifts). I was in public school and was probably exposed to more typical Christmas activities and whatnot than Tammy.

So how did I come to this decision? Between the ages 16-18 I really took it to heart to study the Bible for myself--I believed that there was a God, specifically that he was the one who inspired the Bible (i.e. speaks to us inerrantly through the scriptures), and that he created ALL things around us. I decided upon a lot of study and prayer that I believed this completely based on the facts and how he had revealed his glory to me through my life. He is awesome!

During my digging into the Biblical text I discovered not only the Biblical feastivals (which our Messiah and his disciples observed) but also the beautiful pattern they reveal in regards to our salvation and Yahweh's provision for us, both individually and corporately. At the same time I had become quite dissatisfied with the secularism / covetousness of the common Christmas tradition in America -- especially the commercialism and the lies about Santa Claus. In my eyes St. Nick is just another example of how we project the holiness of Yahweh into others. ONLY Yahweh knows our hearts and judges righteously what a man thinks and does. Learning that Yeshua was not only not born on December 25th, but that this date was most likely chosen due to practices like Saturnalia, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, and the old Roman solstice (which was on the 25th) made me uncomfortable celebrating the practice.

The practical side of me also looks at the fact 60% of American's went into credit card debt purchasing gifts in 2004 and that in 2005 people spent a combined (est.) $438,600,000,000 on Christmas gifts--that is nearly $1,500 per person in the United States.

So I thought and prayed about the issue and decided that the most important thing to me was patterning my life after the Bible's teachings and, for me, I did not feel Christmas fit into the pattern my Heavenly Father was showing me for my life.

So I stopped celebrating Christmas.

That was about a decade ago. At the time I thought I was the "only" Christian who didn't celebrate Christmas. I had not read much information on the topic when I decided not to observe the day (probably the only book was The Two Babylons, which while interesting and informative, is out of date and inaccurate in some places) and had not met anyone else who didn't celebrate Christmas. For the most part people thought I was kind of loopy!

Over the years I have met a lot of Christians who likewise don't celebrate Christmas and for many similar reasons, so it wasn't so odd as I had thought.

Tammy's story is very similar. She started reading up on Christmas about a decade ago when she was 14 (we didn't know eachother until 6 years ago, so this was before I knew her) and she dialogued with a couple friends who did not observe Christmas. I am sure she could share in more detail than I could, but the primary reasons she became disatisfied with Christmas (just double checked hehe) was the fact Christmas is not a Biblical institution and that the modern practice pulls strongly on pagan traditions. She didn't feel right worshipping Yahweh with practices pagans used to worship their gods. So after a lot of prayer and study she decided to stop celebrating Christmas when she was 16.

About 2 or 3 years later we met, and this was just one of many things we had in common. :) Having similar convictions, individually, about what we believe the Bible teaches was an important thing to both of us. While we do test our faith on a regular basis, having a similar perspective and foundation on faith issues helps a lot. Especially since these are things we chose to do, and were not just taught to us. While not celebrating Christmas is not really a big thing to us (just something we don't do)--definately not a core principle of our faith!--I think I can safely say that in both of our visions for our future family that Christmas was something we did not want to do in our home at all for the reasons mentioned before. Finding someone of similar conviction was a huge blessing :)

So there you have it, the whys/hows/whens of how Tammy and I came to this decision.

thank you!ive been thinking

thank you!ive been thinking hard about this lately and that helps:D

Tammy's picture

Christmas Dinner, etc.

Samantha, I didn't know that your family doesn't celebrate Christmas, either! :)

Ruth, I plan to blog more about the feasts as they approach, in particular Passover, since I usually do a LOT of cooking for that! (Special foods) :D

About attending Christmas dinner, well, it depends. If it happens to be a gathering on Christmas day that is not necessarily about Christmas, then sure! But if it involves christmas decor, holiday activities, and gift exchanging, then no, since we wouldn't be participating in those sorts of things. :)

Last year we did go to my parents' house for dinner on Christmas day. There were some other relatives there also, but no tree, decorations, or gifts. If you didn't know it was being held on December 25, then you wouldn't have known it was a "Christmas dinner" :)

On the other hand, we are invited to family gatherings that are highly "Christmas-y" in nature and we refrain from attending. We see the family members at other times, (like Thanksgiving) so it's not like we're missing anything. :)

I have to disagree with all

I have to disagree with all of you. No matter what you believe, Christmas is a time to teach your children to be giving to others. Certainly that is teaching Biblical Principles.

