MORE News Articles: JWs and Xmas

by MadApostate 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • MadApostate

    This Reporter curiously had access to a number of JWs. JW himself???

    Jehovah's Witnesses reject many holidays and the notion that they are a dour group

    By Bill Smith
    Of The Post-Dispatch

    12/22/2001 06:04 AM


    Aaron Ealy, 5, reads the bible with his mother Janis during the Jehovah's Witness Theocratic School Wednesday at the Kingdom Hall on Park Avenue in St. Louis.
    (Jamie Rector/P-D)

    AS TANNER OSTERMANN, 9, lies nestled all snug in his bed on Christmas Eve, there will be no visions of a remote-controlled Quantasaurus Rex Megazord dancing in his head.

    The St. Charles County fourth-grader isn't getting anything for Christmas -- no Hot Wheels raceway set, no Nintendo GameCube, not even a little plastic snowman Pez dispenser pushed down into the toe of a holiday stocking.

    The Ostermann family has stopped short of posting a "No Trespassing" sign on their rooftop, but make no mistake: Santa and his gift-laden, pagan sleigh most definitely are unwelcome here.

    That, says Tanner, is exactly the way he wants it.

    "Getting presents isn't bad," said the little boy with the short yellow hair, "but the idea of celebrating something that's false, that's what kind of annoys me."

    There are times, he says, when he feels a "little sorry" for his Christmas-rejoicing friends. "But I let them celebrate what they want to celebrate."

    Tanner and his family are among an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the St. Louis area, people whose religious beliefs prohibit them from celebrating birthdays and most holidays, including Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    The holidays, they say, are not mentioned in the Bible and are not grounded in Christianity. People celebrate the holidays, they say, more out of a sense of tradition and sentimentality than to honor Jehovah, or God.

    For Tanner and thousands of children like them, it means no birthday cakes, no Easter egg hunts, no Halloween costumes and no Christmas or any other traditional celebration of the winter season.

    It may seem a deprived existence to many people whose lives are so linked with the trappings of the holidays.

    But that, Witnesses say, is simply not the case.

    "People see us as very stern and morose," says John Scott Flumerfelt, 61, a janitorial contractor and elder with the Jehovah's Witnesses Central Congregation in St. Louis. "But we are happy, optimistic."

    Bill Kissell, 57, an elder in St. Charles County, says he often feels sympathy for co-workers and friends who are so caught up in the rush of the Christmas season.
    "Sometimes, I pity them," said Kissell, who had a Madagascar palm tree in his dining room last week in a spot where many homes might have a freshly cut Scotch pine covered in blinking lights and ornaments. "I look at them and see all these poor, stressed-out people."
    Kissell said he became a Jehovah's Witness at age 11.

    "It was my decision," he said.

    He remembers speaking with relatives, asking them to stop giving him gifts for Christmas, he said.

    "I let them know that I was taking this very seriously," he said. "I told them I loved them, but if they continued to send gifts, I would consider it an insult."
    Flumerfelt was 15 when he was baptized, he said. His parents "didn't like it."
    "My father thought I was going through a phase," he said.

    When he told his parents he would no longer celebrate holidays with them, they thought "I was turning my back on them," he said.

    Danielle Hanks, 16, of St. Louis, a student at Parkway West High School, became a Witness about nine years ago after spending much of her childhood celebrating the season. Her mother, Andrea, said the decision to turn away from the holidays caused a rift between Andrea and Andrea's parents.

    "They thought it was a horrible thing to do to their grandchild," Andrea Hanks said. Danielle said she talked to her grandmother several times about her decision and, ultimately, her grandmother came to accept Danielle's faith.

    "She thinks it's great that she can take her shopping and buy her something whenever she wants to," Danielle's mother said.

    Rebecca Fette, a Jehovah's Witness from St. Louis, said she ran into similar problems when she and her husband became Witnesses.

    Their parents told the Fettes they felt they were depriving the children of "a happy time," they said.

    Rebecca's son, David, 14, a student at
    McKinley Classical Junior Academy and a lifelong Jehovah's Witness, said he never has understood the attraction of Christmas.

    "It's just one day out of the year when people get presents," said David, dressed in a dark suit and tie. "You can get presents any time of the year."

