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Celebrating a Secular Christmas
- Spread cheer. When you hear Christmas songs, instead of being grumpy smile and whistle along. Being cheerful during the Christmas season really will help in spreading Christmas spirit to those around you, plus it helps you enjoy it more too.
- Wish others a Merry Christmas if you know they celebrate Christmas. If you’re not sure, just say Happy Holidays! Either way, you are spreading the holiday cheer.
- Enjoy your country’s Christmas traditions. Let yourself be a kid again and enjoy the holiday spirit. Whether it’s leaving cookies out for Santa Claus, watching for Baba Noel out the window, or leaving your clogs by the fire for Santa, indulge in a little holiday tradition and give into the magic.
- Do some research about Christmas customs around the world. There are some great books that describe these traditions and give additional recipes and craft projects. The web is also a great resource for seeking out new and exciting traditions and new recipes.
- Go to a local cultural center to learn about different Christmas customs. Many museums and libraries hold special holiday events and exhibits for the family to attend. Some Christmas tree festivals feature the usual tree decked out in ethnic ornaments and decor.
- Do a little holiday time travel! You can also research holiday customs of American past. Christmas customs of years gone by are pretty much different than those of today. Popcorn and/or cranberry garland threading is a custom that is old as Victorian times. Before the glass balls in American holiday displays, came the ornaments made of paper and corn husks. Many moms fashioned granny dolls or yarn dolls for their daughters. Pick up any of these customs to put a twist on your modern celebrations.
- Some customs however are not really practical or safe. Don't put candles on trees! You can use safer electric candles instead. Using real fruit or other edible items can be expensive and viewed by others as a waste of food. Select artificial or inedible ones instead.
- Decorate your house for Christmas. The possibilities for decorating are nearly endless. Put Christmas lights on your house. Hang mistletoe in the doorways (particularly if you know that special someone is coming over,) hang a homemade wreath on your door, or put Christmas figurines like Santa or Rudolph out on your counters.
- Buy and decorate a Christmas tree. Go with your family to your local Christmas tree farm to cut your own or head to a lot selling pre-cut Christmas trees. Pick out a Christmas tree that fits your house. After you’ve gotten your tree situated, wrap it in lights and begin hanging the ornaments. Don’t forget to water it occasionally and safeguard it from pets!
- You can decorate your tree with family heirloom ornaments or try something new by decorating a tree with Star Trek or superhero themed ornaments, or with little trains, or with Disney characters for example. It’s really up to you--be as creative or traditional as you like.
- Join up with friends and family. For many people, Christmas is about gathering with friends and family to enjoy each others company and celebrate the holiday. The day is a national holiday and most folks get a day off work. Take advantage of this time to reconnect with friends and family. Create your own traditions or celebrate with the traditions that have been passed down in your family.
- Invite your friends or family over for Christmas dinner. Make it a potluck if you want to keep expenses (and the workload) manageable. The important thing is just to get together with people you love and make the winter a little warmer by sharing the warmth of caring with them. Consider making a traditional Christmas dinner complete with roast turkey, or create your own traditions by branching out and making whatever you want!
- Go Christmas caroling.Either have it at your home, go door to door, or go to an old folks' home and do it. Learn some Christmas or seasonal songs, and sing! It's fun, and even if your voice isn't great, hopefully, you won't be singing alone––you'll get some cover from your more talented friends! If you can’t go caroling for some reason, blast Christmas music throughout your house, while you’re wrapping presents, or during your Christmas party.
- For song ideas, try songs like "Frosty the Snowman," "Holly Jolly Christmas," "Silver Bells," “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Let it Snow,” or “It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas.”
- Watch Christmas movies. Have a movie night during which you invite friends or family over and serve hot apple cider and popcorn or cocoa and cookies. Play Christmas movies like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” "A Christmas Story", "Santa's Apprentice" or any number of other seasonal movies.