I have known several children of parents who did not believe in Christmas for various reasons. Every one of them are adults now and every single one of them goes overboard celebrating Christmas. They also HIDE it from their parents and they also very much resent their parents.

I don't know... but it seems to me a lot of the reason you don't celebrate is because you don't want to spend the money to buy your children and others gifts. That in itself goes very much against the Bible teaches.

Candy's picture

uh....

Anonymous wrote
"I don't know... but it seems to me a lot of the reason you don't celebrate is because you don't want to spend the money to buy your children and others gifts. That in itself goes very much against the Bible teaches. "
I seen a poll recently and how GIFTS were important to so many today in relationships in the world today and going out of ones way to do SOMETHING wasn't of value to these people.
I can truely say our SAVIOUR was spending time with others ministering to them and their needs not giving THINGS! HE is my example and I am sure in knowing Joshua and Tammy that they are teaching HIS value of giving to their children, but not of things that are VANITY but of giving of QUALITY TIME and giving out the GOSPEL! Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!

Joshua's picture

Are there specific quotes you disagree with?

Hello Anonymous :)

Welcome to TammysRecipes.com! I am kind of confused by some of your comments. For example, you said:

Anonymouse wrote: I don't know... but it seems to me a lot of the reason you don't celebrate is because you don't want to spend the money to buy your children and others gifts. That in itself goes very much against the Bible teaches.

I double checked my posts in this thread and I couldn't find a place where I said or indicated that one of the reasons we don't celebrate Christmas was because we "don't want to spend money to buy [our] children and others gifts". Matter of factly we stated 5 primary reasons why we don't celebrate Christmas, and this reason is not included among them. And in the conclusion of the original post we said the following about giving:

Joshua wrote: It has also made us mindful to give and bless others year 'round (not just once a year) and to try to find the meaning of our Savior's life and work as a matter of daily practice, not season.

Tammy and I try very hard to be mindful of giving and being examples of sharing to our children. Do we fail at times? I am sure we do, but no one who knows us in "real life" has ever accused us of not giving (things or time) to our children or others.

To be frank, the above quote could use some Christian charity. We have be mindful to respect the decisions of others, hence "Why I don't celebate Christmas". Our aim has not been to be critical or judgemental of others. As Paul said:

NIV Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

While the above passage does not preclude discussions of these issues or forbear blatant contradictions of other scriptures (e.g. observing Ramadan would be a clear example of syncretism and doesn't find authority from the Bible or the principles therein), what it does say has a lot of bearing on our discussion. Namely, Paul points out "judging someone else's servant" and being "fully convinced in his own mind". We are not asking for you or others to agree with us--that is between you and Yahweh. And in regards to judgementalism, Yeshua had much to say:

NIV Like 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Yahweh is very concerned about the condition of our hearts, especially when we cast criticism and correction toward another. While we assume your comments were not intended to bear any malice or ill-will we do sense in the words a strong judgement (Anon said: "you don't want to spend the money to buy your children and others gifts"). This is confusing because your judgement is based on your own perception (Anon said: "but it seems to me") of people you do not know and completely contradictory to the direct witness we have born in regards to our motives. While we agree that giving is an important principle taught in the Bible, we don't believe creating false accusations towards people one doesn't know is something the "Bible teaches".

Anonymous wrote: I have to disagree with all of you. No matter what you believe, Christmas is a time to teach your children to be giving to others. Certainly that is teaching Biblical Principles.

My Christian friends who celebrate Christmas strongly believe anything outside proclaiming and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior is perephrial, at best, to the meaning and purpose of Christmas. And they would all agree that in a Yeshua-focused home giving and sharing should be a daily exercise of love and humility. The time to teach such to our children is Today.

Anonymous, if you take issue with what we have said and would like to discuss this further please feel free to use the site contact form to contact us so we can continue this discussion :)

Tracy624's picture

Wow

I find your comments very rude.
Tammy and Joshua explained their choice very well and if that is how they live their llives, who are we to judge???? I do celebrate Christmas. It's my choice. Just like it is their choice. I think your choice of words were harsh and judgemental.

