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 and pain as well as an opportunity to focus on the promise of hope. Candles, arranged as an Advent wreath, are lit at numerous occasions during the service; empty chairs are reserved as a way of commemorating those who have been lost during the previous year. The images of the winter solstice which include the longest night losing to the increasing longer day after midnight is a significant part of the imagery used in the elements of this particular worship event. There are growing resources and popularity around this tradition due to the relevance for many who struggle to find joy and hope during festive seasons.
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."
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.
Blue Christmas services offer people who have experienced loss during the holidays a safe place to grieve.
This service is especially designed for people who have lost loved ones in the past year.
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.
Many ELCA and other congregations host “Blue Christmas” services for those who are suffering during this time of the year.
Materials for “Blue Christmas” worship to care for those struggling during the Christmas season
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.