Keep Christ in Christmas (and Keep Them Both at Home)Posted: December 15, 2011
It’s that time of year. Lights are getting strung up all over town, stores are offering longer and longer hours and ridiculous sales. It means more traffic (and more accidents, naturally), more dollars draining from your account, and more and more of those mall weirdos who spend more time arguing with sales clerks and taking up spots in lines than actually buying things.
It also means more strife between those politically correct folks who insist on “Happy Holidays” (the word “holiday” itself originating as “holy-day”, referring to a religious festival day, from as far back as 950AD [OED]), and those who insist on “Merry Christmas” (or, if you’re a weirdo, “Happy Christmas”), with the Christmas camp often getting as far divided as to argue that “Merry Xmas” is inappropriate (despite “X” being the Greek abbreviation for “Christ” and often appearing in Latin and Greek depictions of Christ).
Myself, as a bit of an agnostic, and am ambivalent about the whole thing. On the one hand, the holiday I am celebrating is Christmas; on the other, I’m also celebrating the New Year, too.
Christmas is, ostensibly, more a cultural celebration than a religious one, especially in certain regions of Canada and the US. Myself, I haven’t stepped foot in a church all year or prayed once, so for me, it’s even further removed from Christianity. For me, Christmastime is spending time with your loved ones, buying them presents, and putting up a tree. Christ never really enters into it. The argument can be made that given the origins of America and Canada, Christmas is an integral part of our history and that is reflected today; that while it is a “religious” celebration, given its cultural importance it is ok for us to get the day off like at Eastertime (even though the state shouldn’t be designating which holy days we get off of work). I mean, the act of buying a tree and giving out presents and cards and so on is hardly mandated in the bible. One only needs to compare Christmas in one part of the world with Christmas in another to see that the way people feel Christmas should be celebrated varies from place to place, making it a distinctly cultural celebration with an obviously strong religious background.
But I do think that is where everything breaks down. Christmas is a non-religious celebration until Christ becomes a central figure in it. When you call for people to “Keep Christ in Christmas”, you are asking them to recognize the birth of the saviour of mankind in your religion.
It is hilarious, then, when people declare that there is a “war on Christmas”. especially when December 25 is a statutory holiday. In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, for example, there is a large Hindu population. Yet (no shock), Diwali is not a statuatory holiday. Neither is Hanukkah, Eid Al-Adha, or Festivus. Holidays in Canada vary, but any holidays that do correspond with religious holidays correspond with Christian ones. I mean, we commemorate the birth and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, for crying out loud, and we typically get the day off (or we get paid extra).
So here are the only reasonable courses of action:
- Commemorate other holidays: get a better, more even distribution of religious holidays in the mix.
- Get rid of paid holy days: that’s it.
- Acknowledge that Christmas/Easter/whatever are days that are culturally significant: and allow people to celebrate their day of culture off in whatever fashion they please, even if that means not buying a Christmas tree or presents or going to church.
- Keep Christ in Christmas: and argue that even though it is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the government does have the right to establish a national religion.
Celebrate Christmas however you want… just try not to be a grinch. If you want to go to Church, do it. If you want to buy a tree and put tinsel on it, whatever. If you want to go to work and get extra pay, whatever. But don’t try to press your religion on others by insisting that they celebrate your holiday your way. That’s just not in the spirit of Christmas.