- Do a generous act. This is in the spirit of spreading joy, kindness, beauty and love during the Christmas season. Maybe you can volunteer at a homeless shelter, buy some vintage decorations at or donate some of your unwanted decorations to a thrift shop, drop spare change into the local charity drive bucket, help out someone with decorating like doing the tree for them and putting up outdoor lights, or maybe you could help with a local toy drive or food drive for those who have less than you do.
- Consider giving gifts wrapped in lovely wrapping paper. You don't have to spend big bucks on gifts––small tokens are fine. Some families enjoy giving gifts to one another to show their appreciation for one another. You can buy gifts or make them yourself. Learn how to become an expert gift wrapper here.
- Gather around the Christmas tree with your family on Christmas morning and exchange gifts. Or, sit by the fire with your loved one and enjoy Christmas together.
- Do something fun with your family outdoors. There's nothing as fun to do on a Christmas night than to walk or drive around town and neighborhood looking at local decorations. Head down to the beach or the local park. In areas where it snows, go sledding or build a snowman! If there’s no snow, bundle up and go on a long walk or hike with your loved ones. It’s always great to get out of the house and breath in the fresh air.
- If you live in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, your Christmas is likely to be a warm one. This gives you the opportunity to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy some of your Christmas Day swimming, walking, resting on the grass or playing a game outside together. Be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat!
- Deal with "Scrooges" gracefully. If someone says "Let's cancel Christmas celebrations" or something else negative, simply say something disarming, like, "Sorry you don't enjoy this holiday. You're still welcome to come and join us for the day if you haven't got anyplace else to go." No matter how they react, just blow them off as kindly as possible and continue your celebration, showing compassion to the poor Scrooge. Also, try and see things from their point of view. Ask them if they're going through a tough time or whether they have a specific problem. Don't be quick to judge.
- Any one can get the holiday blues and become a Scrooge. Remember unfortunate things don't take a holiday even during the holiday season. Anyone can still experience problems with relationships at home or work/school. Teens and kids too be very emotional time bombs. Sometimes it's a death in the family or to a loved one. Hefty bills can cause many people on holidays to feel anxious. Any person can have a burnout or mental meltdown from having to do all the extra chores, shopping and decorating without help. If a certain element of Christmas sets off angry, sad, or emotional reaction try to eliminate that factor from the Scrooge's life if possible. Put yourself in the Scrooge's shoes how would you feel in his/her situation.
- If a tradition starts upsetting you or anyone in your life feel free to adjust them or to omit them. Compromise, discuss and negotiate. Entire families or individuals within may grow out or be bored of family traditions, decor and customs.
- Try or suggest some of other ways to celebrate Christmas in this article for a Scrooge.
Celebrating a Religious Christmas
- Reflect on the reason for Christmas. If you're not sure about it or you're rusty on the background, do some research. In the Bible, you can find the Christmas story in the Gospel according to Luke, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as the Gospel according to Matthew Chapters 1 and 2. Consider reading these chapters aloud as part of your family's holiday. Ask members of the family for their own impressions of the stories given, to personalize their understanding.
- Talk to children about the meaning of Christmas and tell them the stories about Christmas. Find beautiful illustrations to accompany the Bible stories to capture their interest. Also, keep in mind that doing this for too long might bore their pants off. Try to keep these sessions short, something they can cherish.
- There are also many great children books and coloring books that illustrate the Christmas Story in an easy to read format. Some books take the Christmas story verses directly from the Bible others tell the story in the way that's different.
- In many cultures it's a custom to have the youngest (able) child place the baby in the cradle or the cradle in the stable of the Nativity Scene. A religious store can supply also Tree of Jesse symbol activities and you can cut Christmas cookies into camels, angels, Nativity figures, stars, crosses using cookie cutters. If you look around in some old Christmas books there are easy and fun crafts for religious ornaments for the whole family.
- Decorate a small 1 to 4 foot tree with angels, Nativity Scene figure ornaments, Nativity charms from a bracelet and jewel tone or metallic ornaments. A star, angel or crown can be placed on top of such a tree.
