Churches offer 'Blue Christmas' services
WICHITA, Kansas (AP):
Several churches in Kansas in the United States are trying to meet the needs of people struggling emotionally this holiday season by offering 'Blue Christmas' worship services.
Blue Christmas services tend to be more subdued and sometimes reflect on themes of loss and hope.
"Everywhere they go, they're expected to sing carols and be happy, and this is not that place," said Leslie Coates, director of first connections at First United Methodist Church in Wichita.
Reformation Lutheran Church's Blue Christmas service will include communion and quieter holiday music, said Rev Mari Larson, the church's senior pastor.
"Christmas just feels alien to them," Larson said. "Many have told me and other pastors they won't be joining us for Christmas Eve services because they just can't do it. The whole world is cheery and they're not, and they feel like they don't belong."
Offering spaces like Blue Christmas worship services can help people acknowledge difficulty at a time of year when cold weather and less sunlight contribute to depression, said Dr Matthew Macaluso, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
"It's getting darker out, it's getting colder out, more people are starting to feel depressed simply because of that and yet as a society, we're putting up lights, spreading cheer," he said.
"It's difficult for people who feel sad or depressed around Christmas time when they look around and everybody else is happy but they are not."