War on Christmas

Atheists shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas they tell me.

Well guess what, neither should Christians.

Remember those Ten Commandments that so proclaim the fundamental basis of Christian morality? Well numbers one and/or two (depending how you count them) are pretty specific about no idols. Hell, the whole story about the Golden Cow sums up the Old Testament God’s feelings on other idols.

So in modern incarnations of Christmas, where celebrators are pseudo-worshipping Santa Claus, the Grinch, Rudolph, Mary, a tree, or even Wal-Mart, perhaps the Christians telling me not to have a Christmas vacation ought to reexamine their own belief systems.

But further than that, what parts of Christmas are even Christian?

The Christmas tree isn’t originally:

Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.

Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

The tree was adopted by Christians who used many symbols of local cultures to convert them to Christianity. Basically they would find a local tradition and say, “oh no, you’re not celebrating that god, you’re really celebrating Jesus.” And it worked.

Continuing, Santa Claus isn’t completely Christian:

Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their Christianization. Since many of these elements are unrelated to Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus

And most other things (minus the nativity scene) that are commonly celebrated at Christmas are not inherently Christian.

If that’s not really enough, consider this: What does the Bible have to say about Christmas Trees, Santa Claus, Elves, giving presents, spending Christmas with your family, having large turkey dinners, or even snow in relation to Jesus’ birth?

So Christmas is a secular holiday. One easily enjoyed by atheists and Christians. However, many humanists understandably prefer solstice parties, to truly revert to the pagan roots of the holiday.

But this is not why we’d have a “War on Christmas.” If anyone is asking for the use of the word “holiday” over “Christmas” (from public organizations, you can say Merry Christmas until the rapture for all I care), it’s a matter of tolerance.

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and not everyone wants to go to a “Christmas” party.

Muslims, Jews, Buddhists (usually), Hindus, and most religions of the world do not celebrate Christmas. Many have a Holy-Day (hence holiday) around this time of year, however few celebrate Christmas as the Christians do. By having public organizations holding “holiday” parties instead, we are acknowledging our diversity, and embracing it. Everyone wants that of themselves, so it’s not too much to ask that you do it for others. And that’s the real reason for the season.

Note: The actual reason for the season is that around late December the Northern hemisphere of Earth is farther from the sun, and sees less daylight hours.

4 thoughts on “War on Christmas”

  1. Not only is the Christmas tree not Christian, those who say it is obviously haven’t read their Bibles. I mean, it’s fairly explicit about not cutting down trees and decorating them. (Granted, they aren’t Christmas trees — wrong part of the world, wrong era, and in some translations it seems they’re talking about decorating *worked* wood instead of the tree itself, gotta love Biblical clarity — but the point holds.) Not quite Golden Calf stupid, since there’s no family-killing or smiting involved, but still.

  2. Good post.

    I love the holiday season. Not the consumerism or religious stuff, both of which I loathe. It’s the lights, the generally happy holiday mood, the snow and yes, the decorated trees – which I refuse to call “Christmas” trees.

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