season’s greetings

That was not, incidentally, the blog’s Christmas message, that last post.

That is because Scottish Presbyterians (my breed of) don’t do Christmas.

No, we have no truck with it, none whatsoever, and no compromise, no, not so much as a mince pie.*

So you can take your consumerism and bacchanalia and non-Regulative-Principle-compliant religiosity elsewhere; for festival days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.

Not by way of turkey or goose, of nativity play or advent calendar, of tinselled tree or Santa Claus, of present, pudding, or office party, for you cannot serve God and Mammon, and you ought not to innovate in worship even in ways received by tradition from others, whether under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever.**

Said post would have been better published back in November, when the thought of it first wafted into my head – but it does conveniently reinforce the point that this anti-Christmas feeling is in no way the offspring of any disrespect for the fact and the doctrine of the incarnation.

Just as the anti-Easter thing is perfectly consistent with thorough-going commitment to the fact and the doctrine of the resurrection.

Revelation 22:12.

* Although if you were to call it seasonal baking, and really, really insist, one might be tempted.
** I may just have to re-title myself as The Westminster Larger Catechism abridged and paraphrased.

25 thoughts on “season’s greetings

  1. since when did the regulative principle dictate what traditions I follow outside of church?

    We don’t have a ‘christmas day service’ at church, which I’m comfortable with. But I’m also very comfortable with enjoying the traditions of the season. I see a divide between the two.


  2. I don’t like it as glorifying remembrance of Christ’s birth to a festive occasion has no warrant. I do also wonder if it is used to draw undue attention to Mary too.

    It is beyond me how so many people can comfortably say ‘Merry Christmas’, when the idea of the Mass of Christ is so abhorrent.
    People don’t think anything of using Christ’s name thoughtlessly. That what they mean is something totally different, is no excuse. Find another phrase to throw around as a greeting for a few weeks!


  3. On my side of the pond, the one thing that has seemingly completely disappeared, is mince pie. I haven’t seen one in years!

    And, Jonathan is right. The regulative principle only applies to worship services. I also have no problem with all those wonderful Christmas traditions – outside of church.


  4. Ehm, the missing third footnote reads: “… And no offence, like, to brethren and sistern of a different persuasion!”

    Depends on what these non-church traditions are, really. Many’s a Christmas-dodging family who might meet for a non-Christmassy New Year’s dinner and exchange of gifts, just say – but whatever divide there might be in theory around the 25th, isn’t there a difficulty making that divide evident in practice?

    Quite apart from allegedly dubious origins of many of these traditions, unless i’m thinking of the wrong ones …

    Meanwhile here reigns Grinch-like humbug-avoidance :-)

    (Slow reply due to being occupied away from computer most of the day, apologies!)


  5. Ah, the world would be a culturally poorer place without stick-in-the-mud Presbyterianism! However, I do recall that Anne of Green Gables, who could rattle off the beginning of the shorter Westminster Catechism (and did when pressed) received a lovely dress with puffed sleeves for Christmas.

    However, she was from P.E.I. not Scotland. And possibly not a Wee Free.


  6. Ach, stick in the mud Sabbatarians. We would that people were not working one day a week every week, and when it comes to the festive week when most people want not to work, we would that they were working!

    Actually the 25th was not very well observed in Scotland for a long time. It wasn’t until about the 1970’s that most employers started letting people have the day off.


  7. I don’t remember her Catechism recital either come to think of it. The PEI gossip networks always reminded me deliciously of another small island community I was familiar with but was Marilla even presbyterian?

    jbell – yes and i would have maybe only dated a general awareness/observance to a decade earlier. Strange.


  8. Wikipedia: “Christmas in Scotland was traditionally observed very quietly, because the Church of Scotland – a Presbyterian Church – never placed any great emphasis on the Christmas festival, for various reasons…” (ElectricScotland: …because they were amazingly dour and joy-crushing.)

    Wikipedia: “Hogmanay is traditionally the largest celebration in Scotland, because Christmas Day was a normal working day in Scotland until the 1960s and even into the 1970s in some areas. The gift-giving, public holidays and feasting associated with mid-winter were held between the 31 December and 2 January rather than between 24 December and 26 December. However, since the 1980s, and the fading of the Church’s influence as well as influences from outside Scotland due to immigration and the media, Christmas and related festivities are now on a par with Hogmanay and “Ne’erday”” (Whate’er that might be.)


    • Ne’erday = New Year’s Day (Jan 1st), i.e. the day after Hogmanay. How ironic that you need a German to explain that to you … ;-)


      • Like, wote’er. I’ve never heard of that in my life. And I don’t speak/read Scots #(

        In an EngLang tutorial in first year, the tutor, who was English, expected me, being the token Scot, to say “doon the watter” for the edification of the rest of the tutorial group, being mainly English. I had no clue what he was talking about.

        My function thereafter in that class was simply to produce the word “goat” with a monophthong, and Sam and Psalm homophonously, to the amazement of the RP speakers (who didn’t, they thought, actually have an accent).


  9. Anne and Marilla Presbyterian they might have been but certainly not Presbyterian as we know or believe it to be which is quite obvious in the books. Maybe the 25th wasn’t as hugely celebrated as it is nowadays? Hmm…I feel an itching to research that time period now! :)


  10. When was AoGG in relation to Laura Ingalls Wilder then? I remember that hair-raising episode where Pa made it home through the snow drifts by the skin of his teeth just in time to make The Pagan Festival so special for them. (Ah, the nostalgia of other people’s Christmasses past.)

    Problem is, either it perpetuates the myth that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, or it capitulates to the culture of over-eating, over-drinking, over spending – generally overdoing it…


  11. Wikipedia should of course say “Christmas in Scotland since the Deformation has been traditionally celebrated very quietly …”

    historical amnesia. it’s everywhere.


  12. Laziness makes me ask here, and not google – what’s your Warrant for moving your Sabbath holy day observance to the first day of the week, instead of resting on the 7th?

    (zero rush, whenever, if ever, you have a moment and the inclination to answer.)


  13. Sorry: hadn’t intended taking advantage of the liberty allowed in your last para!

    Warrant is scriptural, drawn from, eg, the special place of the first day in the early days after the resurrection (the resurrection on the 1st day, the appearances of Christ to the disciples on the 1st day, the blessing of pentecost on the 1st day, the gathering of the church for worship, fellowship, tithing on the 1st day), the theological argument from Christ entering his rest from the work of redemption on the first day, and the prophesies in the OT about the blessedness of the 8th day.


  14. What do you imagine WCF 21.5 “thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner” means?

    It is beyond me how so many people can comfortably say ‘Merry Christmas’, when the idea of the Mass of Christ is so abhorrent.

    I never thought to connect “Christmas” with the abomination of the mass; it’s about baby Jesus, not sacrified Jesus, so doesn’t the term refer to when Christ “en-massed” himself; when the Word took on flesh (incarnated = en-fleshed)


  15. Cue pointed head-scratching as we all wonder what special event happened in December for everyone to be thankful for …

    Directory of Public(k) Worship: Concerning the Observation of Days of Public Thanksgiving: “Let him [the minister] then make some pithy narration of the deliverance obtained, or mercy received, or of whatever hath occasioned the assembling of the congregation, that all may better understand it, or be minded of it, and more affected with it.”

    => seems to be occasional providential mercies, not times in the church calendar. For “festival days, vulgarly called holy days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.”


  16. Pingback: Is Saint Andrew’s Day controversial? | Friendly Humanist

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