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Any Jehovah's Witnesses out there?

(30 Posts)
LadyCad Sat 20-Nov-10 14:18:08

DD has a friend who is a JW, and I've been thinking about her a lot.

Christmas is just so huge nowadays, it's everywhere from mid-October onwards.What's it really like growing up in a JW family and not participating in any of that stuff. The local school that DD and her friend attend is a church school (christian) so we have carol concerts and....oh I dunno, all the usual stuff.It's endless and everywhere. She has Hindu and Muslim friends who celebrate Christmas to an extent, in some way or another.

I'm not entirely sure what I think about the whole Christmas thing myself, tbh. We're not Christian but I do love the lights and the singing and oh!how I do love the food.

But what is it like not doing Christmas at all, when you're a child?

Oh, I am emphatically not a journalist, as any who recognise me will know. grin

And wouldn't it be splendid if this didn't end up as just another JW-bashing thread?

cashmygold Sat 20-Nov-10 17:57:14

My mum became a witness when I was 14. However her religious beliefs never impactd on the rest of the family. She still cooked the traditional dinner and still does to this day.

If anything I'm the one now who couldnt give 2 hoots about the festivities and the expense it brngs not to mention the stress. I hate hearing people moan about it etc.

Theres this big misconception that JW kids are missing out. They have grown up with out celebrating it so they're not really missing what they've never had. Its not that they dont believe in Jesus and his birth but it is not scripted in the bible that his bitrh should be celebrated, hence why birthdays arent celebrated either. They only remember his death - which is the memorial (Easter- to the masses)

There are only 2 Birthdays mentioned in the bible and they were not pleasant occassions!!!

LadyCad Sat 20-Nov-10 23:19:48

You see this is what I'm wondering about. Yes, they've grown up without celebrating it, but how does it feel to not join in all the stuff at school and elsewhere when all of the other children are so excited about it?

I'm not saying I feel pity necessarily, that would be too obvious a reaction. I'm very interested though.

whizzipop89 Tue 23-Nov-10 13:02:30

I'm a JW with 2 kids at school (year 1 and year 3). The school has been brilliant about letting them change their activities to turn Xmas things like making Xmas cards etc into Winter activities like snowflake cards... Sometimes the Xmas play is very Christmassy and then the kids skip it or help out in someone else's and other times it's not a nativity or Xmas-related, so I'm happy for them to be involved.

The teachers are really lovely at trying to make sure my children don't feel left out - they do a wonderful job. As far as at home goes, we try to make winter an exciting time - we enjoy the sparkly lights in town and cosy log-fire weather as much as anyone else. We're part of a large family of JWs, so as soon as the holidays start, we go on a big road trip down to my parents, meet up with uncles, aunts and cousins and spend days sitting in front of log fires, roasting marshmallows, watching films and eating lots! We enjoy the time off just as much as everyone else!!

As it's a family get together time, the children always get presents at some stage over the holidays, and they know they will - so although they don't have that big anticipation of Christmas morning, they know they'll get presents and be able to talk about them to their friends when they get back to school. To be honest, we all have a spending frenzy in the January sales!!

I'm very aware that it's such a big thing, and really don't want them to miss out. After all - we have nothing against giving and receiving presents - so I make sure they have plenty of surprise gifts during the time we're away, taking them into toy shops and letting them choose their presents, and giving them fun, happy times, love and lots of reassurance. It's also important for me to accept that they ARE going to have times when they feel a bit left out - and talk about that as a family, accept their feelings and talk about the presents and fun times we are going to have as a family, but that don't involve Christmas celebrations. My children have never celebrated Christmas - neither have I - so I guess we sort of create our own family traditions and things we enjoy over the holiday period.

I hope that gives you a bit of a better idea. I'm aware lots of people have very different opinions on the matter - and they're entitled to their feelings! Christmas is tied up with a lot of nostalgic emotions for people, and I completely understand that.

LadyCad Wed 24-Nov-10 20:56:48

Thankyou whizzipop.

Do you remember ever feeling left out of it all when you were a child?

Are your children allowed to attend other children's birthday parties? Interested to know how you get round that one. DD's friend doesn't accept invitations but is allowed to come around to a tea party anytime. I must admit we haven't done a "non-specific" tea party though.

Sorry if you feel interrogated. I don't know the family well at all and don't feel I can stand in the playground and be so blatantly nosey grin

susiedaisy Fri 26-Nov-10 19:31:33

i have a friend who works in a school and there are a few JW children whos parents do not want them to join in on the xmas play so they have to sit in the other room whilst the other kids are practicing their songs, the slightly funny bit is the JW children are singing along with the songs but from the other room, whilst doing non xmas activities! not meant to offend anyone here just thought it was quite funny.

whizzipop89 Sat 27-Nov-10 13:32:36

No, I don't feel interrogated at all - and I'm sure the other family wouldn't mind if you chatted to them about it!

