People who don’t celebrate Christmas

IN THE Catholic Church calendar, the “octave” of Christmas ends on the eighth day after Christmas, which is January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Christmas is a Solemnity, so it is not celebrated for just 24 hours.

It is given the honor of eight days (octave) of celebration which is a custom that traces its roots to Old Testament feasts. There are countries and denominations who don’t celebrate Christmas. Christmas is just another day.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas. Why not? First, Jesus commanded that we commemorate his death, not his birth — Luke 22:19, 20. Second, Jesus’ apostles and early disciples did not celebrate Christmas. Third, there is no proof that Jesus was born on December 25; His birth date is not recorded in the Bible. Fourth, they believe that Christmas is not approved by God because it is rooted in pagan customs and rites — 2 Corinthians 6:17.

They likewise don’t celebrate Labor Day, New Year’s, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving. Their only observance is an annual memorial service to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.

When he gave the memorial of his death, Jesus said, "Keep doing this in remembrance of me." So he wanted us to remember his death, not his birth.

Most religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism don't recognize Christmas and Easter as they are ancient Christian festivals so the only religion to celebrate Christmas and Easter is Christianity.

To the Jews, it is easy to understand why they do not celebrate Christmas. For 2,000 years, Jews have rejected the Christian idea of Jesus as messiah. He was just a prophet.

To them, Jesus did not fulfill the Messianic prophesies which are: Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28); Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6); Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease as it says "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4); Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one as it says that "God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).

In the Muslim world, Christmas is not celebrated publicly, except in the minority Christian communities in the Middle East, but in North Africa – none at all. There are no Christmas trees or decorations. There are no Christmas dinners or reading of Christmas stories. Turn on the TV or the radio, and you will not find Christmas programs. There is no "Christmas spirit" at all! Quite depressing for a Christian living in these parts of the world.

In North Africa, for example, Christmas is commonly viewed as a "European" holiday where there are big parties, with feasting and drinking. They see it as a pagan festival with roots in ancient Rome. The Biblical message of the Incarnation does not seem to be getting through.

While the story of the birth of Christ is actually related in the Qur'an, in Sura 19:16-35, the story is given a very different slant. The Virgin Mary is told by an angel that she will give birth to a "pure" son, "as a sign unto men and a mercy from us." She withdraws to a desert place to give birth, alone, under a palm-tree, then returns with the infant to her people. When they chide her, supposing she has been unchaste, Jesus speaks up from the cradle in her defense, announcing himself to be a prophet.

The passage concludes by denouncing the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, misinterpreted grossly: "Such is Jesus, son of Mary, the statement of truth about which they dispute. It is not befitting for God to father a Son."

Hindus revere and recognize Jesus as a Prema-Avatar of Divine Love because many of his teachings were about finding the God within and service to our fellow man. They do not celebrate Christmas only Diwali (Festival of the Lights) and New Year.

A festival called Pancha Ganapati is celebrated for five days of gift-giving and festivities within the home especially for children to the five-faced elephant God. The festival runs from December 21 through the 25th. It is a time for outings, picnics, feasts, exchange of cards and gifts. Each day a tray of sweets, fruits and incense is offered to Pancha Ganapati. The festival calls for making amends, forgiveness and apologies. There is the settling of debts and disputes. Love and harmony is extolled and charity and loving presence fill the homes and hearts which is very Christian in essence.

Although Buddhists do not practice the same rituals as Christians during Christmas time, some do celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Like Christians, Buddhists believe that love, kindness and peace are all things to celebrate.

Since the Buddhist teachings are all about peace and goodwill toward mankind Christmas is a time when Buddhists can focus on some of the similarities between their religion and Christianity. They enjoy decorating their temples with what most would recognize as Christmas decorations. They send and receive cards from loved ones. They hold vigils late at night and light candles. Some even listen to Christmas music.

To us Catholics, Christmas is about Jesus, the birth of our Redeemer. We gift gifts to our loved ones and share our blessings because we honor our Savior this way.
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