How Scientologists celebrate the holidays
Scientologists celebrate the holiday season "in the spirit of wisdom, good health and immortality," the goals they believe are set for "man" by Christ, according to the media advisory sent to VO by the Church.
Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. So is John Travolta. Kristie Alley and Priscilla Presley are, too. Besides these facts, few really know very much about the controversial religious group. But despite scandals of yesteryear, the Church of Scientology's press release indicated the church is very much alive and kicking.
Currently, there are over 8,600 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups worldwide with millions of members in 165 countries, including one church in Vancouver.
"Scientologists come from a wide variety of faiths and cultural traditions, but no matter what their background, they, like most people, gather with loved ones to enjoy the warmth of friends and family and celebrate the joy of the season," the press release read.
And they are especially "active" during this time of year.
"To use the best I know of Scientology to the best of my ability to help my family, friends, groups and the world" are the words or "code" they say they live by.
Scientologists volunteer in the communiy and try to "improve" lives of individuals in need. They provide regular religious services, "special" holiday activities for Scientologists and open houses and tours for the general public.
From toy drives to stockpiles of food and clothing to shindigs for underprivileged kids, they organize and support a variety of charitable events, the press release pointed out. Scientologists visit nursing homes, orphanages and homeless shelters, bearing gifts and entertainment.
The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood produces Christmas Stories, which is "an annual holiday benefit performance presented in the style of a 1930s radio show with traditional and original stories, songs and skits," the release explained.
"For nearly two decades, proceeds have benefited the Hollywood Police Activities League's annual Christmas party for underprivileged children and PAL's year-round inner city programs for at-risk youth."
The Church founder L. Ron Hubbard helped kick-start an annual tradition in 1983 when he gifted the people of Hollywood with a a 60-foot Christmas tree.
Now, each year, Winter Wonderland holiday village is presented on Hollywood Boulevard "as a service to the community."
"The opening of the village on the Sunday after Thanksgiving signals the start of the holiday season, when Santa arrives in his sleigh-always the final float in the famed Hollywood Christmas Parade-and lights the tree and village."
The annual event attracts over 40,000 Los Angeles locals and tourists daily with its live performances and snow banks. It's also existent three weeks each December in Clearwater, Florida.