    David and Danielle say they have faced very few problems from their classmates - none of whom are Jehovah's Witnesses. Their teachers, for the most part, have been understanding.

    Rebecca Fette says she has made it a point to seek out her children's teachers at the beginning of each school year and explain to them how Witnesses feel about holidays.

    "Whenever a holiday activity came up," she said, "the kids would go to the library or we'd bring them home."

    Said Trevor Ostermann, 13, Tanner's brother, "It wasn't really a big deal."
    Recently, Tanner's school, Harvest Ridge Elementary School, changed the type of class parties it sponsored, his parents said.

    The annual Halloween party, which had focused on costumes and Halloween-related games, became the Fall Party, with an emphasis on non-Halloween seasonal activities.

    The annual Christmas party became a winter party, without Christmas lights, Christmas trees and Santa decorations.

    This year, for the first time, Tanner got to remain in his class and party with his classmates.

    "I had fun," he said.

    Interestingly, the Ostermanns recently put small lights - similar to Christmas lights - around the deck at the back of their house. It helps to illuminate the area during summer activities, they say.
    But they have made it a point to keep them off in the weeks leading to Dec. 25.

    "We don't want the neighbors to think we may be celebrating Christmas," John Ostermann said.

    Matt Morris, 18, a Jehovah's Witness from St. Louis who works in his father's construction business, said he has faced occasional ridicule by his peers for not celebrating Christmas.

    But, he says, "I'm not shaken by it.

    "What we do is proof of our love of God and that is what helps us get through it," he said.

    Reporter Bill Smith: \E-mail: \Phone: 314-340-8125

  • myMichelle

    I have a question...

    Tanner and his family are among an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the St. Louis area, people whose religious beliefs prohibit them from celebrating birthdays and most holidays, including Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    What holidays are JWs permitted to celebrate?


  • Lollylou

    I would love to write a reply to those witnesses who contributed to that article.
    No, the precious little children hate the pagan celebrations. They like being different. BULL____!!! Ask my grown kids who are no longer JW's how they really felt growing up.
    Oh and what about renaming the holiday celebrations? Change a Halloween Party to a "Fall Party", etc. I say a duck by any other name is still a duck!!!
    I remember a witness family who of course didn't celebrate birthdays, but they let each one of their children pick out a special day to be "Their Day". They got presents, a cake and picked out the special menu. DUH! sounds like a birthday celebration to me.
    Witnesses delude themselves into believing that their life is the greatest. I liked the janitor quote. He of course didn't go to college because the witnesses frowned on a higher education, and even if he did you can't get ahead to far or you are materialistic!
    The article made me fume.

  • oscartheduck

    "I say a duck by any other name is still a duck!!!"


  • Adonai438

    to mymichelle: they can only 'celebrate' passover because its 'mentioned' in the Bible but even there they can't participate in everything- only 144,000 in all of history can take communion there.
    It's just another way to be different.
    God in the Bible commands lots of Jewish holidays so that proves that the idea of holidays is not 'Satanic' even Jesus himself is recorded as celebrating them including the 'festival of lights' which is Hannukah. The idea of Holidays is clearly not wrong- they just NEED to be different. They say that you don't need a special day to say I love you and give gifts but again its all about them.
    They don't care that Christmas is about Jesus' birth, don't care that easter is about the resurection, don't care to celebrate their children blessed with another great year of life!

  • Blackcat

    We as a family have just enjoyed a fantastic Christmas together, something that my wife and i never had as kids(as we where both raised as jws)

    The sense of excitement and magic on a childs face on Christmas morning is something to treasure...funny how i never felt like that at kingdom halls and assemblies !!

    I think Christmas is a time for families, to share gifts and each others company and it draws people together. I visited my JW parents home 2 days after Christmas,it was like a mortuary !!! no excitement or enjoyment about the festive period, they where due to attend a meeting, maybe that can account for the gloomy faces!!

    I found being a jw was very dour and extremely boring, guess thats why i enjoy this time of year so much.

    Anyway, got to go, another party to attend tonight, yet more alcohol! bet rutherford wishes he was with me!!

  • Blackcat

    After all he seemed to enjoy it too!!

