Throughout the years, the First Presidency, Apostles, members of the Seventy, and other leaders have shared some of their favorite Christmas traditions. We’ve gathered some of the most beloved examples to help get you into the Christmas spirit.
“For almost as long as I can remember, I have had a particular tradition at Christmastime. My family knows that just before Christmas I will read again my Christmas treasury of books and ponder the wondrous words of the authors. First will be the Gospel of Luke—even the Christmas story. This will be followed by a reading of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens and, lastly, rereading The Mansion, by Henry Van Dyke.
I always must wipe my eyes when reading these inspired writings. They touch my inner soul and bring to me the Spirit of our Savior.”
-President Thomas S. Monson, Because He Came
“There was a song I heard first when I was a little boy—a song about Christmas and home. Those were days of war when many people were away from their homes and family—a dark time for those who feared that they might not be reunited with loved ones in this life. I remember my feelings for home and family when I walked by one house on the way to school at Christmastime and saw a little flag with a gold star on it hung in the window. It was the home of a girl I knew in school. Her brother, not much older than I, had been killed in the war. I knew his parents and felt some of what they did. On the way home after school, I would feel grateful anticipation for the glad welcome I knew awaited me.
When I turned on the radio in our living room during the Christmas season, I would hear words and music that still echo in my mind. A few lines of that song touched my heart with a yearning to be with family. I was living with my parents and my brothers in a happy home, so I knew somehow that the yearning I felt was for more than to be in a house or in the family life I then enjoyed. It was about some future place and life, even better than I knew or had yet imagined.
The line of the song that I remember best is “I’ll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams.” The house in which I decorated Christmas trees with my mother and father in those happy days of my childhood still stands, largely unchanged. A few years ago I went back and knocked on the door. Strangers answered. They allowed me to step into the rooms where the radio had been and where our family had gathered around the Christmas tree.
I realized then that the desire of my heart was not about being in a house. It was about being with my family, and it was a desire to feel enveloped in the love and the Light of Christ, even more than our little family had felt in the home of my childhood.”
-President Henry B. Eyring, Home for Christmas
“As an old family tradition, our family has always celebrated the Advent of Christmas. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we would get together on Sunday afternoons, light wax candles on a pine Advent wreath, enjoy delicious homemade cookies, and read passages of scriptures that center on the Christ.
We read accounts of ancient prophets who yearned for the coming of the Messiah. We read scriptures that proclaim the wondrous story of His birth. Each week by singing beautiful Christmas songs and having a fun time together, our family tried to refocus on the true meaning of the season. I must admit that delicious hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and tasty homemade cookies helped a lot to catch the joyful feeling of the Christmas season!”
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Seeing Christmas through New Eyes
“One of my fondest memories as a small boy was the annual visit to our home on Butler Avenue in Salt Lake City of my Grandfather and Grandmother Ballard on Christmas morning. Melvin J. Ballard died when I was ten years old. I knew that my Grandfather Ballard was a very important man in the Church, but I did not understand what it meant to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. To me he was Grandpa Ballard, and that was enough to make me always very eager for his visit to our home, and especially on Christmas morning.
I particularly remember one Christmas morning, just a year or two before Grandfather Ballard died. My father and mother gave to Grandfather and Grandmother a new set of luggage. This seemed so appropriate to me then, because it seemed like Grandfather was always traveling.
Reflecting back on those special Christmas mornings with Grandfather and Grandmother Ballard brings special fond memories since today I find myself as a member of the Council of the Twelve and I have a new and deeper appreciation for those special Christmas mornings with my grandparents. I hope now as my grandchildren come to visit me and I go to visit them, I can create memories for them that will live on long after I am gone.”
-Elder M. Russell Ballard, Christmas Remembered
“Several years ago just before Christmas, my niece, Shelly, grabbed her mom’s hand and, without explanation, led her into the privacy of the laundry room. “Mom,” she asked in a serious whisper, “is it okay if I believe just one more year?”
Since that memorable happening, our family has established a family tradition. Each Christmas Eve, we gather together around the tree. With the lights low and the fire burning in the fireplace, we ask the question once again, the most important question of the year, “Is it okay if we believe one more year?”—not only believe in the traditions of childhood with Santa Claus and reindeer, but more importantly in the message of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating. Do we believe in his mission, his atonement, his resurrection? Do we believe in his invitation to come and follow him?
Of course we are not really committing ourselves for only a year. We are pledged to follow the Savior forever. But we live life a day, a week, a month, a year at a time, and Christmas is a season to focus on the year ahead and reconfirm our discipleship.”
-Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, 9th General Young Women’s President, The Bell Still Rings
“When our children were young, we would go carol singing on Christmas Eve, delivering gifts of Yule logs to less-active families in our ward. We would light candles on Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story, have a special family meal, and then enjoy Christmas together.”
-Elder David S. Baxter of the Seventy, Christmas Traditions of the Seventy
“One of our traditions is that every year we attend a sing-in of Handel’s Messiah as a family. We love that. We each have a score of the music, and it gives us a chance to sing the beautiful words, put to music by Handel, and recall the Savior’s ministry.”
-Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy, Christmas Traditions of the Seventy
What Christmas traditions do you and your family have? Sound off in the comments below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.