Blue Christmas is a Western Christian tradition that happens on or around the longest night of the year, usually December 21 the Winter Solstice. It is about comforting fellow Christians who are grieving and struggling to find joy and hope during the season.
History of Blue Christmas
Blue Christmas service provides a quiet and contemplative worship service as an alternative to the more traditional gatherings. This is in honor of those who are experiencing grief and struggling with loss. This tradition in the U.S. dates back to 1990.
The services draw relatively small, intimate crowds of those mourning the loss of a loved one, and are usually tagged the longest night services in the country because of the tradition of holding the service on or around the longest night of the year, which is usually December 21.
Although the reason for observing a Blue Christmas has remained the same since its earliest known history in 1990, the term has taken on a new meaning since May 2016, when Kevin Dunn, a resident of Simpsonville S.C., started a movement that seeks to highlight and honor the sacrifices law enforcement officers make to protect us during the festive period. This was in response to the death of a police officer who died on duty earlier in the year. The movement aims to show support for law enforcement officers and “honors the memories of those officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.” Kevin created a Facebook group called ‘A Blue Christmas’ and was able to gather hundreds of members. As a Christmas devotee, he also showed his support with the Christmas lights in his own home, replacing some of the traditional holiday lights with blue bulbs or candles.
Blue Christmas timeline
Blue Christmas services are observed and have been in observance in many different Christian churches around the country since 1990, even though the precise origin of the tradition is unknown.
In 2012, the Blue Christmas service draws 300 people to a Catholic parish in Louisville, Kentucky, making it the largest known gathering of Blue Christmas observers, according to reports from “USA Today.”
A 2014 National Alliance on Mental Illness study reveals 64% of respondents with mental illness found that holidays made their conditions worse, emphasizing the importance of Blue Christmas services.
In May 2016, the first Blue Christmas Service is held specifically in honor of police officers, after Kevin Dunn begin the movement in response to the death of a colleague who died in duty.
Blue Christmas FAQs
Is it 'Blue Christmas' or 'A Blue Christmas'?
The term ‘A Blue Christmas’ came from a Simpsonville S.C. resident named Kevin Dunn, who set up a Facebook group and website with that phrase in 2016, on a mission to kickstart a movement that shows support for law enforcement officers and “honor the memories of those officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.”
Who originally sang 'Blue Christmas'?
Elvis Presley, an iconic American singer and actor of the ’90s.
How do people celebrate blue Christmas?
The pattern varies from church to church. But generally, it involves replacing the merry and bright for the hard and doleful, offering prayers, lighting candles, and opening up to their grieve.
How to Observe Blue Christmas
Show empathy and appreciation
Empathize with someone you know who has lost a loved one and show appreciation to anyone who works in law enforcement and is usually not at home during the holiday. You may even invite them to Christmas dinner or put up some blue Christmas lights to show solidarity.
Visit the Bereaved
For people who have lost loved ones, there is no better way to cheer them up and help get them back on their feet than by spending time with them. Extend a helping hand to them and help them get through the pain of losing a loved one.
Share encouraging words on social media
Share encouraging words to people online during this period, using the hashtag #BlueChristmas. Yours might be the words someone needed to hear!
5 Things You Should Know About Blue Christmas
Honors people experiencing grief
Blue Christmas services honor the people who are struggling with the pain of loss and are not feeling very Christmassy.
It’s also called Longest Night Services
Some churches call their Blue Christmas service 'Longest Night Service,' since the tradition has always happened on or around the longest night of the year, which is the Winter Solstice, December 21.
It's a quiet and contemplative service
The idea behind the Blue Christmas Service for some churches is to provide a quiet, contemplative service as an alternative to the traditional gatherings — a way to care for those who are sad or struggling during the festive seasons while those around them celebrate.
Blue Christmas and candle
Candles are lit at several different points during Blue Christmas Services; five candles must be lit and arranged like an Advent wreath, with one central candle and four others in a circle.
Blue Christmas and law enforcement
Blue Christmas inspired Greenville S.C.'s officer Kevin Dunn to start a Facebook movement "A Blue Christmas" in honor of law enforcement agents who protect lives and are exposed to dangers throughout the year, but particularly during festive seasons, after he was moved by the death of a fellow officer during this period.
Why Blue Christmas is Important
It shows that we care
Observing a Blue Christmas shows that we care for the officers who protect us instead of being with their families. And for everyone else who recently lost a loved one.
It helps assuage the pain of grief
Grieving comes with an immense amount of pain! Observing a Blue Christmas can help in relieving the pains that people feel during the festive period.
It honors humanity
The premise for observing a blue holiday, both in its traditional form and the more recent form, is to be more humane. The holiday urges us to be there for those who feel sadness during the festive season and, of recent, honor and appreciate the law enforcement officers who protect us during this period.
Blue Christmas dates