    Grace, mercy and peace be multiplied unto you! Am taking advantage of an opportunity to dictate this note to extend to all the dear friends throughout the United Sates and Canada my heartfelt thanks for the great love bestowed upon us and manifested in the numerous Christmas presents which I and my associates have received, as well as cards, letters and messages of love. May the Lord bless you one and all ! I am unable to write you personally, and so am asking that this general message be given you. I am overwhelmed by you expressions of love, dear brethren. May the Lord re- ward you richly ! Your brother and servant by his grace. J. F. RUTHERFORD."

  • patio34

    Hi Mad Apostate,

    I think you're right the guy may be a JW, but not only because of the many dubs he quoted. The article may as well have been in the WT, as biased as it was. There was only one side shown in THIS article.

    Thanks for the info,

  • patio34


    Great Xmas quote from Rutherford!


  • dins

    Ugh! Makes me want to gag after reading that.

    Funny, I never felt that way growing up in the WT. I remember being sent to the library every time there was a birhtday or holiday party, wishing I could stay, being ostracized and constantly poked fun of because I couldn't salute the flag, go to dances, talk to who I wanted. The list is endless.

    On the contrary, I remember laying in bed on Christmas Eve crying to myself, wishing I could just be "normal" for once. Never thought, Oh gee, how Pagan and I'm so glad I don't celebrate holidays. Can't wait to go to school today...wonder who's going to beat me up today?

    I would never subject my child to any of that. I think most people would admit that Christmas is more of a time to get together and show love and appreciation for loved ones.


  • FreeFallin

    The holidays, they say, are not mentioned in the Bible and are not grounded in Christianity. People celebrate the holidays, they say, more out of a sense of tradition and sentimentality than to honor Jehovah, or God. (quote)

    So whats wrong tradition and sentimental feelings?


  • Alleymom

    I remember seeing a picture on the internet a year or so ago of a WT Christmas celebration from back in the days when Christmas was still celebrated.

    Can anyone tell me where I could find that picture again?


  • ozziepost

    G'day Mad,

    The article would have been prepared by a reporter with the Post-Dispatch whose editor contacted the Society's Home Office. Those Witnesses selected to be interviewed were selected by the City Overseer. This type of article is quite normal at this time of year when newspapers want to provide information on how some in the community celebrate Xmas (or in this case, don't celebrate it).

    I don't see we can draw any inference about the religious background of the journalist. After all, at this time of year, they just want to write 'feel good' type articles.


    "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."


  • BluesBrother

    It was interesting to see the "standard phrases" that make out that everyone in "the world " is really having a lousy time at Christmas and they just do it out of formalism ,not being able to refuse.
    Thats what the J Ws are taught, and if ,like a lot of us , you were brought up in it then you believe that to be true.

    Since I have been dealing with real people I cannot see that that has been the case.

    Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually - Jimi Hendrix.

  • ElwinRansom


    Exactly. What IS wrong with the Christmas tradition? and sentimental feelings? As someone said earlier, it seems that the GB just wants to enforce an artificial difference, an "us/them" mentality.

    So Christmas isn't mentioned in the Bible: yeah, well, neither is Brooklyn, but they seem to own a little bit of land there. Are they being idolatrous?! I think Christmas is very valuable because it briefly, sort of, directs people to think about Jesus.

    Not grounded in Christianity?? The only holiday more central to Christianity than Christ's birth is Easter: Christ's atoning death and resurrection. But then they don't acknowledge the atonement of his death (the entire NT notwithstanding, e.g., Acts 4:12) or a literal resurrection (in spite of his deliberate actions to prove that he had been bodily resurrected: "Touch me! Look at this wound! .. Let's have some of that fish you just caught. Let's go for a walk to all the way to Emmaus.").

    I had a visit from a JW during Christmas of 2000. A very sincere and personable individual, I must say, but still bent on the "Christmas is pagan" thing. I pointed out that every single day of the week is named after a pagan object of worship (Saturn, Sun and Moon; Tiu, Woden, Thor and Freya (Norse gods)). But the GB has never forbidden JWs to use the names of these days, or supplied alternatives. I said this not to shame or antagonize him but to suggest that (a) the GB have absolutely no business exerting the control that they do, and (b) it isn't pagan if you don't INTEND it that way. I personally am not doing pagan worship when I decorate a tree with my wife and we give our kids presents.

