From the November/December 2022 issue of Discern Magazine

We Didn’t Celebrate Christmas Last Year. Here’s Why

When you stop doing something you’ve done all your life, it can be challenging. A couple of Christians tell why they stopped celebrating Christmas.

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Discern magazine contacted us to ask about our spiritual journey that led us to stop celebrating Christmas last year. Here are our answers.

What led you to decide not to celebrate Christmas?

Our decision to not celebrate Christmas started a couple of years ago when God allowed us to embark on a journey to understand His way of life and the importance of aligning our lives with His standards. We read in John 4:23-24 that we needed to worship God in spirit and truth. That scripture weighed heavily on our minds as we began trying to understand how God wants to be worshipped.

As we dove deeper into the Bible, Scripture continued to show us new, deeper truths that we had been blinded to our whole lives. When it came to the subject of Christmas, we had always been taught that it was Jesus’ birthday, that tree decorating and Santa Claus were innocent aspects of the holiday and that observing the 25th day of December truly served God.After we learned that Dec. 25 was not Jesus’ birthday and some of the history of the festivities and Christmas trees, things just didn’t add up. We just could not see how a day surrounded with lies, pagan origins and deceit could truly be pleasing to God.

We found the example in Exodus 32 of man designating times to worship God against His orders, and we discovered God’s command in Deuteronomy 12:32 to not add to or take away from His commands. God allowed us to learn about Him and to love and understand Him on His terms, not the world’s. Once our eyes were opened to the truths of what Christmas represented, there just was no way we could partake.

Was Christmas a big celebration in your families growing up?

Brianna: Since my family had always been involved in a mainstream Christian church, Christmas was always a big deal. Santa was never a big deal, but my parents greatly emphasized that Jesus was the reason for the celebration. Christmas movies and music were played the day after Thanksgiving, and the whole house was always decorated. Attending a Christmas Eve church service was an annual tradition followed by cookie decorating and a celebration with extended family on the day of Christmas.

Jonathan: I wouldn’t say Christmas was a big celebration, but we observed it year in and year out. We followed all the Christmas traditions of decorating the tree, hanging lights, gift giving, Santa Claus, etc.

As we got older, our family still observed the holiday, however, they were trying to make the day more about the components that matter: family and love. They could see how commercialized that time of year was, and the anxiety and stress Christmas can bring.

What was it like not to celebrate Christmas for the first time?

Brianna: Because Christmas is such a big deal to the majority of my family, they took it pretty personally when we decided not to celebrate it. For this reason, it was a little sad and hard for me to watch all the false joy being shared/posted/witnessed all around.

On the other hand, I felt very honored to have a deep understanding of God’s expectations and desires for our worship and to abide by them, even when it didn’t feel easy or convenient. 

Jonathan: It felt odd to not celebrate Christmas for the first time. For 30 consecutive years this was engrained in my life. So to not celebrate it felt different. The enemy does quite a job of making sure you feel like you are missing out on something.

It was a blessing to see our eyes open even more as the 25th of December drew closer. God exposed things that were in plain sight our whole lives. An example of that was when we were driving in the car one day and the old Christmas song “Deck the Halls” came on, and out of habit we didn’t even think to change it. But then the lyrics seemed to stand out even more than before. When you listen to that song, it is all about pleasing the false god yule. There were plenty of those types of confirmations that reminded us that Christmas was not what it had appeared to be, and assured us that we had made the right decision.

Did other people try to change your minds? If so, what did you say to them?

Yes, absolutely. However, what we observed was that no one that attempted to change our minds tried to discuss the Bible with us. And they did not want to hear about what the Bible said regarding Christmas and the fundamentals of the holiday. The passage in 2 Timothy 2:23-26 about being gentle in our explanations provided us much comfort in those difficult moments of hard conversations. We could at that point see how the enemy has such a grasp on certain traditions, people and mind-sets.

We understood at that point that it was not our battle to fight, and we just needed to make decisions for our family to more closely follow God’s Word. Since we knew God reveals the truth in His timing, we had to respectfully hear what was said and let them know our decision was strictly based on making sure our lives were in accordance with God’s standards.

What will you tell your child about Christmas?

We feel blessed that God allowed us to have our eyes opened on this subject and that Camila (our first child, born last year just after the Feast of Tabernacles) will have the opportunity to know the truth from the start and not need to fight through the deception like we did. We look forward to teaching her the value of having a close and strong relationship with our Heavenly Father, and how the principles of Christmas do not add value to that relationship.

This is such a great subject to demonstrate how deception can creep in, to teach Camila that we should consistently ask ourselves why we spiritually do what we do and find scripture to support it.

We feel an important concept to teach her as well is that we aren’t missing out on anything by not keeping Christmas since God has given us special holy days that do please Him through worship that He has commanded.

Have you found that some activities associated with the holiday can be done in an appropriate way at other times of the year?

There are absolutely activities usually connected to Christmas that can be done at other times of the year and not just during one day in the season—such as family time and showing love through giving gifts. We know that God loves families that are growing their love, spending time with each other and encouraging one another.

Since we chose not to celebrate Christmas this past year, we’ve had to get creative and be intentional about creating other opportunities for us to spend time with our families in a manner that is pleasing to God.

So, what do you think is really the most wonderful time of the year?

The enemy does a really good job at making it seem like we are missing out on something by not observing Christmas. We were talking about our decision not long ago and concluded that although we lost some holidays that were empty, deception-filled days, we gained seven holy festivals. Those festivals each carry meaning, truth and commitment to God’s way of life.

Simply put, all the holy days are wonderful times of the year, and we know they are pleasing to God, which brings much more fulfillment.

What advice would you give someone deciding not to celebrate Christmas?

Brianna: As you make the decision for yourself, gain a deep understanding from God’s Word of why it is wrong to celebrate Christmas, and become really confident in your decision. Also, be prepared for spiritual warfare. If you face potential opposition from family, friends, coworkers or anyone else important in your world, remember, they are only a face of the enemy trying to plant doubt in your mind.

Above all else, pray often and invite God to be a part of any feelings you experience—the good, the bad and everything in between. Your decision will draw you closer toward worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

Jonathan: I don’t know how to follow up my wife’s answer, because she did a great job! Some perspective I can add: follow the process that allowed you to arrive at your decision. Most likely you made your decision because you focused on prayer, studying the Bible and seeking truth that serves God on His terms. Even after you have made your decision, keep that process going. The enemy and spiritual warfare will show up, and it is important you have godly tools to overcome in those battles.

About the Author

Jonathan and Brianna Lillibridge

Jonathan and Brianna Lillibridge are members of the Austin, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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Discern Article Series

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