Chreasters are folks who show up to church only about twice a year… on Christmas and Easter. Christmas + Easter = Chreaster!
Chreasters go by many names… Chreastians, twice-a-year Christians, Christmas-and-Easter Christians, holiday Christians, and even some really clever ones such as holly-and-lily Christians and poinsettia-and-lily Christians (since those are the plants associated with each church holiday). However you might be tempted to refer to these Christians who straggle into church in their best clothes twice a year to do their due diligence, try to cut them a little slack. Go on over and say hello!
You’ll observe in the definition below for chreaster that the origin of the name might very well be a variety of cactus that was being marketed at least as far back as the 1960s. The “Chreaster” cactus was a big seller because you could buy it around Thanksgiving time and it would be in bloom not only in time for Christmas, but it would still be showing forth flowers when Easter rolled around. The analogy between twice-a-year Christians and this little cactus that managed to flourish just long enough to make it from Christmas to Easter is obvious.
What other terms do you know for Christians who show up to church only a couple of times a year for the major holidays? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
chreaster n. Also uppercase Chreaster. [Christmas + Easter] Someone who attends church only on the major church holidays of Christmas and Easter.
The term chreaster seems to have been originally used primarily in the Roman Catholic church, but from the mid- to late 20th century the term has been used in Protestant churches as well.
The inspiration for the term may have been the name of a plant cultivar: “The names and cultural needs of Thanksgiving–Christmas–Easter cacti are so confused that recently we saw an ad for fruiting ‘Chreaster Cactus’—apparently plants of any of the 3 types, with instructions for pollinating to produce the pretty, very long lasting seed pods” (The Avant Gardener (1968) vols. 1–2 172).
See additional information at *Christmas-and-Easter Christian.
• 1997 Telegraph Herald (Iowa) (13 Dec.) B14 : They’re called Chreasters. I’m not sure that’s the right spelling, but I’ve heard the word used to describe Christians (especially Catholics) who go to church only at Christmas and Easter. 2002 Troccoli Am I Not Still God? 22 : The other reason is that I had definitely not been a “church girl” growing up. I considered myself a “Chreaster.” I went to church on Christmas and Easter. 2007 Cuda “Easter Sermon Not an Easy Task for Clergy” Connecticut Post (8 Apr.) : He’ll also be preaching to members of the flock who don’t attend church regularly, but make it a point to come to services on Christmas, Easter and other special occasions. It’s subset of Christians prevalent enough to earn its own set of nicknames, which include “C&Es,” “CEOs” (Christmas, Easter Only), and “Chreasters.”
Chreastian n. [pun on Christian] Also mixed case ChrEastian. Syn *chreaster.
From Christian + Easter + Christian.
Christmas-and-Easter Christian n. Sometimes abbreviated C&E Christian; C-and-E Christian; C. and E.; C.E. Someone who attends church only on the major church holidays of Christmas and Easter.
There are a variety of similar terms that describe specific categories of infrequent attendance at church:
Someone who attends church only on Christmas and/or Easter:
*C&E (and C&E-er);
*holiday Christian (or *holiday hopper);
Only for baptisms, weddings, and/or funerals:
*buzzard Christian (also see *buzzard religion);
*four-wheeler Christian (and *four-wheel Christian and *four-wheeler).
Only on Sundays:
*Sunday Christian 0;
*fair-weather Christian (and fair-weather churchgoer);
For terms for someone who changes churches frequently or is searching for a church to belong to, see more information at *church hopper II.
For terms for nominal Christians, see more information at *Sunday Christian 000.
• 1967–70 DARE informants : [A person who goes to church very seldom:] “Christmas and Easter (Christian or goer).” “Christmas Catholic.” “C. and E. Christian.” “C. and E. man.” “C.E. people.” “C.E.’s.” 1976 Wallis The Minister’s Manual 260 : Dr. Edwards says that he vaguely remembered Albert as a Christmas-and-Easter Christian whose personal moral life left much to be desired. 1980 Ocala Star-Banner (Fla.) (4 Apr.) 6B : The story is told of a man who was a “Christmas and Easter Christian” as he only attended church on these two days. 1983 Lofts The Claw 223 : Greg was what the Malwood rector regretfully referred to as a Christmas-and-Easter-Christian. 1985 DARE I. : A person who seldom attends church. 1997 Pentecostal Evangel iss. 4313–4337 90 : “Are you a Christmas and Easter Christian?” asked the front-page headline of USA Today on December 25, 1996. The author spoke with pastors and churchgoers about “C&E” Christians—those who show up only on major holidays. 2006 Westerhoff Make All Things New: Stories of Healing, Reconciliation, and Peace 43 : While a little embarrassed by the appellation, Rosalie had become what some call a “C and E,” a Christmas and Easter Christian
Christmas-and-Easter Methodist n. A Methodist variant of *Christmas-and-Easter Christian.
Christmas Christian n. Syn *Christmas-and-Easter Christian.
• 1978 Hoffman “The Question of Rain” The Atlantic Monthly (Oct.) 22 : Henry was nearly inactive in the church, a Christmas Christian. 1991 Coleman Before the Ring: Questions Worth Asking 90 : When one partner feels a call to discipleship and the other is a Christmas Christian, both will be uncomfortable. 1999 Hoffman Doors: Stories 28 : Mr. Epes [was] what my father called a Christmas Christian and diluted Episcopalian.
C.E. n. Abbreviation for *Christmas-and-Easter Christian
• 1985 DARE I.
CEO n. Plural: CEOs. Abbreviation for Christmas & Easter Only or Christmas, Easter, & Other [Occasions]. Syn *Christmas-and-Easter Christian.
• 2007 Twitchell Shopping for God 232 : The bane of old-line churches is the freeloader. In the trade he’s called a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) or a CME (Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter). 2011 De Dios Oyafemi Theological Reflections for Sundays 55 : A similar term CEO refers to Christians who go to church at Christmas and Easter Only.
CEO Christian n. [Christmas and Easter Only] Sometimes elliptically *CEO. Syn *Christmas-and-Easter Christian.
• 2011 Murrell WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering, and Viral 58 : Common phrases, especially common religious phrases, tend to lose their true meaning and impact over time. Just ask the CEO Christians (those who attend church on “Christmas and Easter only”) if they are followers of Jesus.