I don’t usually like to post about “hot topics,” but Galit convinced me a hot topic is better than no post at all.
Like most of my posts about “controversial” topics, this stems from something I saw on facebook. It never fails. This time of year brings out the copy/paste status updates that claim that Christians are under siege and that the government is out to de-christianize Christmas by making everyone use the phrase “Happy Holidays.”
This is one of those cut/past updates that caused me to “hide” quite a few people:
WHAT A CROCK ….. We can’t say Merry Christmas now …we have to say Happy Holidays. We can’t call it a Christmas tree, it’s now called a Holiday tree? Because it might offend someone. If you don’t like our “Customs” and it offends you so much then LEAVE …I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions …If you agree with this please post this as your status!! I AM …
Yesterday I saw this blog post (you may have to scroll to the exact post. This site is actually blocked at school, so I can’t get you the exact link) and in turn, I shared it on facebook.
I knew I would catch some grief. And to be honest, I don’t agree with everything the post says, but I do agree with the sentiment.
I believe that Jesus was more than just a “good guy,” however, I concur about the whole nonsense of people getting their panties in a bunch about semantics surrounding the holiday season.
It bothers me to think that people really believe that there is some sort of coup going on to destroy the Christian part of Christmas.
And to go so far as to call Christmas “ours” (um..whose? ) and that they are our “customs” (why is in this in quotes and again..whose customs?) and to call for people who don’t believe to “get out” (get out of where? The USA? But we have more than just Christians here…huh.), is simply not, well, Christian.
I could go on and on here giving you the history of Christmas. I actually know quite a lot about it since I went through a very long doubting and questioning phase, but I’ll just give you the nitty gritty.
But what it boils down to is this: December has been a month of holidays (yes, plural) for thousands of years. WAY before Christianity even existed. In fact, Christians placed the celebration of Christ’s birth in December rather than when he was probably born (September or March) because there were already celebrations going on and this way they could justify all the celebrating.
In fact, Christmas celebrations became rowdy, drunken very immoral events throughout Europe and part of the “religious persecution” that Puritans came to the Americas to avoid was due to their disgust with how un-Christian and corrupt these practices became. The Puritans did not celebrate birthdays or Christmas. In fact it was outlawed.
Christmas celebrations went in and out of favor right through the American Revolution because Americans didn’t want to celebrate something that was British (since we were trying to find our own identity).
The actual revival of Christmas, which lead to Christmas as we know it, mostly had to do with Charles Dickens’ novel in the mid-1800’s, A Christmas Carol (which is where the phrase “Merry Christmas” came from).
Christmas didn’t become a “legal” holiday in the USA until close to the end of the 1800’s when the Christmas card was introduced.
Up until the twentieth century, with The Night Before Christmas (which is where Santa first appeared as we think of him today), Christmas in the USA was small and religious. It was with the re-introduction of pagan symbols as part of marketing that Christmas is what it is now.
Sooo…what does all that historical stuff mean?
Nothing if you are celebrating Christmas because you are celebrating the gift of love and hope to the world.
But what about the other “holidays”?
Well there is Kwanza (a strictly USA holiday started in the 60’s) and Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice. People who celebrate Kwanza do not necessarily NOT celebrate Christmas. Kwanza is a celebration of culture and community for African Americans. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday–and not necessarily their biggest (their new year, Rosh Hashanah, is actually bigger for most Jews), but has been made big by the media and marketing effects of the overall season of trying to be inclusive. And the winter solstice is a collection of many holidays both pagan and religious from all over the world and in many cultures that happen around the same time in December.
What do ALL of these holidays have in common? They celebrate a new hope. New beginnings. Something better for their culture/community/religion.
They celebrate a miracle of newness that brings hope and joy and goodness for this world.
Is it important to recognize that there are more holidays than just Christmas in December? I think so.
Is it an attack on Christmas to recognize everyone? No.
Nobody is forcing you to say “Happy Holidays!” I know I tend to say “Merry Christmas!” because that is what my family celebrates.
We focus on the birth of a baby that brought hope and joy and love to so many.
Do I get offended when Target tells me “Happy Holidays!” in their commercials? No. It IS the holiday season. Some I celebrate (Christmas and New Years) and some I don’t.
But that isn’t the point.
The point is that we spread cheer and love and kindness.
The point is hope.
And my hope for you is a beautiful season filled with love and joy. But mostly hope.