“Ah, it must be almost Columbus Day,” I thought to myself at the start of October when I saw my first Christmas display. Yes, it’s that time of year again! Time for a big ham dinner, Christmas trees, presents, time with the family, etc.
I won’t be celebrating Christmas this year. I used to. For the last several years I’ve tried to view it as a completely secular holiday, but I just can’t pull it off. As a result, I’ve decided that I’ll be celebrating New Year’s Day, which I will be doing in much the same way other people celebrate Christmas, though minus the tree (and no, I’m not getting a Festivus pole, either). The ideals of peace, love and family that are a part of Christmas are good, but I cannot escape its religious origin.
There’s some other people out there who can’t escape the religious origin of the holiday either. These are people who run cities where they don’t have manger displays out on public grounds. People who run large retail establishments who urge their employees to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. Schools that have kids sing “Jingle Bells” rather than “Silent Night”. These people are trying to get into the holiday spirit, more or less, but are trying to do so without any religious angle to it. It’s part of the same reason I’m celebrating New Year’s rather than Christmas.
Sadly, by some people’s standards this is a way of declaring what the right-wing media initially, and now everyone, calls “The War on Christmas.” This is what they say when they mean, “A War on Jesus, Christianity, America and Our Religion!”, but what is, in reality, simply not any kind of war at all.
The people crying about the “war” on Christmas do have a point, however slight. It’s true that our society is becoming more secular and more diverse. We’re becoming more and more aware that not everyone in this country is Christian. This means that businesses are trying not to offend or annoy non-Christian customers by saying, “Merry Christmas” when “Happy Holidays” is there and perfectly acceptable.
Also in this country we have, at least in theory, seperation between church and state. This means that the government cannot have things like Christmas trees and manger scenes on government property. Why? Cause that’s government endorsement of a particular religion. It also wouldn’t be correct to have a menorah or a sign saying, “There is no God, accept it and move on.”
Well, I take it back. You can, in fact, have one of those things, but if you allow the one, you have to also allow the others, and according to at least some people, that’s part of the War on Christmas. It also leads to some stupidity.
Of course there’s been times when it was illegal to celebrate Christmas. These bans have been brought about by, yes, religious groups, like the Puritans. They believed Christmas had too many pagan overtones and should not be celebrated by God-fearing Christians.
So let’s get past this and ignore the nonsense from the wingnuts on this issue. There is no real organized effort to destroy Christmas. There’s just a recognition that Christianity isn’t the only game in town and a desire to include as many people as possible rather than to exclude everyone who doesn’t think like you.