There is a well known- yet overlooked annual tradition that comes with the holidays every year: Christmas controversies! In modern day, everybody’s a critic! From those who feel that Christmas is too commercialized, or too secular, to not enough “Christ” in Christmas, to those who feel that Christmas shouldn’t be the only holiday of note during the winter season! No one is really content with Christmas in society today, some even going so far to declare war! However, many would be surprised to know, that their “war” is based off of many misconceptions about Christmas, and that this “war” is a minor skirmish in a long line of wars, fought on many different fronts. Here are some of the major “wars” on Christmas since its existence:
- Keep the “Christ” in Christmas
More recently, some Christians have complained that “X-mas” is insulting because it erases “Christ” and makes it “X” as in unknown or anonymous. However, they fail to realize their own history! “X” in that context is the Greek letter, Chi, and is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek, Χριστός . The X is often seen in Christian religious iconography, especially orthodox. The Chi-Rho symbol in may churches contains this symbol. In the Middle Ages, it was often used as an abbreviation, to save paper and ink in a world where such things were expensive luxuries. Would the medieval clergy who could write stuff down, intentionally insult the son of God, when medieval society was basically a theocracy? Xmas is Christmas. X=Christ. Moving on…
2. Christmas is becoming too “secular”, as in not overly Christian
I’d argue, historically, Christmas is only superficially Christian. No where in the Bible does it mention celebrating Christ’s birth, and his birth, if he were actually real, is most likely to have taken place in the spring! Also, not to mention the intense pagan influence on Christmas, such as Germanic pagan traditions, like trees and the Druid’s holly. Ornaments, gift giving and especially the date are all from pagan influence! The early Church knew that to convert those peoples, they couldn’t alienate them and their traditions. Instead, they celebrated their customs under a Christian veneer. If anything, Christmas waged war on pagan holidays, wiped them out and won! The only thing Christian in Christmas is the excuse to have the day to celebrate, and the nativity scenes! Other deities such as Mithras, have the 25th as their birthday, and the winter solstice is more “the reason for the season” than Jesus’ birthday which should have been months ago!
3. “The Reason for The Season”
Many feel that Christmas has become too commercialized, and not about family and giving, but about selfishness and consumerism. While many could feel that way, one also has to remember, the “reason for the season” changed and evolved drastically throughout history. Historically, Christmas had a very different atmosphere: One of drunkenness and partying! Christmas parties were more like college parties than the sentimental picture painted today! Indeed, the Puritans and Pilgrims, did not like Christmas, not only for its paganism, but also for the sins it encouraged such as drunkenness and rowdiness. The Christmas we know today really stemmed from the Victorian era, and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. That warm family friendly feel and generosity stemmed from that perception to make Christmas more popular.
4. Christmas is American, and those who take it away are assaulting American traditions
Christmas is now an American tradition, but it wasn’t until 1870 when it was officially made a federal holiday! Christmas is more broadly, a European tradition. Christmas was happily celebrated in London when it was banned in Boston! The first colonists, the Pilgrims and Puritans made Christmas illegal to celebrate since it was associated with paganism and popery. They spent the first Christmas in the New world working on their settlement, and there is an account of some trying to secretly celebrate by playing games but were caught! Christmas really wasn’t a major holiday at all until the later 1800’s and work, schools and congress all were in session on Christmas Day. In the scheme of religious holidays, Christmas took a back seat to things such as Easter. America itself has historically waged “war” on Christmas from its very beginning! Only now has Christmas turned the tide in its favor since 1870. What we now have embraced, has historically been shunned by our country.
5. The “enemies” of Christmas have a contempt for Christianity and Western traditions
I mentioned before, many early “enemies” fought against Christmas because they were Christian! Christmas wasn’t Christian enough for them! They knew all about the paganism, and decided it wasn’t Christian to celebrate such a pagan thing under the guise of Christianity! Now, some opponents did have a contempt for Christianity, such as the Cult of Reason during the French Revolution, who did want to stamp out Christmas since it took away from the influence of their new “free” regime. Many totalitarian regimes are threatened by the influence of religion in general, including the Nazis who also tried to stifle Christmas, and seek to stamp it out since religion is a powerful rival. The point of that example, is to illustrate that this opposition came from the West though, not some far off “foreigners”. Not to mention the controversy listed above, Christmas was never originally “American”, Christmas fought a long and hard battle to be embraced by America. Christmas had to weasel its way into our culture, it was imported from Europe!
6. “Happy holidays” is an assault on traditional Western culture!
One may find it interesting to know, but that greeting has been originally a Christian Christmas greeting! The “holidays” in question were Christmas, Advent and the New Year’s. Only recently did detractors from celebrating Christmas in the public sphere and assuming everyone else does too reclaim that phrase for the sake of generality. “Happy Holidays” existed in the Christian majority West, and even former presidents such as Eisenhower said “Season’s Greetings” in the presidential Christmas card in the 1950’s, certainly before the current “war” began!
Ironically, it’s a Christian-friendly greeting at its root; “holiday” stems from the Old English for “holy day.” For much of the United States’s history, it would have been given and accepted by Christians without a bat of the eye, understanding that the holidays in question were those of Advent, or perhaps Christmas and the Gregorian new year. Only relatively recently has it become a catch-all for people of other religions. (Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays, Round 2,016)
7. My own argument: Christmas is becoming politicized, to an annoying degree!
It’s thought by all but not said, but I will say it in the open: We are afraid of Christmas going away because of other recent things such as terrorism in the Western world, and we are threatened by the idea of our culture becoming erased. Christmas now is a big deal in our culture, and many are afraid that if we give it up, it will be a slippery slope to the end of democracy and a free society! In addition, many feel the more generic terms such as “The Holidays” is a politically correct attempt to wipe out our individuality in favor if “diversity”. I am no supporter of political correctness, especially when it comes to covering up facts, such as history, but I don’t personally mind if we don’t become a Christian theocracy where no one else has their religion in the public sphere but the majority! If you don’t know if others celebrate Christmas, “Happy Holidays” is the most appropriate thing instead of assuming. How would you feel as a Christian to be bombarded with “Happy Hanukkah” all the time because you lived in a Jewish majority community who assumed everyone else was Jewish? Look, I’m not against Christmas at all, but I am against historical misconceptions and nationalistic and religious propaganda to fuel a “war” about it! Now, phrases such as “Merry Christmas”, or even the act of openly celebrating Christmas has become a political act, “taking sides” in this “war”. I think that’s extremely unfair to those who want no part in any “war”, but to merely celebrate their own holiday because it has personal significance to them. Politicizing Christmas ruins the spirit of the holiday today, one of peace and unity, and turns it into yet another partisan issue, a division of our country, not a reconciliation. Whatever happened to celebrating whatever holiday one wants during the holiday season, without getting into who you’re slighting? I celebrate Christmas in my family, but I don’t declare “war” and demand a complete annexation of the public sphere! Christmas to me, means celebrating family and reminding to care about those we love, but so do all the other holidays celebrated this time of year for other families. The holiday season has been one of joy and triumph for many cultures throughout history. Forget the wartime propaganda about the religious, nationalistic, political and historical misconceptions surrounding Christmas, just be merry no matter what you decide to celebrate! :)