- You can easily incorporate religious ornaments into the main Christmas tree, use religion as a theme or use suggestions from the previous paragraph. Don't be afraid to add actual everyday Christmas items and scenery to your tree that doesn't have commercial in it. Animals, flowers, fruits,bells,candles, houses are good examples.Poinsettias and holly don't have to be commercial icons or any flower or creature that's seen on Christmas. Not even a snowflake or the snowman. Choose a plain teddy bear not the Santa Bear. Queen's Lace flowers or something that closely resembles Frankincense and Myrrh can also be included in flower arrangements.
- Frankincense and Myrrh oils can be purchased in many herb, candle or floral shops and used as fragrance instead of traditional holiday scents.
- Invite God to come and celebrate the day with you. Some people choose to do this by attending a Christmas Eve service. Some do it by sitting before the Christmas tree and silently inviting God to just be with them. However you decide to do it, for the Christian, making God a part of your day is vital.
- Choose some activities that you and your friends or family will enjoy and which fit with the meaning of Christmas. Consider preparing some special foods for the poor and needy, visiting people who live alone or have no family close or dropping in to see the sick in the hospital. You might even give handmade gifts to people who aren't likely to get much this season.
- Spend time with others to celebrate. Gather together at the homes of friends and family, and spend some time in fellowship with others who believe as you do during this special time.
- Give to others. Whether to your family and friends, or to others less fortunate, spend some time this Christmas in giving. We give in remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to the Savior, but at the very heart of it all, recall that we are to give because He first gave to us.
- Spend time quietly being thankful for the gift of Jesus to the world that we celebrate on Christmas. This is the day that Christians have set aside to celebrate the beginning of the greatest gift mankind has ever received. Coming into the Christmas season with a grateful heart is essential if you really want to make the extension from Jesus's giving of His amazing gift to your giving and receiving.
- Create your own nativity scene. A beautiful way to celebrate Christmas is to create a nativity scene within your house or on your front yard. If you have children, ask them to help you. They will (or might not, it depends) love making the little angels and other figures.
- If you can't create your own nativity scene, consider attending a Nativity play at your local school or church.
Celebrating a Secular Christmas with Children
- Involve your children in your family’s traditions. Wherever you live in the world, teach your kids your family’s traditions at a young age. There is something about Christmas time that is absolutely magical to children.
- Tell your kids Christmas stories. You can do this by reading to them, telling them stories before bedtime, or watching Christmas movies with them. A great idea is to buy a book about all the Christmas traditions around the world. This will give your children an opportunity to learn about other cultures’ traditions.
- Help your children believe in Santa unless they are over eleven years old (By that time, they usually stop believing in Santa). Explain who Santa is and how he is going to come visit your house. To really help your children's belief in Santa, help them leave cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. When they are asleep, eat the cookies, leaving some crumbs as evidence and drink the milk (if any was left out.) If your child leaves Santa a note, create a note from 'Santa' thanking your child or answering questions that he or she may have asked. Make sure you write the letter in a different handwriting than your normal one.
- You can also leave carrots out for the flying reindeer. Have your kids leave carrots out for the reindeer and when they’re asleep, nibble on the carrots, leaving some gnawed pieces behind as evidence.
- Decorate Christmas cookies. Whip up a batch of sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies and have your children decorate them (heck, you can decorate them too!) Your kids will love making their cookies into colorful, delicious creations.
- Have your children help decorate the tree. Once you have put up the Christmas tree and wrapped it in lights, gather your family together to decorate it. If your children are very little, help them along by lifting them up. Assign them special ornaments that they get to put up on the tree.
- Show your children how to hang stockings by the hearth. If this is part of your Christmas tradition, your children will love the anticipation of hanging their stockings by the fire and waiting for Santa. A cute idea is, when your children are asleep, to fill their stockings and then take them off the hearth and leave them at the foot of their bed. In the morning, ask them to bring their stockings into your room and you can all open your stocking gifts on your bed.
