Mennonite Holidays: What’s A Mennonite Christmas like?

I was asked recently by a reader: How do Mennonites celebrate Christmas? Seeing as it is now the month of, it is a fitting time to answer the aforementioned question.

The general “layout” is very similar to a traditional Christmas most people grew up with, it’s the details that are different.

Mennonite Holidays: Whats A Mennonite Christmas like?

Exhibit A — The type of washing up bowl in
which you often see babies being bathed in.

The first and most obvious difference is the Christmas tree. Trees are not only impractical and time consuming but excessively decorative and therefore unnecessary* (mainly though we’ve just never heard of them). Instead, every Christmas Eve just before the children go to sleep they will each grab what can only be described as a washing up bowl (exhibit A) and set it up at their respective spot at the dinner table. After the children are in bed, the parents will proceed to put the presents inside the bowls to be discovered by the children in the morning. No wrapping though. Again, it’s fancy and a time waster. Spending your precious minutes wrapping only to have it ripped open in a split second. Come on!

The actual gifts tend to lean towards the practical side. A Mennonite boy shouldn’t be shocked to see hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and other tools in his bowl. The girls will usually receive household items. Why? When the child inevitably gets married they will be stocked up on the necessities and ready to go.

Mennonite Holidays: Whats A Mennonite Christmas like?


Christmas is however one of the few times in a year that a Mennonite child will receive some form of sugary treat. Whether it be chocolate or candies, they will be savored and salivated over with the best intentions of making them last a long time. It rarely happens but the idea is that since you will not be receiving more sweet goodness for a while, you want to make it last.

I personally recall it being the one time a year besides Easter where we would gifted with a bottle of coke. HHMMM, coke.

The rest of Christmas then proceeds like usual: Church, visiting the extended family and taking a day or two off of work on the farm.

Merry Christmas everyone.

(* Mennonites have some fancy things in their lives such as China Set Displays. I will discuss these in detail in a future blog)

Ready to leave a nasty comment? Gunning to correct me? Do me one solid and read my disclaimer first.

10 Responses to Mennonite Holidays: What’s A Mennonite Christmas like?

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  2. This is not true according to the way I was raised in a Mennonite Christian home. Nothing like it at all. We always had a Christmas tree and had many gifts and we gave each other gifts. We knew that the Christmas tree and the gifts were a symbol of the true gift that God gave us, His Only Begotten Son, to die and rise again to be able to save us from our sins, IF we believe. Learning to trust in Yeshua, Jesus, is what our parents tried to instill in us. God has given us a free will to choose and our parents tried to lead us in the right direction. I feel sorry for the person writing this website as I wonder if he really got the whole idea. Maybe where he was brought up it was very restricted. Anyway, God’s Word takes pre-emminence in a true Christian’s life. True Mennonites try to love and cherish God’s Word because that is why they left the RCC in the first place. They were not given the whole Word of God. It is the conscience of a believer to live as he is led to live, with or without a Christmas tree. I’m surprised more people have a Christmas tree as there is a pagan influence with it and also in Jeremiah where it talks about a tree being nailed to the wall with ornaments on it being pagan, as well. We were not taught that at all. It is most important not to make a god of anything in this world above our God in Heaven but it is easy to do in this world. Again, our conscience before God is the thing that should drive anyone. It is the individual’s business between God and him and I hope and pray that more people would allow the Holy Spirit to direct their lives in this and many other things. We don’t seem to think deeply in this world, anymore. <3

    • AR – it depends on where you were raised. I was raised with Christmas as you describe it, but my parents were raised with Christmas as the blog describes it. They were Mexican Mennonites, while I was born and raised in Canada. My parents had a bowl, in which they received an orange, a handful of peanuts, and a bottle of Coke. My mother would sometimes get enough fabric to make a dress. If times were tough, she would receive enough fabric to make a doll. Mennonites are different, depending on where you’re from and how assimilated into society you are (my parents assimilated into ‘normal’ North American society when they moved to Canada, hence a ‘normal’ Christmas for me).

    • I understand that there are many ways the Amish and Mennonite Communities live. Some groups are very conservative, some more lenient ( in the Amish Communities)…The Mennonites tend to be even more lenient (but they too have their more conservative groups). The main difference, as I understand it, is that the Mennonites are more worldly…they use electricity, drive cars and have home telephones. The Amish do not.
      Although I understand that some Amish now drive cars, but they have to be black cars and they have to paint the bumpers black…no showy cars here.
      But I admire these two groups. They are hard working folks and have the tidiest farmland I have every seen !


  4. I don’t think there are Mennonite’s in my family but for some strange reason i am very interested in the Mennonite’s and Amish lifestyle, i don’t know if it’s because i am German……i really like your website, thank you

  5. do Mennonites receive Christmas cards?

  6. My mother’s entire family are Mennonite and Brethern in Christ. Not sure where that wash pan thing came from, but I have never in my life heard of that. There were gives, not etravagant, but lovely and meaningful.
    Meals were/are awesome they invite everybody and their brother “English” or not. Very loving and generous people

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