Very interesting. We do

Very interesting. We do celebrate Christmas, but obviously we don't believe it is a hard and fast rule, nor a Biblically mandated holiday. ;)
My husband is very disturbed by the American practices relating to Christmas (I too, though I'm more used to it), and the materialism and waste. As far as all the "trimmings", we look at them as a redemption of what may once have been pagan practice, although not all of them originated from pagans. I suppose originating from the Roman Catholic church would be just as bad, to some. ;)

I just find it intresting

I just find it intresting that someone would tell anyone that if they do not buy their kids something they are wrong. We are all different, as my mom always said, that is why they make vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
I have been happy to find your web site, I actually found it by accident I was looking for recepies... and found a whole new world that I did not know existed. I had never heard of "Christians" that did not celebrate certain "Christian" holidays or holy days.
I am not hear to judge, I know all of you could quote me chapter and verse on which is right and wrong. But Tammy, and Joshua... they are your boys and raise them and keep your home as you wish.
I am just curious though, neither of you have stated what "faith" you are... I know you are followers of Christ, but when you go to service on the sabbath. What Church is it? I live on the east coast and I have never encountered people that pratice the way you do other than the Amish friends I have made. I find your way of believing refreshing. If you don't want to reveil that information, that is fine. I was just wondering.

PS. Keep the receipes coming, I have got to try those garlic knots, I am like you Tammy, you can never have enough garlic!

Joshua's picture

Oh, there is such a thing as too much garlic! ;)

I like garlic, but I have a limit. Tammy loves her garlic bread reeking of garlic... errr... aromatically bursting forth with the fragrence of garlic.. whatever ;) When it is like that... ick! :)

As for our "faith" we don't mind sharing when asked :) We are followers of Yeshua (Jesus) first and formost. We owe him all we have! We also strongly believe in the integrity and inspiration of the original autographs of the Bible. Of course "Bible believing Christian" probably doesn't answer your question ;)

Per denomination, we don't belong to one. We tend not to label ourselves as labels don't tend to fit and have a habit of "putting you in a box". That said, in general we would fall under the general heading of, "Messianic Judaism". This is a diverse movement that has a lot of different forces pushing in different directions (e.g. Pro-Israel, Hebrew Roots, Torah Communities, and so forth) so we tend not to like the label. What the title does convey though is that we believe in the Messiah (Messianic) and have a desire to learn about the faith and practices of Yeshua and his Apostles ("Judaism", not be confused with the modern variant(s) of course). So we are Bible believing Christians who want to be more familiar with the life, teachings, and practices of our Lord and Savior, and to incorperate these lessons into our own daily lives.

To go a little deeper, there are a couple "paradigms" by which we view the Bible that have consequences in regards to our theology and how we interpret the Bible.

1. While we see the value in history and traditions, we firmly believe the Bible comes first in regards to authority, doctrine, and practice. We don't view the Bible as an anituate relic or that as times change the vast majority of the Bible needs to change. So far this puts us in the "Evangelical" camp for those scoring at home ;)

2. We firmly believe in the inspiration of the New Testament, yet we recognize that the primary cannon of the early Church was categorically the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). It was frequently quoted by the Apostles and Paul, and when the Bible says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2Ti 3:16f) the context is the Hebrew Bible, for just previous to this quote Paul also noted to Timothy, "from infancy you have known the holy scriptures" (v.15; Timothy's mother and grandmother, who raised him, were Jews, Acts 16:1; 2Ti 1:5). Not only a collection of interesting Sunday school stories, we believe the Hebrew Bible is a primary witness to our faith.

3. We lean heavily toward continuity between the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. In Christian circles there are a number of competing paradigms for interpreting the New Testament, the most popular being Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism. In the former there is a wide variety of positions that take a number of positions in regards to continuity and discontinuity. For example, it is not uncommon to hear a pastor speak of "Civil, Ceremonial, and Moral Law". While we don't necessarily prescribe to such a delineation, many groups in Covenant Theology do. From this general approach to the text you have philosophical positions like Theonomy that uphold the continuity of the Civil and Moral Laws, and other positions that uphold only the Moral Law (e.g. many traditional Reformed authors). We tend to fall strongly in the camp of continuity for the Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial Law. And while we hold this general position, for us it the "cart" and not the "ox". What I mean by this is we arrive at the "conclusion" by looking at the sum or parts and the conclusions we reached on them individually (versus taking this position and interpreting difficult passages in this light). This is not the most common conclusion in Christianity; we are decidedly in the minority party with this position. That said, we DON'T tend to hold many hard and fast doctrines and are willing to study any issue out and shy away from adhearing to a general interpretive framework (e.g. like Systematic Theologies) that forces specific interpretations. We try to engage each issue individually, with an eye toward the big picture. Sometimes the big picture needs some adjusting ;)

4. This of course leads us to the important distinction between Sanctification (holiness, living a holy lifestyle) and Justification (salvation). We absolutely believe in a distinction. It is kind of late here, but in a nutshell: Yeshua's atoning work is completely responsible for our justification (salvation). This is a work of Yahweh. Sanctification we view as multi-facetted. Yeshua begins and ends this work (initially through his calling to faith, and ultimately and completely at our resurrection), but between those bookends is our current life where we believe that we also have a responsibility to live sanctified (set apart, holy) lives to the standards and teachings of our God. Basically we take the Reformed position on Justification/Sanctification, the only major difference is that we view more continuity with the Hebrew Bible beyond the 10 Commandments. This in turn means we tend to adhere to more of the instructions and commandments from the Hebrew Bible.

At this point you can probably tell I have a strong appetite for theology and Biblical history :) Tammy and I have been blessed with a spouse and co-heir who has similar foundation of beliefs as well the same desire to seek these issues out and try to live them in our daily life. We also believe our friends share the same desires and effort to serve our Savior and we enjoy discussing these issues, even if we may have different opinions.

Early Christianity

Joshua, have you done much reading of (very) early Christian texts? It's surprising how many we still have (and no, I don't mean that Gnostic claptrap). It seems to me that the earliest Christians (first couple centuries, say) had the best vantage point in terms of Christianity as God wants it to be. I mean, you have people like Clement of Rome - who is thought to be mentioned in the New Testament - and Polycarp, who learned from the Apostle John, and Irenaeus of Lyons, who learned from Polycarp and wrote several volumes after Polycarp's death so that the beliefs and practises of the Apostles would be set out and defended. Then there's Justin Martyr who wrote even earlier than Irenaeus to the Roman Emperor refuting lies and misconceptions about Christianity. Then there's Ignatius of Antioch, the Didache, et cetera. Definitely a lot of good stuff for those of us interested in theology and history!

It was interesting to read

your reasonings, Joshua. We do celebrate Christmas here at home, after some years of abstaining while we were with a reformed church. It's funny how the issue of Christmas causes such division - I think because it is so personal and so much part of our family history and memories. I was saved by the Lord at a carol concert so I always feel especially thankful at Christmas time and aware of the softness of hearts to the gospel message.

We tell our son that santa is a story based on a real man who was a good, generous man, and that Jesus wasn't born at Christmas but that many people like to cheer up the winter by remembering His birth and having fun.

May the Lord bless you, Tammy and your precious boys today and every day. In Christ, Lucy

I love your attitude about it!

We grew up not really celebrating Christmas, but have as adults used it as a time for family to get together and do things together. It is hard for me as I think I do not have a hard time having a family celebration, but it is just hard for me all the stuff that goes with it. My dad used to read us Two Babylons for fun........

Wow!

My husband, son and I do not celebrate christmas either. We have very similar stories to yours, and it is wonderful to actually see someone else who doesn't celebrate christmas for all of the right reasons. Thank you so much for posting this and for the spirit in which it was written.

Shannon

Total agreement about "Santa"!

A hearty amen on the 5th point!

Our family does celebrate Christmas, and while none of us go overboard, I would prefer an even simpler observation than the rest of my family.
I'm not one for decorations and all that hype. There's no point in getting stressed out, or spending a fortune! To me, it is another time to be publicly thankful to the Saviour for coming to die, and to spend time with family, and extra stress and expense contribute to neither objective!
We give small/simple gifts, spend time as a family, have a good devotional time, etc.

I am thankful, however, that people (relatives, especially) are generally more open to the Gospel around Christmas time, so it provides more opportunities to share our faith. I do like to try to capitalize on that. : )

I like Christmas, but I do know it was highly improbable that it was the actual time of his birth. But, people have birthday celebrations on days other than the actual birthday. ; ) I try to stay away from the commercialism and vain traditions side of it. I appreciate the break from schooling, the extra family time, openness to the Gospel, etc. I think we need to remember and be thankful for His coming, death, and resurrection, throughout the whole year, not only at certain times!
I very much respect those of you who choose not to celebrate, likewise do not hold it against those who celebrate with a bit more fanfare than I would prefer (as long as they are doing nothing WRONG).

I really appreciate your Rom.14:4-6 attitude.

Oops...

Forgot to sign my name to that last comment here...

