The war on Christmas has begun once again, as it always does this time of year. Tis’ the season for incessant Facebook declarations that proudly state
along with countless internet soapboxes dedicated solely to complaints about how Christ is no longer in Christmas. FOX News has their star-spangled panties all in a perma-bunch because to their hive mind, America is descending into hell right before their very eyes, and has been for a long time. They lament its citizens becoming self aware and more respectful toward others. Not only has our heathen nation taken prayer out of public schools (shame upon us!) but now we’ve gone so far as to remove Christ from his very own birthday celebration by insisting on saying ”Happy Holidays!” to one another as though it’s insulting to use that phrase in polite company.
If Christmas is your thing then by all means, please offer up a slice of birthday cake. No one is trying to censor you or oppress you, so please do have yourself a very merry Christmas. For the rest of us, “Happy Holidays” is nothing more than a considerate way of wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season regardless of what religion they adhere to, if any. After all, “Happy Holidays” translates to “happy holy days”, and since December is a sacred month for many religious denominations, it just seems the most respectful thing to do, especially when one can’t know what holiday another person celebrates, just by looking at them. I wouldn’t wish someone a “Blessed Yule” unless I knew for certain that individual was Pagan, and I wouldn’t wish someone a “Happy Hanukkah” unless I just saw him or her walk out of a synagogue.
“Happy Holidays!” is a simple fucking courtesy and does not herald the destruction of the Christmas holiday once and for all.
To be very clear, I am not offended by people who genuinely wish me a Merry Christmas and I will always reply in kind because, believe it or not, I’m really nice like that. It’s the sentiment behind the greeting that counts.
I am, however, greatly offended by anyone who utters that phrase in defiance because they feel as though Christmas is somehow being censored. You know those folks who will spit out an angry “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” in response to anyone who has the audacity to wish them “Happy Holidays” instead. For those who tout the idea that “Happy Holidays!” is somehow oppressive to Christian beliefs, certainly using the phrase “Merry Christmas!” would be equally oppressive to the millions of people who don’t celebrate Christmas but do celebrate some other holiday in December. Like Hanukkah. Or Bodhi Day. Eid al-Adha, perhaps. And Yule. Can’t forget Kwanzaa, either. Also Festivus For The Rest Of Us. Hogswatch, too.
Or at least it would be offensive if they cared about the use of a holiday-specific phrase with even a quarter as much ferocity as so many of their angry counterparts seemingly do. I’ve never seen any of my Jewish friends post “IT’S ‘HAPPY HANUKKAH!’, NOT ‘HAPPY HOLIDAYS!’” much like I’ve never seen any of my Pagan friends post “IT’S ‘BLESSED YULE’, NOT ‘HAPPY HOLIDAYS!’ LIKE AND SHARE IF U AGREE!” on their Facebook pages.
(And yes, I do have actual Jewish friends and actual Pagan friends. They’re not just token specimens I pulled out of my ass for the sake of this blog post.)
A ridiculous example of perceived “de-Christmasing of Christmas” occurred in November of 2009, when The American Family Association boycotted Gap over an advertising campaign. Why? Because they felt that Gap was censoring the word “Christmas”. It should probably be mentioned that the word “Christmas” was printed on Gap’s website during that time and it was also being spoken in their television commercials, so how *that* equates to censoring the word I’m not sure. Beyond those mentions, the word “Christmas” was also sung as a part of the following lyric during one of their holiday advertisements: “Go Christmas, go Hanukkah, go Kwanzaa, go Solstice! . . . Do whatever you wannukkah and to all a cheery night!”
At which point, the AFA promptly threw a fit because the Gap ad referenced Solstice – a Pagan holiday better known as Yule. You know, because it was perfectly fine to sing about Christmas, but singing about that other holiday… well, that’s censoring Christmas.
While FOX News lives to stir their brand of Krazy Konspiracy Kool-Aid, flinging it by the ladleful into the open mouths of their collective audience whenever the holiday season rolls around, “War On Christmas” is far from a new activity. One of the first official wars on Christmas was led by Puritanical Christians in the 1640’s when they banned Christmas altogether because they felt that the celebration of the Christmas holiday was too Pagan and that the traditions had no actual biblical roots. Instead of the evergreenery and feasts and carols that people had grown to love, they turned Christmas into a morose day of fasting. If I had to hazard a guess, they probably wore their finest black clothing and had perma-frowns plastered on their pasty, righteous faces the entire time.
The city of Boston also conducted its own private war against Christmas for 22 years, beginning in 1659. Eventually that ban was revoked, but Christmas celebrations were not fashionable there again until the mid 1800’s.
(I bet they just wanted to avoid the awkwardness of a Secret Santa gift exchange. We’ve all been there.)
Those were real wars that were waged against the celebration of Christmas. People were jailed for not assimilating. It was some pretty serious shit at the time.
Nowadays, people talk about this so-called “War On Christmas” but to be honest with you, I just don’t see it. Look around you. Christmas. Is. Everywhere. Homes and businesses are festooned with the colorful lights of the season. 24-hour Christmas music channels have already ascended into the airwaves – those electronic angels we will hear on high, over and over until January’s merciful release. Local shops began turning themselves into Christmas wonderlands the day after Halloween.
(Hell, the Walmart I shop in started clearing out the Halloween stuff and setting up the Christmas stuff the day before Halloween. Saw it with my own two eyes, I did.)
You can’t drive anywhere or do anything without being reminded that Christmastime is nigh. If there is indeed a “War On Christmas”, I assure you – Christmas is winning.
In a country whose foundation was supposedly built on religious freedom, what the hell is so difficult about accepting and embracing diversity and enjoying the season for what it is: a time for family and friends to gather around one another and celebrate whatever it is that they celebrate. “Happy Holidays!” is nothing more than an all-encompassing gesture of good will toward our fellow man. It is a phrase which transcends religion, extends respect to everyone and excludes no one.
Why do people feel the need to create yet another reason to argue with each other during what is supposed to be the most peaceful time of year?
That’s what family dinners are for.
(This post originally appeared on Please Stop Putting Crackers Down My Shirt)