The so-called "War on Christmas"
Topic: Semi-random Thoughts
Bill O'Reilly and other conservatives are continuing to spread the 50 year old "War on Christmas" myth. They claim that "secularists" are trying to undermine the Christian roots of the Christmas holiday, by using phrases like "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", etc.
First of all, as an atheist I can tell you that I, and my like minded acquaintances, am perfectly happy with Christmas. I have always celebrated Christmas and will continue to do so. I say Merry Christmas and I have a Christmas tree.
The irony is that so much of Christmas isn't Christian in the first place. That the "War on Christmas" crowd complains about the use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" is also quite ironic because the word "holiday" comes from "Holy-Day". "Holidays" used to all be "Holy Days" in the Roman tradition.
First of all, virtually every part of Christmas comes from "pagan" tradition, not Christianity. About the only part of Christmas that is "Christian" is the name.
The date of Christmas comes from the Roman celebration of Natalis Solis Invictus, a.k.a. Saturnalia. The holiday was a celebration of the rebirth of the Sun God after the winter solstice. This was the major holiday in Rome, and it was co-opted by Christians who lived in Rome because it was a traditional Roman celebration. Once Christianity became the religion of Rome the holiday became officially adopted by the Christians.
That's just the beginning. All of the following traditions come to us from "pagan" (pagan just means non-Abrahamic) culture:
- Christmas Trees
- Exchanging gifts
- Santa Clause
- Bell ringing
- Yule log
- Fruit Cake
- Magical reindeer
- Winged angels
All of these aspects of Christmas are originally from the winter solstice celebrations of various "pagan" cultures. So as you can see, Christmas was never very Christian in the first place.
Additionally, after the Protestant Reformation most Protestant groups, especially those from England and early America, rejected Christmas as a pagan practice.
Christmas was actually made illegal in many American colonies by the Puritans and Pilgrims. Where it wasn't illegal it was still not popular.
Christmas didn't become a nationally recognized holiday until after the Civil War.
As much as Christians now lament the "commercialization of Christmas", it was actually the commercial interests that made Christmas popular in America in the first place. In the late 1800s department stores and other businesses are the ones who made Christmas what it is today. Christmas in America has ALWAYS been highly commercial, largely secular, and mixed with a wide variety of cultural traditions.
The other irony is that guys like Bill O'Reilly are really complaining about the effects of free-market capitalism. They complain about the fact that Christmas has become too commercial and that terms like "Happy Holidays" are becoming more widely used.
Well, Christmas is so commercial because we live in a capitalist society, which Bill O'Reilly claims is God's gift to mankind. Which is it Bill, are you pro-capitalist or anti-capitalist?
Likewise, terms such as Happy Holidays are being used because corporations want to include as many people as possible and not be exclusive. It's another product of a free-market system. As a company do I want to market only to Christians, or also to Jews and people of other faiths (since just about every culture and religion celebrates around this season)?
Don't forget that many of the country's major department stores are based out of the major cities like New York and L.A.
These cities tend to be much more cosmopolitan than "red state America", and thus the people who set policy for these department stores are much more sensitive to multiculturalism.
Why is our country run by multiculturalists from the "blue states"? Because of free-market capitalism. Free-market capitalism is both liberalizing and centralizing. The free-market tends to move towards inclusiveness and new ideas. Capitalism tends to centralizes economic means and power. What the conservatives are really railing against with their "War on Christmas" rants is free-market capitalism.
Why don't people like Bill O'Reilly and other Christians just come out and admit that they are anti-capitalists?
At any rate, as an atheist I am perfect happy and comfortable with Christmas, as well as Christian Christmas carols and nativity scenes. I mean, since all the nativity scenes are built wrong anyway, what is the harm?
All nativity scenes are anti-Biblical, since the Bible says that when the wise men (the Bible doesn't say how many wise men) visited Jesus he was living in a house and was a young boy. The Christian nativity scenes just prove again how little they read their own holy book. It seems that Christians can't get anything right about their religion and few of them have any knowledge of it. Maybe a good Christian activity for Christmas would be to read the Bible and try to find inspiration for their Christmas celebrations there, where they can see that there is no such celebration in the Bible and that all of their traditions are either wrongly practices or are pagan traditions.
All the while, I will happily sing Christmas songs, and decorate my Christmas tree, and enjoy the holiday season.
There is no war on Christmas. The reality is that Christmas never was what the Christians claim that is was. It was never a Christian holiday in the first place, and it was made popular in America BY commercialism, not as a religious holiday.