~Marissa

Good for you

We are blessed in our family, to have many friends with a wide spectrum of "beliefs". We have many friends that do, or don't do, different holidays, books, movies, clothing styles, tv., I could go on :-). This has helped our children ( and us!) to not be judgemental and to not be a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters.
I think it's funny that people think you are horrible for not buying presents for a holiday you don't celebrate. My parents and siblings were shocked and outraged that I would steal my daughter's childhood and sap the fun out of Christmas ( their words) by refusing to even start Santa. And they are Christians, for whom the holiday should be about Jesus.
I think it just goes to show that if our eyes are not directed heavenward then they are looking for splinters in someone's eyes.;-)

if somebody else gave your

if somebody else gave your kids gifts, are they aloud to keep them?

Joshua's picture

Gifts

Hello anonymous, it really depends. As parents, we have some criteria about gifts (namely stuff that is age appropriate as well as appropriate for our family/living situation). Something that chews through a lot of batties (expensive) and is loud (I sleep during the day) don't really work well for our family. So we tend to request that people pass along gift ideas to us before they purchase a gift. It is no fun for the children or the gift giver if a gift isn't appreciated or underutilized.

So in general people we know who are inclined to purchase gifts do inquire before they buy. And in that context the issue of Christmas gift exchanging (which we don't participate) does usually arise. We don't discourage gift giving (within reason), but around the Christmas season we do ask that family and close friends NOT send Christmas gifts; or send gifts 3 months before wrapped in Santa Claus wrapping with a "Merry Christmas" card. Our family and close friends have all been really respectful of our beliefs and haven't had a difficult time with gifts. Some even find it a relief that they don't feel obligated to get a gift just because it is Christmas, so it saves them some money. Often, those closest to our family, find other occassions to give the children a gift or two.

We aren't too caught up in "gifts". Most toys and such are a lost investment (cheaply made, easily broken, outgrown quickly) and our children really prefer we tend time with them and do interesting, new, and exciting things with them. They love interaction and their totes of toys go unused when we offer them such. As it is, 3/4ths of their toys aren't in the house at any one time because they are just a huge pile of uninteresting objects. Once a week or two we let them exchange toys out and it is like getting new toys on a regular basis ;) But they definately have too many, and we try to pass things along to others that we have found our children don't like... although it is very tough to do when someone buys an expensive toy. We have gotten a few toys that go very underutilized, and if the person had asked if the kids would have wanted one we would have told them no. So now we have an expensive paper weight.

Hence why we politely ask gift givers to run ideas before us first. That and safety & redundancy issues can make a gift giver feel underappreciated :(

Faith

Do you attend a church?

Gwen's picture

According to the scriptures...

Hello Tammy and Joshua,

Thank you so much for sharing!
We attend a non-denominational church, and the families that we regualry fellowship with have a variety of viewpoints and convictions about holidays. I enjoy hearing different viewpoints and the fellowship with other believers. I believe it is beneficial to discuss and individually persue understanding of the scriptures and seek out ways to worship and glorify Christ in our homes, families and our community.

As a side note regarding the OT and NT. I totally agree that the OT is not a back seat driver to the NT. They are synergistic, and all culminate beautifully in Revelation. Joshua, when you stated that the OT was the primary cannon for the NT churches, I absolutely agree.

But it is also true that the early churches* recognized the special authority given to the apostles, and that the apostles writings were preserved and copied with the same precision that was employed in scribing the Torah. In 2 Peter 3:16, as Peter refers to the misinterpretation of Paul's writings, I believe Peter uses the term 'scriptures' to include the writings of Paul. This indicates to me that the early church was aware of the importance of the writings of the apostles. Also, in Revelation, John records the letters to the 7 churches as dictated by Christ. Christ ends each letter with an instruction for all of the churches to heed what is written. I believe he specifically means all 7 churches read all of these letters, as well as the larger meaning of all future churches to heed the letters as well.

As some churches seem to downplay the 'validity' of the OT for 'modern' Christianity, I believe your points are very well spoken, and I appreciate your sharing them. Thank you again...it is a delight to share in and rejoice in the wonderful things from God's law!

* when I say 'churches', I mean regional congregations that followed Christ's teachings. (As opposed to co-owners of buildings for social gatherings.)

I love your well thought out reasoning.

Hello,
I stumbled upon your blog through some whole foods/frugal living/thoughtful living blogs and am really impressed with the thougtfulness of your convictions and reasonings. I appreciate that in anyone who chooses to go against the flow of modern society :)
I personally feel almost completely opposite you on all points (I am not a Christian but do celebrate a very spiritual Christmas season) but recognize your struggle to explain your beliefs and practices. The pagan background of the festival that you are choosing not to participate in is the backbone of my participation, but neither follow the accepted norm of Buy-Gifts-Be-Frenzied-Don't-Think-Hey-Look-Another-Thing-To-Buy kind of Christmas season :)
Thank you for putting your very eloquently explained and thoughtful words out there for others - including me - to read and think about.

