Some years ago, I attended a Christmas Eve service with my grandmother. She converted to Mormonism as an adult, and was raised in a more traditional/ritual religion (Ukrainian Orthodox). It’s a religion where they make a big deal out of Christmas Eve.
She liked attending services of other churches on Christmas Eve.Â She loved the music, the lights.
When I was a teenager, my ward went to a different format for Christmas.Â I can’t remember if most Christmas celebrations would be a two hour program (with hymns and music) or if it would be the regular block schedule.Â I think it may be the bishop’s discretion (I could be misremembering).
Part of the reason was to be different than the Roman Catholic church.Â I think Mormons sometimes had/have a lot more in common with the Puritans than they would readily admit.
My Dad also said that it was because Jesus wasn’t born in December.
I just always thought it was interesting that my grandmother was open to other traditions around the holidays, and other ways to celebrate.Â Mormonism doesn’t have any prohibitions on attending other churches or church services (unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses).Â But it is not common (at least it wasn’t common for me growing up).
It’s a paradox.Â I’m sure there are many mormons who are happy to have the Christmas holidays celebrated as they are currently.Â With a block schedule or special program on a Sunday around Christmas; with no special program on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.Â And there must also be members who would like to see more ritual and tradition surrounding Christmas.
For me, I’ve enjoyed attending holiday celebrations at different churches.Â I like making latkes and talking about Kwanzaa with my kids.Â I really like our festivus pole. And some day I’ll make the traditional Ukranian Christmas dinner – probably when my kids are older and I have more time.
The history surrounding the different celebrations is pretty fascinating.Â And how the celebrations have changed over the years.Â The difference for me now is that I explore more traditions to see what I want to adopt, and what is okay to let go.