Mind you, I can only talk from my own experience, and other Witnesses might have brought up their children differently, or make different decisions. While we don't celebrate Christmas or birthdays, some of the greyer areas - xmas plays that aren't too Christmassy etc - are really up to each individual family to make their own mind up about. There are no 'rules' governing each little detail, so you might find other Witnesses doing things a bit differently.

Anyway - birthdays. No I didn't feel left out, but my parents picked a couple of dates through the year that were 'present days' for the family and we looked forward to those. I also remember lots of surprise big presents too, which I told my friends about and said I didn't have to wait for my birthday or Christmas, I could get them straight away!

My children don't go to their class friends birthday parties, no. I try and explain to the mums each time that it's nothing personal and just what we do, and that I hope they're not offended. I try to make sure I organise a tea party for my children that they can invite their friends to, and plan lots of afterschool playtimes and meet ups, but yes there are always birthday parties so they probably do feel a bit left out of that sometimes. Again, it's about trying to make sure they have fun weekends with their friends as well - and do party-type things - baking cakes, balloons and games just as a spontaneous thing.

Susiedaisy - yes I can quite imagine that! It's impossible to avoid the Christmas songs - I must admit I'm probably absent-mindedly humming Rudolph by the end of the festive season, let alone the children! I'm always impressed by how lovely the schools are though, trying to find non-Christmas activities for our children to do. Very kind - bearing in mind resources are stretched and teachers these days have an awful lot to deal with.

MaryBS Sat 27-Nov-10 16:03:39

Can I ask a question too please? Can I ask what the position is regarding women in ministry and leadership positions?

waveknight Sat 27-Nov-10 16:54:10

I have a good friend who is a JW. Her dh had an affair but saw the error of his ways and has been allowed back into the fold.

They also view homosexuality in the same vain, that it can be cured. hmm

stressedHEmum Sat 27-Nov-10 23:14:46

Mary, no women in leadership positions. Women take full part in door-to-door work but can't lead if a qualified man is present. My friend took a lot of bible studies, when her husband went with her, she had to wear a hat (recognising his headship) and let him take the lead. When I was involved, women were discouraged from further/higher education as well, instead the were encouraged to devote themselves to the preaching work as being much more valuable than worldly education.

Women must also be submissive to their husbands as the God ordained head of the house, a la St. Paul.

MaryBS Mon 29-Nov-10 18:55:26

Thanks. There's a lady who comes round regularly and calls in on me, so I did wonder.

lisad123isasnuttyasaboxoffrogs Tue 30-Nov-10 22:13:39

I was brought up as a JW, left at 16 and went back at 21years old.
I never felt like i was missing out, tbh i like the fact i didnt have to wait till christmas for a bike i cant ride till summer grin
i love the lights, the smell of roasting nuts and sometimes find myself humming along to songs blush

My eldest is in school atm and it is hard for her. We take her out during days were she will be out of class all day and we always go away the last week before christmas with a huge group of JW and have a great time.

iwouldgoouttonight Tue 07-Dec-10 10:46:14

My DS (age 4) is best friends at school with a boy who is a JW. DS really wants to give him a christmas card - he understands that his friend doesn't celebrate christmas because he hasn't taken part in any of the christmas things at school, but he says he'll feel sad if his friend doesn't get a card.

Would a JW be offended if they received a christmas card? Would it be ok to make a non-christmas card sending best winter wishes or something?

whizzipop89 Wed 08-Dec-10 14:00:10

Your little boy sounds lovely iwouldgoouttonight, and as a JW mum, my kids and I would be very touched to receive a 'best winter wishes' card like you describe - from someone who'd gone to so much trouble to include us, and had chosen something non-christmassy and wintry so as not to offend us. How lovely - and very kind & generous.

On a personal note, I'm never offended by receiving Christmas cards addressed to me or the children's friends at school, they're part of the Christmas tradition for most people - I understand that, and always sent with kind motives. I used to know one JW who designated a week in January where she'd write (non-Christmas) cards to all her friends, just to say hi and thanks for being a good friend. I've always thought that was rather nice... although never been organised enough to do that!

lisad123isasnuttyasaboxoffrogs Wed 08-Dec-10 14:35:04

i think its a lovely idea and im sure they would be very happy to recieve something so thoughtful. DH family still send us card and pressies, we exsept them in the spirt and love of which they are given they also understand we cant do the same in return but will send something later in the year

iwouldgoouttonight Thu 09-Dec-10 14:25:30

Thank you - I think we'll make him a non-Christmassy card then. smile

GrimmaTheNome Thu 09-Dec-10 14:53:30

>Its not that they dont believe in Jesus and his birth but it is not scripted in the bible that his bitrh should be celebrated, hence why birthdays arent celebrated either

But surely JWs do all sorts of things that aren't 'scripted in the bible'. I can understand not doing Christmas as a religious festival but its not obvious why a child shouldn't participate in the secular aspects, the same as children of other faiths and none do.

