As Christmas rapidly approaches, have you ever wondered how different cultures and peoples celebrate Christmas?
Mormonism is a faith that’s often shrouded in mystery and misconceptions, and so you may well be wondering if Mormons celebrate Christmas?
Yes, Mormons celebrate Christmas. For Mormons or rather members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, Christmas is an important celebration that honors the birth of Jesus Christ.
While Mormons may do things a little differently from other people, they do celebrate Christmas.
At the center of all Mormon Christmas celebrations is the birth of Jesus Christ and what his birth means to the world.
This article explores how and why Mormons celebrate Christmas.
Why Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?
Although Mormons self-identify as Christian, not everyone agrees and some people even view Mormonism as a cult.
So often it’s not immediately obvious to people outside of the Mormon community whether Mormons celebrate Christmas or not.
There are some fundamental differences between mainstream Christianity and the practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church), which is the largest denomination of Mormonism with over 16 million members. Some of the differences include:
- Mormons believe in more than the Holy Bible, and also believe in other books of scripture, including the Book of Mormon;
- There are three distinct gods: The Father, Son and Holy Ghost;
- The Heavenly Father has a physical body, and is not a Trinitarian God; and
- Jesus’ parents were Mary and the Heavenly Father, and had a natural birth.
Despite the differences, recognising Jesus Christ as our Savior is one of the key overlaps between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity, and is the reason why Mormons celebrate Christmas.
For Mormons, Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Savior and give thanks for His sacrifice and atonement.
The Christmas Story for Mormons
The Christmas Story is one of the most familiar stories in the world. It tells the story of how Jesus Christ came to be born in Bethlehem.
But how does the Christmas Story differ for Mormons?
For Mormons, the core Christmas Story is the traditional Gospel version, which is taken from Luke 20:21. In 2019, the LDS Church produced a beautiful depiction of the traditional tale, called “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story”.
But in addition to this familiar tale, a Mormon Christmas service also includes cerses 3 Nephi 1:9-21 from the Book of Mormon, which tells the traditional story from the perspective of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi.
Both Lehi and Nephi are important prophets in Mormonism and it was Lehi and his family who first journeyed to America, bringing with them the Hebrew scriptures.
How Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?
So now that we know Mormons do celebrate Christmas, what do they actually do at Christmas?
Mormons tend to focus less on the materialism that’s now synonymous with Christmas and more on spirituality.
Most families have their own special Christmas traditions, but will also share in community activities, like:
- Religious Ceremonies
- Nativity Displays
- Helping Others
- Relief Society Celebrations
- Ward Party & Dinner
Let’s talk about these in a bit more detail.
Like other Christian churches, Mormons will attend Christmas services within their individual wards.
In addition, the President of the LDS Church and his two counselors broadcast a special devotional message to all wards and the general public.
A model nativity scene is created and displayed at the church, which depicts the birth of Jesus. Alternatively, Mormons may go and view one another’s nativity displays at their homes or in a central location. Often there may be a live nativity scene where members of the ward reenact the Christmas Story, occasionally involving animals!
Christmas is frequently a time when we especially remember that others may be less fortunate than ourselves.
Mormons are no different and will engage in projects to help others, such as making donations of toys, food or clothing, helping the elderly or singing carols at care homes or hospices.
Relief Society Celebrations
The Relief Society is a Mormon women’s organization that focuses on encouraging women to support one another as well as the rest of the Mormon community.
At Christmas, the Relief Society will hold a celebratory event where its members can craft, bake, and read the scriptures together.
Ward Party and Dinner
This is where members of the LDS church and their families gather to hear a Christmas worship message, exchange small gifts, and sing.
It’s also a time when they enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey or ham, stuffing, vegetables, and mashed potatoes.
But you won’t find prohibited beverages like tea, coffee, or alcohol on the table.
It may be surprising to non-Mormons, but Mormons do celebrate Christmas all around the world.
Mormons have a strong sense of community, which is reflected in the ways they choose to gather and celebrate Christmas.
Nonetheless, Christmas is a special time of the year to recall the life of Jesus Christ, our Savior.