Often times around the holidays, you’ll hear of the “war on Christmas”. Basically, it’s about the controversy over whether or not Christmas should be celebrated by the government as a national holiday and in schools. The arguments for not openly celebrating Christmas state that it excludes other religions, as they are looked over during the season, and the state should not practice any religion officially due to the separation of church and state. The opponents say that Christmas is a tradition and blotting it out is politically correct. Many are Christians themselves and want the “Christ” back in Christmas. Commercialism is also attacked, as many believe the increase in commercialism takes away from appreciating family and friends over material goods. Hence, the declared “war” between the two viewpoints. However, this “war” is but a minor skirmish compared to Christmas-related controversies past!
Take the puritans, they knew of Christmas’ pagan origins, and not one mention of celebrating Christ’s birth is in the Bible. The Puritans wanted to “purify” the church, by sticking to scripture as close as they could. Christmas historically, was not the sentimental family time we think of today. Instead, it was more about partying and drunken revelry! Only until the mid 1800’s, due to works such as “A Christmas Carol” and “T’was The Night Before Christmas”, did it become shaped into the holiday we know. Drunkenness was a vice to the Puritans, and revelry was unproductive, in their minds. The holiday was a big excuse to sin! Christmas to them, was insignificant, and not in line with scripture. They also rejected Easter too, on those grounds, as no mention of celebration accompanied either. Christmas was a tradition in England, and many did celebrate. The Puritans thought it was “popery” and tried to ban it along with other activities such as theater. In Massachusetts, Christmas was illegal under the Puritans and it became illegal in England too. Christmas may be challenged as a federal holiday today, but at least it’s not illegal! Even in Puritan times, people resisted the ban. For example, there was a satirical story called “The Trial of Father Christmas” all about Santa on trial for bringing Christmas cheer! Ultimately, the ban was lifted in 1681. However, celebrating Christmas was discouraged, and Christmas was just an average day, congress met on Christmas! Even in 1870, school was still in session! That same year though, the tide turned, and Christmas became a federal holiday, in the years after the Civil War . (The American one, the English one had Christmas banned!) Only in the 1800’s, did Christmas become popular and what it is today. The character of Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” is said to have been a caricature of the puritan views.
The “war on Christmas” today, arguably, is not nearly as strong or significant, as historically. The reasons for today’s “war” are in stark contrast with the historical reasons against Christmas. It’s amusing to think, that the holiday made of an amalgam of different religious traditions, and celebrated with drunken revelry, is now fought over, by people who believe the Holiday is about sentimental family time, and Christianity. Overall, the “war on Christmas” is fought by those who should check the history books!