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Christmas & the Winter Holidays

Christmas is the most prominent and cultural winter holiday for the majority of Unitarian Universalists. Before merging in 1961, Unitarians and Universalists were Protestant denominations with a long history of observing Christmas. As a modern denomination of many faith traditions, however, other winter holidays are also meaningful to UUs today. Hanukkah and Yule/Winter Solstice are usually observed by parts of the congregation, and some UUs observe Diwali or Kwanzaa.


The winter holidays have in common the special symbolism of light and the concepts of good over evil, light over darkness, hope over despair. At the dark turn of the year, the faithful wait for the return of life and light.


  • Strengthen UU Identity, embrace pluralism, and honor the inherent worth of every being

  • Lift up community, hope, and direct experience of awe

  • Experience a deep sense of connection to life, Earth, and the cycle of life

  • Embrace belonging and/or role in the Spirit of Life​


Christmas & UU  ​

This page provides information about Christmas observed in Unitarian Universalism. See each winter holiday linked below, as well.

Explore & Engage


A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickinson, Unitarian

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Seuss was Unitarian

Christmas Imagery

Modern Santa - Thomas Nash

Christmas Imagery

Currier & Ives Yearly Christmas Images - Nathaniel Currier Unitarian


First Christmas Tree in America

1835 Charles Follen, Unitarian Minister

Worship & Connect

Songs and Hymns

Following are a few options that work well in a Water Communion service, small group worship, or to listen to at home. For a more comprehensive selection, see the UUA list of Songbooks and Hymnals and the UUA List of Music for Online Worship. AUUMM also offers resources for UU music leaders. Please be responsible for respecting copyright as necessary. If you own the UU Hymnals and you're observing the day by yourself or with your family in your home, and not streaming online, you're most likely covered but check anyway. Besides legal requirements, we ask that you help support the artists. Note you must contact all individual artists directly for their permission to use their song/s. Being mentioned here as a suggestion does not constitute in any way permission to use their song/s.

  • STLT #

Christmas Music with Unitarian Universalist Connections

Unitarians have also influenced Christmas carols and songs over the years. Here are a few connections:

Jingle Bells

James Piedmont, a Unitarian and music director at a Unitarian church, composed Jingle Bells in 1857.

Do You Hear What I Hear? 
Written by Unitarian Noël Regney with the melody composed by his then wife Gloria Shayne, also Unitarian, this song was written in protest of the Cuban Missle Crisis. However, its imagery and beautiful melody quickly made it a very popular Christmas song. 

O Holy Night  
First translated by a Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight into English, with changes to make the ideology more Unitarian than the original. Still the most popular.


God Rest Ye Unitarians 
Written in the 1970s by Unitarian Universalist minister Christopher Gist Raible as a parody.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts, 1849

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day 
Lyrics by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Unitarian

Winter Night 
 in 1988 the Christmas lullaby “Winter Night” was published by Unitarian Universalist music director Shelley Jackson Denham.

Away In A Manger  
Was apparently first published in the Universalist magazine, The Myrtle, in 1884. Needs research.

Make Meaning

Candlelight service Xmas Eve, often no Christmas Day service

Reflect & Deepen



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