    Right on Free. Be free, indeed! -- John 8:36.


    It broke my heart to imagine you alone and crying on Christmas Eve as a child. Since my little guys were born, the idea of a child's lonely suffering has become extremely painful to me. Not that they suffer in particular, just that being a parent will do that to you. You are totally right on when you learn from these experiences and deliberately give your children the opposite.

    I can imagine the Lord saying to all hurting ex-JWs: Come to me and I will give you rest ... I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten (Matthew 11:28; Joel 2:25). Aaaa-men.

  • MadApostate


    Santa's little helpers

    Jason Bergreen
    Dec 24 - By Jason Bergreen staff writer

    Santa Claus isn't the only person delivering gifts in Cache Valley this year. A team of agents from ERA Realty delivered thousands of dollars in food and gifts to six needy families Dec. 18.

    This is the seventh year the Logan-based real estate firm has assisted Mr. Claus.

    "We decided we would not have a party for Christmas," ERA Realty owner Kathleen Burnett said. "We would instead take money and we'd save it all year round. Then what we'd do is get a hold of the different people in town. We usually call the food bank and the people that deliver meals on wheels. We talk to different pastors and churches in the area and we get a list of about eight to 10 people. Some years there are more than others. We adopt these people for the Christmas holiday. We kind of get an idea of what they need and what some of their situations are."

    The gift boxes are stuffed full of hams, canned goods, fruits, cheese trays, gloves, blankets, lotions and other goods.

    "It's all brand new," Burnett said. "There's nothing used. If it's blankets, it's a brand new blanket. If it's slippers or robes, it's brand new. Groceries are naturally brand new."

    The gifts are delivered mostly to the elderly and needy families.
    "We have four committees," Burnett said. "The wrapping committee, the delivery committee, the committee to find the families and the shopping committee. They start working on this the first of November."

    The families chosen to receive gifts this year live in different parts of the valley, not just Logan. The families are from Preston, Providence, Paradise, Logan and Hyde Park.

    "We do it for people that need it," Burnett said. "If five need it then that's what we do. If 10 need it then that's what we do. Heaven help us if we have 20."

    Burnett told a funny story about one of last year's recipients.
    "Ann (Vanderkuyl, a secretary) delivered last year," Burnett said. "They walked up to this door with this huge box and it had Christmas wrapping all around it. And the little lady answered the door and she said, 'Oh dear,' she said, 'I'm Jehovah's Witness, we don't celebrate Christmas.' And Ann says, 'If I take all the wrapping paper off would you accept it?' She said, 'Yes.' So they stood there and took the wrapping paper off and gave her a bunch of goodies."

    The deliveries are a surprise for the recipients, Burnett said. Most people are shocked when the delivery committee shows up, some even cry.

    "We get thank you notes when they figure out who we are," Burnett said. "Those are nice, but we don't do it for the thank you cards. We just want to wish you a Merry Christmas."

  • MadApostate

    Bttt so folks will see that there is a second article posted above.

  • MadApostate



    No Noel: How holiday hoopla affects those who don't celebrate Christmas
    Thursday, December 20, 2001

    By Monica L. Haynes,
    Post-Gazette Staff Writer

    On Tuesday, millions of children will rise at dawn, run to the Christmas tree and rip open their brightly wrapped presents.

    Ten-year-old Kevyn Taylor of Castle Shannon won't be one of them. Kevyn is a Jehovah's Witness. While this religious sect believes in Jesus Christ, its followers do not celebrate Christmas.

    Jacqueline Wolfert hasn't been decking the halls at her home, either. She's Jewish. Nor will you find Saim Chaudhry, 15, of Monroeville, hanging any tinsel for the occasion. He's Muslim.
    With seemingly every department store, television program and radio station steeped in Christmas carols, roasted chestnuts and reruns of "Miracle on 34th Street," it's difficult to keep in mind that not everyone has visions of sugar plums, holiday dollar signs or mangers dancing in his head.

    In the five-county Pittsburgh region there are approximately 10,000 Muslims, said Kadir Gunduz, director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 8,725 Asian Indians in the region. Many are Hindu. There are roughly 40,000 Jews in the region, said Sharon Stern, manager of community planning and director of human resources development at the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh.
    Kevyn, a fourth-grade pupil at Myrtle Avenue Elementary in Castle Shannon, is quite confident when explaining his beliefs to schoolmates.

