Keep Christ in Christmas (and Keep Them Both at Home)

Please!

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:

  1. Commemorate other holidays: get a better, more even distribution of religious holidays in the mix.
  2. Get rid of paid holy days: that’s it.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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3 Comments on “Keep Christ in Christmas (and Keep Them Both at Home)”

  1. debamom says:

    Sounds like you did your home work, good job and thanks for your opinion

  2. Rob Nusbaum says:

    When you say, “despite “X” being the Greek abbreviation for “Christ” and often appearing in Latin and Greek depictions of Christ”, a couple of questions come to mind. First, do you speak Greek? You very well may, for all I know. But, do you think that all or most of those who use the term “xmas” speak Greek? I doubt it. Do you abbreviate any other names or holidays with a Greek letter? You certainly have the right to, and I would not want to see that right taken away from anyone. Does anyone really think of Christ every time they see the letter X (eg, xray, x-out golf balls, etc)? The whole Greek letter thing is just an excuse for eliminating the name of Christ, IMHO. As for the constitution, we could probably have quite a debate as to what constitutes the establishment of religion. I do not intend to “force” my beliefs on anyone, but I also don’t have to patronize places of business that advertise “xmas trees” or “xmas sales”. That’s just my own little protest. One last question, what is the point of celebrating the birthday of someone you don’t believe in?

    • James says:

      I don’t speak Greek. I also don’t speak Latin, but I often say “Carpe diem”. I don’t speak French (very well), but I still say words like “rendezvous” and “baguette”. I also speak English, which is itself derived from dozens of other languages. I have recently endeavored to only use words that I know the full meaning of as well.

      What you’re talking about is ignorance, really. If someone says “xmas”, thinking it is a politically-neutral way out of things, then they’re an idiot. That’s all there is to it. And I don’t abbreviate any other holidays with Greek letters, probably because I can’t think of another holiday that begins with “Christ-“. And actually, I do think of Christ when I see X, because an X looks like a tipped-over cross, no?

      It might be an excuse for eliminating the name of Christ, granted. But in the end, it would be a failure, because, again, the x stands for Christ. It’s as foolish as changing it to “Happy Holidays”, because, as I pointed out, Holiday is a word derived from the two separate words, holy and day. A holiday is a holy day.

      You don’t have to patronize stores that advertise xmas trees or whatever, in the same way that I don’t have to patronize stores that sell Christmas trees (though, to be fair, calling it anything other than a Christmas tree is absolutely stupid). My point is this: some people don’t believe in Christ or in Christmas. There is no “war” on Christmas. As it stands, Christianity has hegemonic dominance in the US and in Canada. Christmas is not a secular day off, and to name it as such, or to lend it any sort of legitimacy as one by naming it a national holiday, is not a secular move but is instead one intended to force Christmas on the populace.

      Finally: why celebrate it if I don’t believe in Christ? First of all, you’re assuming that I don’t believe in Christ and have ignored the possibility that I’ve taken the position of Devil’s Advocate, as a believer who is pointing out the hypocrisy in proclaiming that there is a war on Christmas while making Christmas a statutory holiday and going berserk if someone dares celebrate something other than the birth of the saviour of mankind on December 25. I’m not going to address whether or not your assumption is right or wrong because that is, well, neither here nor there. If you read my post, you’ll have noticed that I allude to the fact that Christmas has gone far beyond just the celebration of the birth and Christ. Between Christmas carols, Christmas trees, stockings, Santa Claus, reindeer, egg nog, and the gift exchange, it is for many something else, such as a chance to spend some time with your loved ones. That’s what I did on the 25th of December.


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