We just got through the Christmas holiday season, and the way this day and time of year has been commercialized, and as a parent of two young children, my concern level has been elevated to an all-time high. Should Seventh-day Adventist parents celebrate Christmas with their children?
Your question is an important one at a time when our world has become increasingly commercial, despite the great needs around us. This is a good time at any stage of one’s life to ponder the significance of Christmas, and whether it serves a purpose noble enough that Christians should participate in it.
If you type the word Christmas in the search box of Wikipedia.org, the free online encyclopedia, you will find lots of information about how Christmas came to be, and its observance by Christians and non-Christians alike. Briefly, it is a yearly event celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, most commonly observed on December 25 by billions of people around the world.
While it is true that no one knows exactly when Jesus was born, by the early to mid-fourth century, the Western Christian Church—essentially the Roman Catholic Church—placed Christmas on December 25. The practice was followed over the centuries by other Protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and others.
Ellen G. White offers counsel on this topic that Seventh-day Adventists, and Christians of other faith communities, can find solid guidance on how to navigate this global phenomenon. [i] White essentially suggests that is not easy to ignore this celebration. However, she counsels that Christmas should not be turned into a day of self-indulgence; rather, this day can be used to turn the minds of our children to God and His cause. The habit of gift giving—an important part of Christmas—can be employed to good use, as parents give gifts to their children that shares with them a clearer picture of God.
We especially like the counsel to make the Christmas season a time to help those who are less fortunate. Ellen White wrote: “Christmas and New Year celebrations can and should be held in behalf of those who are helpless. God is glorified when we give to help those who have large families to support” (The Adventist Home, p. 482).
Our prayer is that in the years ahead Christmas will be a time for you and your children to celebrate the value of giving; and by so doing become the heart and hands of Jesus, receiving great blessings yourselves in the process.
[i] “Christmas,” The Adventist Home, 1952.
Willie Oliver, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist, and certified family life educator, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist, and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.
The original version of this story was published on Adventist World on January, 2015.