Most people are aware that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas (or most other holidays). They do not fly the national flag or commemorate birthdays either.
Why not make merry?
In the case of Christmas, the Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid the custom because it was not established from a biblical precedent, but from heathen circles. The Bible does not provide the exact calendar day on which the Lord was born. The holiday stems from a pagan one, the Saturnalia, in honor of the god Saturn. Furthermore, the celebration leads to worship of Christ; in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses Jesus is not God.
Birthdays are on the “not to do” list because only evil people celebrate them. The only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship Jehovah (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27). Since “good people” in the Bible are not recorded as having celebrated their birthday, Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t either. Celebrating birthdays, say JWs, stems from the ancient “false religions,” not their own.
In the case of national holidays, the Witnesses will not fly a national flag because it is giving honor to something other than Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have found loopholes so that they too can take part in holidays. Yesterday one of my customers brought a Christmas present for one of my neighbor’s children. The customer had met little Emily during a recent visit and had taken a liking to her. She bought her a doll. When I was asked to deliver the present, I had to explain that the neighbors may not accept the gift because they belonged to the Jehovah’s Witness religion. My customer was saddened by the notion that the children would not receive gifts this year so I agreed to discuss the exchange with the child’s mother. When the JWs returned home I explained the situation to the JW who told me they would accept the gift as long as it wasn’t wrapped and not delivered on Christmas Day. She went on to say that she and her brother (whose role it is to be the father of the family since she has no husband – they are Méxican immigrants) had been purchasing gifts for the kids throughout the holiday season but dispersing them in increments so as not to give the impression they were Christmas gifts.
Birthdays are celebrated in the JW household too. Instead of giving the child gifts, they paint their child’s bedrooms or have parties – not “birthday parties,” mind you, merely “parties.”
The JW neighbors also celebrate national holidays by flying the American flag – at my house! When the children received a small U.S. flag from school they proudly placed it in my front yard, a stone throw from their own front door.