A reader just wrote in enquiring on this topic. He had been googling the question, and had been led particularly to Romans 14:5-6. For what it’s worth, our reply was as below:
It’s very clear that both Christmas and Easter are originally pagan festivals and that they have no basis at all in Scripture. The Santa Claus people love derives from an American political cartoonist and advertising by Coca-Cola. And it’s very clear that Christmas today is overwhelmingly a materialistic celebration. Nothing here for a Christian to get excited about; rather the reverse. So, in essence, we don’t celebrate it. But . . . . .
It’s also a time when families get together, which is good. It’s a time when people mostly relax, and are perhaps warmer towards others than at other times. And if the whole world around you is full of people involved in it, it’s difficult to not be involved. Also, if one takes a stern attitude of non-involvement, one looks like a killjoy, and it’s not a great witness for Christ. So we “go with the flow” without making a big thing of it. We don’t do a tree (another pagan symbol!) or decorations. It happens we are away from home this year. We go to public Christmas events as we would to any other pleasant public event. We’ve left a present for our elderly, housebound, next-door neighbour at home since he will be having a dull day. (And obviously, given openings to share the Gospel we do so; we don’t push it, since our experience indicates that doesn’t help.)
If we were in India at Diwali we would be flowing along with that as well. It doesn’t mean we have any regard for Hindu gods. It’s just being a part of the culture and getting along with others. In short, all quite pragmatic.
I think what Paul is saying basically is that we are not to judge others for their variation in the details of what they believe and what they practise. Elsewhere, he talks of being “all things to all men” in order that he might save some. What really matters is the Gospel, and that after receiving it we move on to work out our Salvation. Which is exactly what you are doing right now!
So, I think one should hold fast to the fundamentals of our Faith, and hold the rest rather gently. Remember that God is a Loving Father, not a slave-driver with a whip. He loves to watch his children grow, just as any earthly father loves to watch his toddler improve his walking skills, including when the wee one falls on his backside!
I should add that we don’t have young children, so don’t have to face the additional issues which that would raise.
Dare I say, in the light of all the above, have a Happy Christmas?