I'm not meaning to 'bash', it just puzzles me why if something isn't expressly prohibited it should be an issue.

Mumcentreplus Thu 09-Dec-10 15:55:33

There is also an element of the fact that many of the original celebrations during winter were not in fact linked to Jesus' birth but to other deities and traditions of pre-christian pagan religions or beliefs ...

LadyInaManger Thu 09-Dec-10 16:15:20

I worked for a JW and i so wish she could have been like you whizzipop and lisad123 as she was so dismisive of my religion (Christian) and bashed on about her true religion "The Truth" as she called it. Of course she thought her way was the truth but i think my way is the truth the same as accept that Muslins believe in thier God/Deity and hated her constant put downs. Alot of her friends had present days too but is that not the same as receiving presents on a birthday or such like? If it is a present day (the same each year) then it seems pointless to bang on about not celebrating as you are doing exactly that imo.

My ex boss was very disgusted to receive Happy New year cards but from what whizzipop says that seems a lovely compromise and she should have accepted them in the manner they were given (by an elderly aunt who wanted her niece to know she was being thought of).

I have always been tolerant of every faith but since working for her she has put me off JW's and when they come knocking i don't even enter into conversation like i may have done before but politely say no thankyou and close the door.

No slam against the posters who are JW here today as you have proved how tolerant some JW can be and thankyou for that as my tolerance for JW's may become restored again and that i had just had one very bad experience!

lisad123isasnuttyasaboxoffrogs Fri 10-Dec-10 10:46:02

the reason JW dont join in at xmas is because alot of the parts of xmas are from pagan religion, so things like the bringing in of the tree, the yule log, the giving of gifts, and even the date its celebrated on.

"But surely JWs do all sorts of things that aren't 'scripted in the bible'" well no they dont. All the rules that we live out life by are set by the bible. we believe its still relevent today as its inspired by god, so therefore is the right way.

and LadyInaManger Im sorry you found someone who was a JW so unkind and dismissive of your belief, thats not kind at all. The thing to remember is she may be a JW but doesnt mean every JW is that way, personality still plays a part.

whizzipop89 Fri 10-Dec-10 13:29:07

Sorry you had such a bad experience with a JW ladyinamanger. I can only repeat what lisa said, and add that it's not behaviour that's encouraged or advocated at any JW meeting I've been to! But like any religion, we get a few 'characters' from time to time... and I'm sorry that her unkind behaviour has put you off JWs.

As for present days - I can see why you'd feel that way. The thing is though that we have nothing against giving presents, celebrating or having a party. It's just that we don't do those things at birthdays or Christmas because of the origins of these celebrations. So the rest of the year, I love finding excuses to have a party! In our family and most of the JW families I know, we have family or group present days where everyone receives presents. I don't tend to set specific dates, it's normally when the sales are on on a day the children decide!! wink

LadyInaManger Fri 10-Dec-10 14:33:56

Thanks Whizzipop and lisad123, it's true what you say about personality and we are after all human, Christian/JW or not so even Christians/JW have snipy moments etc but she took it to a whole new level. Think she must have been quite a sad lonely person.

Could you explain why JW's don't celebrate birthdays? I can understand not Christmas because of pagan connotations etc but a birthday is the day you were born so you can never escape that and it's not pagan 'to be born' so why no celebration? You celebrate Wedding Anniversarys which is a day you get married so what is the difference? This is a genuine question - i am not being rude here (hard to tell in a written post i know) but really would love to know!

Thanks in advance smile

GrimmaTheNome Fri 10-Dec-10 14:43:47

>"But surely JWs do all sorts of things that aren't 'scripted in the bible'" well no they dont. All the rules that we live out life by are set by the bible

I can understand the internal logic of following a rule that's explicitly stated in the bible. But there are surely many things in modern life which are not 'scripted'. Celebrating birthdays appears (to an outsider) to be such a case - the bible is silent on the subject.

Mistymoo Fri 10-Dec-10 15:04:01

There are 2 birthdays mentioned in the Bible. Both were celebrations by people who did not worship God. At both these parties there was a murder.

Birthday celebrations are rooted in paganism.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 10-Dec-10 15:12:02

Oh, I see. I've found a link here which explains the occasions you mean - though it doesn't agree with the JW interpretation.

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