Taking the Commercial out of Christmas
- Choose ritual and tradition over gift giving. Establish family rituals and traditions that honor the spirit of Christmas and involve all family members. It might be attending church as a whole family, it might be giving a meal preparation task to each member of the family, however young or old, or it might be writing heartfelt letters to one another describing how their acts of kindness have helped you through the year. Whatever your ritual (or set of rituals), place more emphasis on caring and sharing than trying to outdo one another with gift giving.
- Avoid spending money you don't have. Don't go into debt for the sake of one holiday. You don't have to give expensive purchased gifts; instead, you can make a gift. Many people feel a homemade gift is better because it shows thought and consideration for the recipient. Give within your means, people will understand and you set an excellent example that liberates others from the consumer treadmill.
- Gift ideas include: bookmarks, framed family photos you have taken over the year, holiday cookies or breads, or "cookie kits" (the flour, sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips and other spices are layered in a plain Mason jar, and instructions attached to a piece of raffia or a ribbon letting them know what to add, whether it's water, oil, egg, or whatever). See How to make your own Christmas gifts for more ideas.
- Learn some of the non-commercialized Christmas songs. There are some beautiful carols that you can sing together––maybe someone in your family or circle of friends can play the piano or guitar; if so, encourage them to play, and have a sing-along. Consider carols like "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Joy to the World," and "The First Noel." You can find the lyrics online if you don't know them.
- Other songs with scenery like "Winter Wonderland", "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year""It's Beginning to Look Lot Like Christmas" " Sleigh Ride", " No Place like Home for the Holidays". Also consider the Antarctica movie theme song . These can be great non commercial additions to any playlist.
- "Ring Christmas Bells" "Give Love on Christmas Day" "Jingle Bells"," O Christmas Tree""Where Are U Christmas" "This Christmas" "Baby It's Cold" "Let it Snow" "Alone on Christmas" "Somewhere in My Memories""Holly Jolly Christmas" "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" don't have a strong commercial message in them even thou they are often played in Christmas commercials or accompany promotions during the holiday season. Even thou some songs may mention "Santa" once or twice. He's not the main focus of the song. Also the Nutcracker Ballet Suite and "Feliz Navidad" have nothing to do with commercialism. "12 Days of Christmas" is not a going shopping song but the "gifts" are really religious symbols.
- Also you can play philanthropic songs that also are about goodwill toward others and that inspire a good feeling "Stuff That Dreams are Made Of" "Heal the World" "Earth Song" "Seeds of Love" "I Hope You Dance" for example "We are the World" makes a great holiday song as well!
- Mute the ads. Try to stop the "buy this for Christmas" ads from invading your home life. The consumer economy has its place but it shouldn't really be in your living room during a sacred season. Teach kids to mute the ads and do it yourself. Or, record your favorite shows and fast forward your way through them. Everyone will feel more peaceful, and there is less incitement to go shop till you drop.
- Avoid decorating for holidays in a commercial way. You don't have to decorate your home or Christmas tree with presents, stockings, or the traditional figures of Christmas like elves and Santa or even Licensed Characters. Do we see these enough on TV or DVDs? Simply your home and yard doesn't have to become another advertisement for the next new decoration trend or look like a Christmas mall display. This doesn't mean not to decorate with the latest technology but don't make it so obvious. Look around and consider using other decorations that represent real life items of the season or artistic ornaments. If you must use Santa or commercial icons try not to make it the focal point of the decor. Santa although a well loved Christmas icon for many people, may be viewed as a commercial tool of retailers by others. It can also like commercialism take away from the true meaning of the season and cause stress and discomfort for some people. Make note how Red and Green, Sparkling Flashy decor or Candy Cane stripes can be viewed the same way.
- Also try to keep the light displays tasteful and not have your house looking like the Vegas Strip. Thousands of lights,an over flashy or overly bright display can for some people symbolize the "more is more" commercial message.If you have an outrageous outdoor display try to limit the time it's on or how long it's up to avoid neighbor disputes and high energy bills. Humble Decor may make the local Grinch or Scrooge smile and give you a compliment. It can also help avoid neighborhood light competitions that can get out of hand easily.
- Your color scheme doesn't have to be the traditional red, white, and green thing. Any color theme can work for any holiday. Freddy Krueger's sweater is well red and green stripes!
- Keep Christmas in December or at least after Thanksgiving! Another disturbing trend that retailers and some people are doing is called pre-Christmas decorating. Some know how to do this slowly and gracefully by taking it few items of Christmas Decor at a time per weeks. This sounds fun and great at first but it will cause much more stress and headaches than an outrageous light display because people full forced into "have to be the Christmas spirit" rather it's Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July. You won't be spreading joy but instead spreading discomfort or stress for you, the community, and your family. Considerate decorating can also cure the Scrooge or Grinch syndrome.
- Also make note how some seasonal decor and new marketing schemes are becoming too much like Christmas. Some toy stores are starting to turn the Easter Bunny into Santa Claus! What idiot came up with Christmas in July? Do we really need an entire Halloween tree complete with a "black evergreen"? Lights and other small decor is not so obvious. Tinsel Jack-o-Lantern and Tinsel Snowman is not a big deal.
- Don't let commercialism steal the beauty out of things that occur around the holidays. A pristine snowflake, the flaming red poinsettia, the festive shiny leaves of holly or the beautiful evergreen tree. Reindeer are an actual real creatures. The nutcracker actually is tool used to crack nuts instead of guarding presents. Toy soldiers, trains, villages, bears, doggies, the sweet sound of jingle bells, or the sweet taste of candy canes don't always have to be associated with Santa or commercial logos. Every snowman doesn't have to be named Frosty.
- Be aware that some people can find Christmas a hard time, especially if a loved one is ill, there are family problems, or a loved one has died. Do your best to comfort them and to include them in your good wishes.
- The white dove to many cultures is a symbol of peace and harmony. It's always a good decoration for the holidays.
- To stay organized with stocking stuffers, try getting as many large plastic bags as there are stockings/people, label each one with a persons name. You can use cardboard boxes, or even plastic grocery bags, but I prefer plastic bins. I have three children plus me and my husband fill each other's stockings, so we have five plastic bins, plus one for our dog, who also receives presents in his stocking. Put the bins high up, preferably in the tree area. After stockings are open, presents can go in bins so they won't get lost in the piles of wrapping paper.
- Remember your Christmas may not have white snow-topped trees, or a huge pile of presents, or a wonderful choir singing Christmas carols, but your Christmas celebration and thankfulness is all that is required to properly celebrate. Anything more is a bonus.
- Some families, particularly those in Germany or with German heritage, like to put a glass pickle on the Christmas tree. The first one to find it either gets a special gift for being the most eager or gets to open presents first. Traditionally, this ornament goes on last.
- If you ever encounter people who say you cannot celebrate the holiday if you are not Christian, avoid them or advise them that they are free to do what they want in the privacy of their own home.
- Always enjoy Christmas with your friends by calling them to your home and do fun with them by creating some Christmas cookies and if you in some of different part of the world use your computer devices or tablets to get connected with your friends and celebrate by sharing pics and sometimes on a group video call.
- Avoid proselytism. Although your beliefs are respected, you should also appreciate the beliefs of others. In the spirit of spreading goodwill to all beings, look forward to the fundamentally jolly spirit of the day.
Related Tips and Steps
- How to Create a Christmas Wreath
- How to Celebrate a Strictly Religious Christmas
- How to Make a Christmas Cake
- How to Buy a Christmas Tree from a Tree Farm
- How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Elegantly
- How to Send a Letter to Santa
- How to Sing when Carol Singing
- How to Enjoy a Nice Christmas Holiday