“Merry Christmas to one and all! Er... wait... Happy holidays! Actually, I mean... Season’s greetings!”
Yes, it is that time of year again when the air gets chilly, we don’t know how to greet each other, and we assume Starbucks changed the color of their cups in a pact made with Satan.
The “War on Christmas” we go through every year takes away the camaraderie and friendly spirit the season evokes in the many cultures that share similar traditions; the thing that binds us are diminished by this purposefully divisive hoax. Christmas is celebrated at a similar time as the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, the Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa and the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. Each of these holidays have important cultural and spiritual significance to those that observe them, and thus, are times of the year when kindness, charity and family are emphasized. And since the U.S. is a secular nation where there is no national religion, these cultural celebrations are free to thrive alongside others and mingle as they so please.
What is astonishing about the “war” is how there is no logic to support any insurgent offence taking St. Nicholas and Jesus down in sweeping strikes. Rather, there would seem to be only delusional defenders of a cause that doesn’t exist. Ten years ago, people didn’t suddenly start saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas,” there was no scheme to take the “Christ” out of “Christmas,” or a plot by advertisers and businesses to set aside the Yuletide permanently.
Those who believe that there is an attack on Christmas may have a misunderstanding between Christmas: the holy holiday and Christmas: the secular celebration. Individuals participate in the holy day while the companies and the government participate in the secular celebration.
Religion need not apply when celebrating the Christmas season. Non-Christian pagan traditions practiced like hanging mistletoe, hanging wreaths, gift-giving, erecting Christmas trees, among others, inspire a focus on spending time with extended family, relaxing, eating and having fun. These traditions are what constitute the “Christmas Spirit.”
Conversely, there is the serious matter of celebrating the birth of Jesus. The Christmas mass is a time to reflect on the teachings Jesus would give later in his life. This is the “Holy Spirit” of Christmas.
People can celebrate both, one or the other, or neither. For some (Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example), the Holy Spirit is all that is celebrated, because they put little or no focus on the pagan traditions, while for others (Jews, atheists) the Christmas Spirit is dominant, because they do not celebrate Jesus the way Christians do. These traditions are celebrated in tandem with each other and fuel the good spirits we see this time of year, because both ‘spirits’ have the common theme of kindness and merrymaking.
The other issue the Christmas Warhawks have is with governmental and corporate censorship of Christmas and Christmas symbols. Such as in 2015 when Starbucks forewent their usual Christmas imagery for a solid red cup. Or 2005 when Walmart was criticized for downplaying the word “Christmas” in their advertisements. In both these cases, individuals, like Joshua Feuerstein with Starbucks, and organizations, like the American Family Association with Walmart expressed rabid opposition for the companies “hating Jesus.”
But what is a company’s main goal? Is it to spread the word of Jesus? To revel in Christmas cheer? Absolutely not. A company only wants to increase consumer spending and increase profits. The only reason they advertise with Holiday themes is because they have found people like such ads and are more likely to shop at the source of the ad. Companies have found by broadening their advertisements to encompass general holiday themes instead of the traditions of one religion, more people feel included and are more likely to shop. There’s no scheme here, only the free market.
The government is another issue. The First Amendment protects against the establishment of a religion and the favoring of one religion over another by the government.
Many suggest the government’s hesitation to say “Merry Christmas,” or place religious-themed displays on public property is a sign that the “war” runs deep; when, in fact, the government is just abiding by the constitutional provisions it is ruled by. Although as we have seen, Christmas traditions are largely pagan in origin, the phrase “Merry Christmas” still carries with it a certain tinge of Christian favoritism, and so some have preferred to greet with “Happy holidays” instead.
What this all amounts to is this: The War on Christmas is a misguided superficial non-issue that comes up every year due to a fear mongering groups of radicals. One commenter on Joshua Feuerstein’s Facebook best summed it up: “This is how you keep the spirit of Christmas alive, folks. By turning "peace on earth" into a war and ‘goodwill toward men’ into spitefulness. By stripping Christmas of generosity, joy and incarnation (the humility of God), and forcing it down others throats (with a gun of course). Keep the spirit of the crusades alive in the 21st century!”