Question regarding children and non-celebration

I must say first off that while I have not read all comments, some really shocked me.

I just had a question I did not see addressed. I was curious what you teach your kids in regards to other kids belief in mythical beings (santa, tooth faerie, easter bunny ect). You mentioned not teaching these in your home. I just wonder how you broach the subject with the kids when they are exposed to it elsewhere. Or how they react to other kids why may say such and such is real.

thanks

Tammy's picture

Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy!

Our children know about the make-believe things like santa, the tooth fairy, etc... We have tried to teach them to be polite about others' beliefs and not to tell other children that Santa isn't real (if their parents have told them that santa was real). If someone mentions santa or the tooth fairy, etc. we just say "he/she doesn't come to our house!" :)

This was very interesting

This was very interesting reading. Thanks for so clearly explaining why you guys dont celebrate Christmas. And honestly, it makes perfect sense. Now, I'm not going to stop doing Christmas at our house (sorry, I can't help it, I LOVE everything about Christmas!), but I really enjoyed reading about why you guys dont do it and I respect and admire your choice very much. God Bless!

Not Alone

Thank you for sharing. I am a relatively new Christian and God has been working in my heart about many of the issues discussed here. Just last year, my husband and I got honest with our children about Santa, the tooth fairy and so on. We are looking at how we can more closely mimic a biblical lifestyle and embrace the vitality and teachings of the early church.

It is nice to know we are not alone in questioning some ideas that most Christians seem to think are a basic part of being a Christian.

I have been studying your site about your observance of OT festivals, the Sabbath and more.

Who would have thought I find so much "food for thought" from googling "Prairie Gold bread recipe"! lol

Have you read the book "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up" by David Bercot? I believe you will find it interesting.

I have been contnually amazed since I first got saved and simply read my Bible how few Christians I meet live much of what the Bible says. I was not quite able to follow all of your husbands comment about how various Christian groups utilize the OT (not his fault but mine!) but it seems to me that most pick and choose the parts they feel like following and discard the rest. I am asking God to give me wisdom in this area.

I wait patiently upon HIm.

BTW, one child pointed out to my children that she discovered that if you rearrange the letters in S-a-n-t-a you get S-A-T-A-N. Just a coincidence? I do not know.

Mrs. Carrington

thank you!!

I really appreciate reason #5 as I could have written that myself! thank you so much for posting this!

I Agree!!

I totally agree, our family doesn't celebrate Christmas anymore, but that doesn't mean we don't
celebrate Yeshua's birth!! When I was little We did celebrate Christmas, but I noticed that every year I was less and less happy, and I started to wonder whether Santa clause was real. I'm 15 now, and though I remember some of the traditions we did, my brother and sister will remember mostly the biblical feasts that we celebrate, and that makes me happy because they are all in the bible, and when instead of finding out that Santa clause or the tooth fairy aren't real like I did, they can celebrate things that YHVH told us to celebrate, and be happy knowing that they are doing something that is actually backed-up by the bible:)!
-Kelsey

Christmas

Joshua and Tammy

I am a Muslim and my wife is a convert to Islam. Her family does celebrate Christmas and we don't. We do go to Iowa and visit for few days, eat the dinner and enjoy the company. Although many in my faith frown about the idea of Christmas I have not stopped Diane or the kids from exchanging simple gifts, mostly clothes, with grandpa and grandma. Yes, we do have to sit and listen to all the singing and so on and so forth but it makes them feel happy we are there and don't have any impact on our faith.

We do not go for the Santa thing at all and made it clear to the kids so no issue.

As for the birth of Jesus, in our book the Quran it talks extensively about that event and about his blessed mother Mary and her virtues and purity. One passage though does speak about her giving birth and that God told her to shack the Palm tree with her hands and the ripe date fruit will drop. Now first that is a miracle by itself since a fruit bearing date tree is way too large for a girl who just gave birth or anyone to shake anything off it. Second dates ripen late August making the birth in the early Fall not December.

I love your family, you house and your recipes, keep them coming.

By the way, can I give some of these recipes to my brother to use in his small restaurant? Pleeeeeease.

Totally agree!

I agree with all your reasons. I find it difficult to raise my children to not want to participate in Christmas when they attend a Christian school. But I'm trying to find ways. I beleive we as a church should be observing the feasts that Jesus observed.

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