Each year around this time we start hearing stories about how Christ is being taken out of Christmas. Fox News does its annual War on Christmas (i.e. viewer outrage) and, over and over, we’ll hear about the “spirit” of Christmas and how we need to remember “what the day is really all about.” (Hint: Jesus.)
During the time period after the Winter Solstice and Yule went out of vogue and today, Christmas grew to become the Christian holiday some dream it would still be. It was a holiday I like to refer to as “Jesus’ Birthday Observed.” (He wasn’t actually born on December 25th…nobody knows the date.) It was a day filled with family, prayer, thanks, and giving. I’m not sure how long that period lasted, but in the latter half of the 20th century the holiday was taken hold by capitalism…specifically retail. Suddenly, presents became a central focus of Christmas and the image of Santa in so many movies and animated specials drove out almost all of the religious symbolism that Christians had built.
Today, what we call Christmas bears almost no resemblance to the original holiday. There are some that rue this, some that applaud this, and the rest implore us to remember the “reason for the season” while they continue to aid in its termination. Agnostics and atheists didn’t steal Christmas for themselves, there aren’t enough of them. Christians killed Christmas. And, frankly, that’s a good thing because the holiday is rather boring without the adornments we identify the holiday with today.
To prove the point, let’s compare how a non-Christian celebrates Christmas as compared to a Christian.
|What they call it…||Christmas||Christmas|
|Who kids are excited for…||Santa Claus||(Hint: Not Jesus)|
|Central activity…||Opening Presents||Opening Presents|
|Favorite seasonal movie…||Frosty the Snowman||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer|
|Favorite seasonal song…||Santa Claus is Coming to Town||Jingle Bells|
|Favorite seasonal book…||How the Grinch Stole Christmas||How the Grinch Stole Christmas|
|Living Room Shrubbery…||Christmas Tree||Christmas Tree|
|Decorations…||Christmas Lights||Christmas Lights|
|Favorite activity…||Driving Around Looking at Christmas Lights||Driving Around Looking at Christmas Lights|
|Dinner with Family?||Yes||Yes|
|Goes to Church?||No||Sometimes|
|Sends Christmas Cards?||Yes||Yes|
|Imagery on Christmas Cards…||Snowmen||Snowflakes|
|Says to strangers…||Merry Christmas||Merry Christmas|
And there you have it, the only noticeable difference is that some Christian families will attend midnight mass or regular church services on Christmas Day. And I do mean some. Furthermore, some of the more devout Christian families will have nativity scenes on their front lawn. Sure. But how many do you see when you’re, uh, driving around looking at Christmas lights?
And this is all…OK. I love Christmas. You love Christmas (I presume). Christians love Christmas. And what, I ask, is wrong with that?