FEATURE / OPINION – St. George News
Why do Unitarian Universalists celebrate Christmas?
There are sectarians who think society is fighting a war on Christmas and feel oppressed. There are mirror-image radicals on the opposite side who resent having a sectarian holiday forced on them.
We can strike a balance.
Howard Thurman wrote that the work of Christmas is to find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry, rebuild the nations, bring peace among brothers and sisters and make music in the heart.
Einstein said, “We can believe nothing is a miracle or everything is!”
Many UUs don’t believe in illogical virgin births. But many do believe in the miracle of birth and the hope that every child can make a difference. Einstein said, “We can believe nothing is a miracle or everything is!”
UUs helped create how Christmas is celebrated in the USA. For 200 years the Puritans squelched Christmas celebrations due to too much drinking, partying and overeating.
Universalists openly celebrated Christmas for years in New England in the 1780s. In the 19th Century they actively pushed for Christmas celebrations.
Unitarians called for public observance of Christmas around 1800. It was not Biblically sanctioned and they wished to celebrate a secular holiday.
Our founding fathers were UUs, free-thinkers and Deists. Franklin, Jefferson, John and John Q. Adams gave us freedom of religion and separation of church and state. Jefferson hoped in this blessed free-thinking country all would become Unitarians.
Christmas is a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time
Charles Dickens said “For much of my life I was drawn to a Unitarian faith.” Dickens wrote that Christmas is a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time – the only time people open up their hearts freely and think of those less fortunate.
UUs practice the religion of Jesus rather than a religion about Jesus. We celebrate all world religions, spirituality, humanist teachings, words and deeds of prophetic women and men and the experience of mystery and wonder.
We celebrate Christmas, because Jesus was an enlightened person, who taught by word and example how to overcome oppression without violence; how to build an inclusive community.
UUs have contributed significantly to some of Christmas’ most enduring customs and themes. In 1881, a UU minister, James Pierpoint wrote “Jingle Bells”. UU minister Charles Follen was one of the first in the USA to decorate an indoor Christmas tree.
UU Noel Regney wrote “Do You Hear What I Hear” during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Abolitionist Edmund Sears, a UU Minister wrote “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” as a protest against the Mexican American War, calling for peace, goodwill and justice.
We feel Christmastime is about joy, hope, wonder, love, compassion and peace.
Christmas belongs to all who recognize Jesus as an inspiring, significant historical figure. As Transylvanian Unitarian Minister Francis David said, “We need not think alike to love alike.”