Last year I celebrated Christmas for the third time in my life.
My boyfriend and I got each other presents, and our kitten and ferrets got some treats too. It was an amazing time, and even though our family is pretty small now, we make it work. It has been quite a few years since I left the Jehovah’s Witness cult, and yet I’ve still only celebrated Christmas three times. Why is that?
That is the most powerful tool they had. Mix some guilt with a dash of fear and you’ve got a huge following all over the world! Loyal servants if you will. I spent the entirety of my childhood years watching the joy be spread all around me during every holiday. Someone at school is giving out Birthday cupcakes? I got sent home. Teacher wanted me to color a turkey? I interrupted class and had them call my Dad. (This is the worst one) They wanted me to write a letter to the Veterans? I had to tell my teachers that war is wrong, so I won’t be writing anything to those men and women who risked their lives; because according to Jehovah, they risked their lives for a “stupid” reason. They didn’t “deserve” any support. (Check out the propaganda, here)
But why? Why do they make millions of innocent children do these things? Well, here is an insiders look into some of the reasons why I was convinced, at five years old, that I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t obey.
I was taught that “St. Valentine” was an evil opposer of Jehovah, and he was famous for killing people. All. The. Time. After scaring me with that, they would add the guilt: “You should show love to everyone, all the time, don’t be naive, you’re smarter than that aren’t you?” Well, I mean, how am I supposed to answer that? I’m five.
According to their website, JW.org, Valentine’s Day “… is rooted in pagan rituals and is therefore not celebrated by true Christians. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) Year-round expressions of genuine love are much more rewarding than the passing fancies of a sentimental holiday.” This quote came from an article titled “A New Name for an Old Orgy.”
I was taught that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only organization that celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection at the correct time. Everyone else was trying to “slander” God’s name, and “spread evil lies.” They told me that Easter has Pagan roots, which is true, but I was told that Pagan was pretty much a synonym for “deadly” and “bad.” I remember, once, I found a decorated egg in my attic and ran excitedly to show my Grandmother. She proceeded to yank it so hard out of my childhood hands that I was quaking in my socks. She walked all the way out to the garbage can and threw it away, and washed her hands. She warned me that not only was that egg a type of “Pagan Idol,” but also a huge risk of demonic possession.
Their website explains that all of the Bible’s, besides theirs of course, are translated wrong. That Easter is a poor translation of ancient Greek writings, and that it should actually be called “Passover,” which is the only holiday they actually celebrate (I attended many times). You may have recently received an invitation from them, “welcoming you to attend” The Memorial of Jesus’ death. This is their version of Easter, and they listen to a talk about Jesus’ sacrifice, pass around some bread and wine, pray, and leave.
When I was younger this seemed to be the easiest holiday to justify against in my head. I was taught about demons… and how they always come for people who disobey Jehovah, and then possess them… and kill them. So, when people would walk around in their costumes of monsters and such, I would hide along with my entire family. We would turn all of the lights off, lock the doors, and sometimes my family members would have defenses ready just in case someone came to the door. I was taught that Halloween was a celebration of Satan, and that all people who dressed up were demonic themselves. Encouraging Satanic behavior, bullying, killing, raping, and everything else terrible that you can think of. Because of this fear that was instilled in me so long ago, I still don’t eat candy during the month of October, and I have only dressed up for Halloween twice, and it was for a few hours at work.
They explain in their Awake! magazine of September 2013 that the, again, Pagan origins of the Halloween holiday, also known to the ancient Celts as “Samhain,” are more than enough reason to never celebrate again.
I have always loved Christmas. I loved the lights, how perfect presents looked wrapped under the tree, the snow, all of it. Before I left the cult, I only had one Christmas that my mother had for me and my sister. In our living room, no lights except that of the TV, no pictures, no wrapping paper, just a pile of gifts. I looked at mine quickly, with a vile concoction of guilt filling every crevice of my mind. What is Jehovah thinking as I do this? Am I allowed to do this? I definitely wasn’t, but my mom kept it a secret, and I guess I tried as hard as I could to forget. Coming back to my father’s house was terrifying to say the least, I was so scared he would find out. So the next year when my mother tried to do it again, I refused, out of absolute fear. They taught me that the, again, “evil Christians” were spreading false rumors that Jesus was born on Christmas. They told me that he was obviously born sometime during April or May, though I don’t remember how they justified this. They also explained that many murders were carried out in the past on Christmas day, so we weren’t going to support such a holiday.
This holiday partially ropes in why the Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t celebrate Birthdays. Christmas is said to be Jesus’ birthday, and they explain an article titled “Is Christmas for Christians?” that, “The Scriptures refer to only two individuals who celebrated their birthday. Neither of them was a worshipper of Jehovah … (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21)” So, Christmas again is viewed as an evil celebration by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, casting lies out into the world.
So why really do Jehovah’s Witnesses not celebrate holidays? In my experience, it’s because they tell you not to. I know for a fact, that many children are out there isolating themselves from their classmates, friends, and even family members, because they are scared into doing so. They cast a very wide net over all celebrations. Especially those of which may bring any genuine joy into your life, and they phrase it very eloquently:
Holidays that exalt humans or human organizations are not acceptable to Jehovah.Jeremiah 17:5-7; Acts 10:25, 26 , New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures