Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

What “War Against Christmas”?

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...

Image via Wikipedia

For those who love wars, there’s always room for one more, and now it’s said that one’s been declared against Christmas by those who don’t believe in or celebrate it.

I thought the latter were merely stating their own preferences, but Fox News, eager to push people into a fight, has made this a priority, led by their intrepid investigative journalist, Gretchen the Little Beauty Queen. She insists that those who are big into Christmas feel they are under attack.

This is likely but another symptom of the changing cultural climate, represented by those who want to “take back their country,” a plaintive cry heard since the election of Obama. Symbolically, the election of a black president merely underscored changes that have long eroded a traditional (read: recognizable) society more familiar to those middle aged and older.

The casualty here is American religion, which has been politicized and made part of the conservative agenda. Declaring this to be a “Christian America” is an attempt to authorize keeping things The Way They Always Were. But, sorry, things weren’t always that way.

For example, the “traditional” family, according to sociologists, was already superceded by both the “nuclear” and “modern” family, and now by a “post-modern” one. But try to tell that to the union.

Christmas is one day in the month of December, but some folks believe they own all thirty-one, and to make room for, say, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa is to admit heretics and impostors. That’s why Christmas muzak is used to drive us nuts, and its commercialization to assault our eyes, even before Thanksgiving, meaning it’s all about the marketplace, to which we are now slaves.

Christmas itself is really about children; it’s a children’s story, for one thing. Lately, however, when I say “happy holidays,” I get fingers jabbed in my face with a stern correction that the entire month is “Merry Christmas” time. But, as such persons often say, it’s a free country, except of course when others claim the same freedom. Then all others must toe the line. I do say, “Merry Christmas” when it’s Christmas Day. To say it during Hanukkah would be rude.

It’s sad that Jews had to beef up Hanukkah, a minor commemoration, to avoid being co-opted at this season of the year. Hence the rise of the “Hanukkah Bush” (which for some Jews is an outrage) to compete with the Christmas Tree. It might help if they would make up their minds how they want to spell it: Hanukkah, or Chanuka?.

But Christmas wasn’t always a big deal, either, banned as a celebration by England’s “Lord Protector” Oliver Cromwell in the 1600s, and our precious Puritans had no use for it at all: banks and businesses stayed open many years before mass immigration brought Orthodoxy and its practices to our shores. Puritans knew that the Tree, the Yule Log and use of lights were all pagan practices, and that was only a short list of their objections. The depiction accompanying this post shows but one step in the evolution of Father Christmas in Scandanavia, riding atop a goat.

What Fox doesn’t mention is that Baby Jesus, and Santa Claus, are major competitors this time of year. If there’s a war, that’s it. One comes from heaven amid announcements by angels and bearing the gift of salvation; the other an elfin benefactor from an undisclosed location on the North Pole, bringing material gifts on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Spirituality versus Materialism.

Forgive me for seeming impertinent when I say that, take the materialism out of Christmas and everyone, including kids, will have much less interest in the birth of a child, however special. If this seems far-fetched, give it a try for one year.

On the other hand, those Four (Modern) Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the “new atheists” Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and Dennett, protest too much. Religion is poetry more than prose, and they do well to keep that in mind.

Many hands compiled the book of Matthew, e.g., before a final editor pulled all the pieces together and made one heck of a story. But he wasn’t trying to fool anyone. Novels are by far the most popular literature, though fictional people and places are used to tell important truths about life and the world. So did the Gospel authors, so give them a break.

But it’s no reason to get on a high horse. You can fall therefrom and break your neck. There’s no “war on Christmas,” just life in a democracy within the freest nation on earth.

So, Happy Holidays!

6 Responses to “What “War Against Christmas”?”

  1. According to most calculations, if there really was a Jesus, he was born some time in mid-September. Christmas is really a pagan holiday adapted by Christians to get more people to join their cult.

  2. There you go again…trying to speak rationally to the rationally impaired.

    Try saying Feliz Navidad. That ought to ramp up the rhetoric.

  3. Great post. Hemant Mehta’s “Friendly Atheist” blog has a post making similar points…I endorse your paragraph on the Four Horsemen also.

  4. Great read. I loved it and thanks for your thoughts at my blog on it. 😉 xxx

  5. You hit the nail on the head! Take the commercial out of Christmas, and who would ever know what swaddling clothes were for. Actually, what were “swaddling clothes”?

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