    "I usually just say I'm a different religion, and my religion teaches us not to celebrate Christmas," Kevyn said.

    He and his 14-year-old sister, Jamie, say they don't feel left out of all the traditional holiday activities at school.

    How Christmas got its start

    Christmas was instituted in 354 as the Feast of the Nativity by the bishop of Rome.

    While no one knows the exact date of Christ's birth, scholars agree it's not likely that he was born in December since the Bible states that shepherds were tending their sheep. It's more likely that he was born in September or October.
    Religious scholars believe Dec. 25 was chosen to make it easier to convert the Romans, who already celebrated a festival on this date. The festival was called Saturnalia and honored Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Babylonians also held the Feast of the Son of Isis, Goddess of Nature, on Dec. 25.
    Both festivals were marked by eating, drinking, merrymaking and giving gifts.
    -- By Monica L. Haynes
    "When they do something Christmas-related, we just come home," says Jamie, a freshman at Keystone Oaks High School.

    Most of her friends know about her religious beliefs so it's not a big deal anymore. "Nobody really asks me, [but] if they ask me if I want to come to a Christmas party or exchange gifts, I say, 'no.' They'll ask me why, and I'll explain I'm a Jehovah's Witness."

    So is Sonja Dawson, who also lives in Castle Shannon. Asked whether she missed Christmas when she was younger, the 14-year-old replied, "Not really, because I knew that I was serving my God the way I learned to and the way that would please him."

    There are a number of reasons Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas, said Suzanne Dawson, Sonja's mother.

    "It's really out of our respect for Christ that we don't celebrate it," Dawson said. "So many of the customs used to celebrate Christmas don't come from a Christian origin. We try to honor him really all year round by trying to do our best to imitate him, have Christ-like qualities and apply the principles he taught."

    There are those, however, who've been able to divide Christmas into two aspects -- religious and secular.

    That's why some Hindu families don't feel out of place participating in certain aspects of Christmas, said C.S. Parthasarathy, a Hindu who lives in Monroeville.
    "Our children do celebrate, if not in a religious way in a social way," he said. That includes exchanging gifts and getting together with family and friends since almost all are off from work and school. "In India we won't do it. Here we don't want to be left out."

    Even though he is Muslim, Shaheryar Hafeez said as a child he believed in Santa Claus "because everybody else did."

    The 19-year-old University of Pittsburgh student said he never felt like an outsider at Christmas because most of the time schools would promote the holiday season in general.

    "I think Christmas as a holiday has gotten more commercial," Hafeez said. "It's closer to a holiday and further away from a religious holiday."

    For that reason, Hafeez says he doesn't have a problem with his Catholic roommate putting up a Christmas tree in their room.

    Jacqueline Wolfert, 17, recalls helping her baby sitter decorate a Christmas tree when she was around 9 years old. Her parents never mentioned it at the time, but looking back on it, Jacqueline said, "I don't think they felt completely comfortable with that." However, they knew, she said, that Judaism was the religion she would stay with.

    The Shady Side Academy senior believes that attending a school with such a diverse population makes the students more open to learning about other religions and cultures. That doesn't mean you lose your own religion, she said.
    She has friends who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian, as well as Jewish. "Just to get to know and understand your friends, you have to understand their traditions, their background and where they come from," Jacqueline said.
    Even though Hanukkah is celebrated about the same time as Christmas and presents are given, it's not as big a holiday, she said.

    "Christmas Eve would roll around, and my friends couldn't come out and play," Jacqueline said, referring to her younger years.

    "Even though you had your own holiday, you wished you could take part. Even now, I feel that sometimes that would be a really cool thing, going to church and that stuff."

    Talk of holiday gift-giving and merriment remind Saim Chaudhry of Eid ul-Fitr, a Muslim holiday held at this time of the year. Eid celebrates the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer. During Eid, Muslims hold communal prayers followed by socializing, eating and giving gifts. Saim, a sophomore at Shady Side Academy, said all the talk about Christmas festivities has never bothered him. In fact, it just heightened his anticipation of Eid.

    "I knew I would get my time and have my presents at my day," he said.

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