Blue Christmas (also called the Longest Night) in the Western Christian tradition, is a day in the Advent season marking the longest night of the year. On this day, some churches in Western Christian denominations hold a church service that honours people that have lost loved ones and are experiencing grief. These include parishes of Catholicism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Moravianism, and Reformed Christianity. The Holy Eucharist is traditionally a part of the service of worship on this day. This worship service is traditionally held on or around the longest night of the year, which falls on or about December 21, the Winter Solstice. There is an interesting convergence for this day as it is also the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. This linkage invites making some connections between Saint Thomas's struggle to believe in Jesus' resurrection, the long nights just before Christmas, and the struggle with darkness and grief faced by those living with loss.
The worship often includes opportunities for expression of grief, pain, and heartbreak as well as an opportunity to focus on the promise of hope found in Christ. Candles, arranged as an Advent wreath, may be lit during the service, and empty chairs may be reserved as a way of commemorating those lost during the previous year. The images of the winter solstice, including the beginning of increasingly longer days, are a significant part of the imagery used in this worship event.
- Milton, Ralph (2000). This United Church of Ours. Wood Lake Publishing Inc. p. 87. ISBN 9781551453897. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
Many congregations have a special week or so before Christmas. Some call it "Blue Christmas," while others call it, "The Longest Night," and some simply call it a "Service of Remembering."
- Glick, Jenny (11 December 2016). "'Blue Christmas' service offers comfort to the suffering". Hubbard Broadcasting.
Blue Christmas or Longest Night service is modern, western Christian tradition held around the winter solstice. The event is intended for those who are stressed, lonely or grieving.
- Ewton, Meagan (6 December 2018). "Blue Christmas honors grief and loss during the holidays". Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
Blue Christmas services offer people who have experienced loss during the holidays a safe place to grieve.
- McCoy, Robb McCoy; Taylor Burton-Edwards. "A Service of Word and Table for Longest Night/Blue Christmas". General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) of The United Methodist Church. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
This service is especially designed for people who have lost loved ones in the past year.
- Mayrand, Nick (5 December 2019). "'Blue Christmas' services help Christians in down times in holiday season". Crux. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
The services tend to draw relatively small, intimate crowds – Bellarmine Chapel ranges from fifteen to forty attendees each year – but in at least one case at a Catholic parish in Louisville, Kentucky, a Christmas Eve Blue Christmas service drew 300 people, according to a 2012 USA Today story.
- Strickland, Cara (19 December 2017). "When Advent and Christmas are blue". Living Lutheran. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
Many ELCA and other congregations host "Blue Christmas" services for those who are suffering during this time of the year.
- Benedict, Daniel (2007). "Blue Christmas/Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn". The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
- "Pandemic has us thinking differently about Christmas". Moravian Church. 2020. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
Materials for "Blue Christmas" worship to care for those struggling during the Christmas season
- Kooy, Michael; Ritzema, Diane (2020). "Blue Christmas: An Advent Candlelight Service for All Who Grieve". Christian Reformed Church in North America. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
- Quivik, Melinda A. (2005). A Christian Funeral: Witness to the Resurrection. Augsburg Books. p. 90. ISBN 9780806651484. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
an Advent evening eucharist (called Longest Night or Blue Christmas) that recognizes how hard the coming of Christmas can be for those who have buried a loved one during the past year.
- "A Blue Christmas Service: If You're Hurting at Christmas". Sacraparental. 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2019-12-18.