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What are your favorite non-religious Christmas traditions?


For Christians, Christmas has an unequivocal religious meaning behind the celebration and its numerous traditions. For the secular, Christmas holds a different meaning that is not necessarily related to any type of religious belief but is, nonetheless, a special season filled with the spirit of love and generosity. Just as there are Christmas traditions that are undoubtedly based in religion, there are just as many traditions that are not religious in nature but are just as meaningful in their own way. Let’s explore some non-religious Christmas traditions.

Family gatherings

One tradition high on most people’s list is spending time with loved ones. It is common to have large family gatherings on or during the Christmas season as most people have time off and it’s a way to show our love and gratitude for the special people in our lives. These gatherings often include elaborate meals, singing secular Christmas carols, and perhaps playing games. Close friends are also often included in these gatherings.

MORE: What is the history of Christmas from a non-religious perspective?


There is no shortage of secular Christmas decorations to be had in the stores at Christmastime. From lights for your house to reindeer for your yard and giant Santas on your porch, your home can be festive and beautiful and give joy to you as well as those who happen by.


The most popular and common tradition at Christmas is the giving of gifts, and it can be completely non-religious in nature. There does not have to be a Christian-related purpose behind the act. It is done simply to show love for those in our lives we care about. Some families even have nontraditional gift exchanges such as silly gifts or white elephant gifts.

Singing Christmas carols

Many Christmas carols have no religious message in them whatsoever. Can you say, “Jingle Bells” or “Frosty the Snowman”? The singing of Christmas carols does not have to be a religious tradition. Plenty of non-religious celebrants sing carols in their homes, at schools, Christmas parties, and in neighborhoods. For the lucky ones who have a family member who plays a musical instrument, you can have a good old-fashioned singalong. Again, it’s just a festive way to celebrate with friends and family.

MORE: What is the history of Christmas that has been shared for centuries through generations of Christians?

Read holiday books

There are so many wonderful non-religious Christmas books to choose from to share with family. Some do not even mention Christmas but share a message of giving, hope, and love. Many families sit around the tree or fireplace and share their favorite stories each year. If you’re short on books, head to your local library where you’ll find more than enough to fill your holiday season. There are many books that can lead to a kids art project or can be followed with the movie version. Whether you read one book on Christmas Eve or one a night the whole month of December leading up to Christmas, this is a great way to spend time with your loved ones while reflecting on the spirit of the season.

Holiday baking

Next to gifting, baking holiday goodies has to be a popular, favorite holiday tradition. Experimenting with new cookie, cake, and candy recipes and having your home smell like a bakery is pretty awesome. There are plenty of traditions to be had even within the baking process. You can bake old favorites from your childhood while adding new recipes to your repertoire, buy matching aprons for each baker, and give your scrumptious treats to friends and neighbors as gifts. Don’t forget to save some for yourself!

Charitable donations and volunteering

Many families have a tradition of donating time and money during the holidays. If you chose a non-religious charity to give your time and money to, then it simply becomes a way of giving to others who are less fortunate and helping to make someone’s life a bit brighter, even if only momentarily. It is also a way to teach the younger members of your family how valuable and rewarding it can be to think of others’ needs before your own. The spirit of charity fits perfectly within the spirit of Christmas.


With Christmas occurring at the end of the year, this is the perfect time to reflect on the highlights of the past year, choose favorite moments and memories, and build a family scrapbook or album to share now and in the future. Each family member could contribute their favorites and then share the finished product and the love that it creates.

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