It’s that time of year, and so I figure this is a timely time to answer the question “How do Mormons celebrate Christmas?” I suppose for some, the question might even be “Do Mormons celebrate Christmas?” Yes, Mormons do celebrate Christmas, although how we celebrate Christmas differs from family to family and from culture to culture, just it does for all Christians. In Chile I think they have a tradition of putting shoes out instead of stockings, or something like that. All I really know is that I grew up in Southern California, and that Christmas at my house was, for the most part, indistinguishable from Christmas at any of my other friends’ houses, except for my Jewish friends, whom I was always jealous of because they seemed to get a lot more presents than I did.
In my family, we put up the Christmas tree, gave each other presents, had hot cocoa, went out caroling, generally attended a Christmas party at our church, etc. Of course in Southern California there was no snow, so no sledding or anything like that. If you’ve ever watched A Christmas Story, then yeah, that’s pretty much what Christmas was like for me growing up, except my mom never cooked a turkey at Christmas, only on Thanksgiving.
Now that I have children of my own, we’re starting our own Christmas traditions, which are likewise pretty simple, although my wife and I are making efforts to make Christmas very much Christ-centered. When I was a kid I always knew that Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Christ, and yeah, I was that kid who knew Santa wasn’t real and ruined every other kids’ dreams.
The other night our family went to see a live nativity scene at a local Mormon church. It was outside and they had all sorts of animals and people dressed up. They even had two live camels, although my daughter seemed to like the baby goats the most. After waiting outside in the cold for an hour and a half, we finally made it into a building they had made look like a marketplace or street in ancient Bethlehem on the inside (they really did a good job of it, too), and we walked in between buildings and actors until we rounded a corner and they had soft music playing and a mother and father with a live baby in a manger. I wasn’t expecting anything but I got really emotional. It was such a peaceful scene, and as I imagined what it would have been like to have been able to see our Savior right after he was born the Spirit or something worked on me and I couldn’t keep the tears back. Even our 2 1/2 year old daughter got really reverent, and after we left she kept wanting to go back and see “baby Jesus”.
I’m thankful to be able to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth, life, and atoning sacrifice at this time of year. I’m grateful for the love our Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ have for all of us. I know that Jesus Christ was born of Mary and was the literal Son of God. I know that Christ is my Savior, and that only through him can we be forgiven of our sins and return to live with our Heavenly Father. This is my testimony, my witness, that I leave with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.