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.
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.
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)