The official publications of the Jehovah's Witnesses say Jehovah's Witnesses haven't celebrated Christmas since 1926. The group was founded in 1879 and called themselves the Bible Students. Later they changed their name to 'Jehovah's Witnesses'.
Today, the religion teaches that celebrating Christmas is one of the worst sins you can commit. They say Christ has 'refined and cleansed his followers spiritually' and that's why Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas. But what does this all mean? Do you know Jehovah's Witnesses? Here's how to understand their beliefs about Christmas.
Here's some of the things JW's can't do related to Christmas.
This time of the year is especially tough on children who may not understand why they can't do things other children do. Many adults feel 'free' from the pressure to go Christmas shopping, exchange gifts, etc.
Although Christmas isn't celebrated, JW's can have get togethers and parties on any day of the year, including Christmas. They typically do not hold large events on December 25, because people might think they're celebrating Christmas.
The same idea applies to accepting gifts. They can accept gifts on any day of the year, but you have to make it clear it's not a Christmas or holiday gift. i.e. your gift must not have anything to do with Christmas. That also means it can't be wrapped in Christmas paper. Even if it's not a Christmas present, if you give them any gift around Christmas time, it's not guaranteed they'll accept your gift. Most likely they will but there's a chance their conscience will not all them to do so.
Here's what the Golden Age of December 12, 1928 said, in the article, “Christmas, Its Origin and Purpose.”
“Satan . . . has taught the people to give more prominence to the birth of the babe Jesus than to the death of the man Jesus, in order to hide the importance of the ransom.”
“Every one is aware of the spirit of frivolity, debauchery, drunkenness and revelry so prevalent during the Christmas season . . . Surely none of these things honor either Jehovah God or His Son.”
“The Devil has now succeeded in grafting his counterfeit festivals, feast days, fast days and holy days upon the church . . . The Devil has succeeded in getting the people to adopt all his wicked schemes and to give them the name Christian, in order that thus he might mock the great Jehovah God.”
If you ask any Jehovah's Witness, they will tell you everything they teach is in the Bible. Yet no where in the Bible does it say that Christians can't celebrate the birth of Christ.
Their publication, the Golden Age, admitted in 1919 that the birth of Jesus 'was and is of greatest importance.' The Golden Age, December 24, 1919, p 215.
Can Jehovah's Witnesses exercise their conscience and celebrate Christmas if they want to? No. The Watchtower religion forbids holiday celebrations even though the Bible does not. If caught, Jehovah's Witnesses are excommunicated based on their secret rule book for Elders only, Shepard the Flock of God.
Regardless of what the Bible says or whether an individual's conscience would allow them to celebrate Christmas, celebrating holidays is forbidden by the organization. The only celebration that is allowed is the celebration of Christ's death. This annual event draws millions of Jehovah's Witnesses and is called the Memorial Celebration. However even at this special event, Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to partake of the bread and wine unless they belong to 'the anointed class'
Excommunication from the Watchtower means that your family and friends are not allowed to associate with you (except for limited exceptions). They can't even say, 'Hi. How are you?'. Those who do not obey, all the Society's rules are shunned by family and friends forever.
Your family won't even go to your funeral decades from now if you are excommunicated or disfellowshipped. According to the Watchtower, it's 'God's command' not have even the slightest communication with 'apostates'. Watchtower magazine, April 15, 2012, Article: 'Betrayal—An Ominous Sign of the Times!', par 16, 17
All those who leave because they no longer want to follow Watchtower rules are treated as 'wrong doers'. Watchtower magazine, Sept 15, 1981, p 23, par 14-16. They are persecuted and hated by family members still trapped in this religious cult.
The practice of treating loved ones who leave their religion as if they're dead began in 1952. Since then millions have been shunned. Breaking up families affects Jehovah's Witnesses and non believers who have relatives inside the organization.
Because of the severe consequences of celebrating holidays such as Christmas, obedience is the best option for most Jehovah's Witnesses. Only the strongest and most authentic individuals are willing to give up their family, friends, and religion in return for freedom.