As I sit here with my hot cocoa listening to Christmas music during the break in my Christmas movie marathon, I find myself more irritated than usual about my common holiday gripes. I have two main scrooge moments throughout the holiday season that I typically keep quiet because so many of the people I know are on the other sides of the issues. This year, however, I'm granting myself a ranting session.
1. "Those mean Christians stole our holiday!"
Yes, this is from "my folks" -- the Pagans. Every one of our major holidays is marred by some stupid "historic" debate that casts Christians in the role of villain, and I'm tired of it! They moan about religious persecution, but they turn around and vilify Christians whenever they get the chance. For example, Samhain (which is much like the Halloween many of you know) is marred with "Never Again The Burning Times!" which is a false theory that says over a million actual witches were murdered during the witch hunts throughout the world. First of all, these women were, for the most part, Christians who were at the wrong end of disputes in their villages and the actual number is FAR under one million.
Yule/Christmas comes along and we hear the argument that Christians "stole" our holidays from us. Let me begin by saying that I didn't know they could be "stolen" from us. Is there a limit to how many people can decorate a tree, burn a Yule log, hang wreaths and mistletoe, celebrate a male deity being born, await the arrival of an elderly man (Santa/The Holly King), sing carols, feast, etc? In addition, the idea that our holidays have been stolen is absurd! Yes, church officials moved the celebration of Christ's birth to the winter (even though scholars believe he was actually born in spring or summer) because ancient Pagans already had their own celebrations at that time. They adopted many of the Pagan customs for their Christmas celebrations because it was easier for Pagans to accept Christianity if it was similar to what they had celebrated before, the church knew that they couldn't stamp out the deeply-loved customs, and they probably seemed fun. If, however, you claim these are stolen, I urge you to look at your own spiritual beliefs and practices. Most modern Pagans (with the possible exception of Reconstructionists) borrow form a variety of other cultures, often tailoring these beliefs and practices to suit their needs. Is this not the same thing the early church did with the ancient Pagans' practices at the holidays? How can you condemn one act of religious syncretism and still take part in this practice you so disdain? Learn to share like we did in kindergarten, and realize that the celebration of our holidays may be similar but that doesn't mean they're exactly the same nor does it take anything away from your celebration to share it.
2. "Keep Christ in Christmas"
Yep, this one is for the Christians who feel there's some sort of war on Christmas. There isn't. When soldiers break into your home, steal your Bible, break your presents, tear down your tree and manger, forbid you from going to church or teaching your children about Christmas, and ban all celebrations related to Christmas, then you may declare that there is a war on your holiday.
I'm sorry. I know that Jesus is the whole reason behind the Christian celebration of Christmas, but does someone saying "Happy Holidays" to you in a shop really affect your celebration of this Christian holiday? Does that simple greeting remove any lingering thoughts you had about Jesus at Christmas? Does it prevent you from enjoying this Christian holy day and celebrating the religious side of the holiday? No. Then again, I don't think someone greeting me with "Merry Christmas" affects my religious observance of Yule either, but some might feel as if Christianity was being forced upon them if someone wished them a "Merry Christmas". Using "Happy Holidays" instead covers the business's butt in case someone tried to sue for religious persecution or something (which, even if it saddens you, you must know is very likely). "Happy Holidays" is all-inclusive. It covers Ramadan, Chanukah, Kwanza, Yule, the humanist holiday, and, yes, Christmas too. It shows minority religions that we are valued and accepted. So, how is using it a war on Christmas? If they decided to wish everyone a Merry RamaChanaYuleza, then you can be offended that Christmas wasn't included. It is a holiday (a holy-day, if you prefer), so it's included. This simple greeting doesn't show that it's less important or celebrated. There is no war on Christmas.
Christ *is* still in Christmas. He's there in your church, in your family's celebration, in your constructing a manger scene in your home, in your child's blowing out the candles on Jesus' birthday cake, in your reading the story of the nativity to your family, etc. That's what Christmas is, and it is up to you to keep it alive. Christmas has never been about putting up a manger scene on public property, being wished a "Merry Christmas" in every store you enter, etc. If it is, I'd love someone to point out the Bible verses that claim this.
A religious majority cannot claim persecution. I'm sorry.
On a related note, those that claim "X-mas" takes Christ out of Christmas need to do some research before posting/discussing it publicly and sounding ill-informed. X is the Greek letter meaning "Chi" which is the first letter of "Christ". So, Xmas is a shortening of Christmas, not a means of removing "Christ" from the word.
So, as this graphic implies, why don't we all just stop complaining about who is ruining our holiday, who is infringing upon our rights, and fighting against an imagined enemy this holiday season and just celebrate? When did the holiday season become more about complaining than about all the warm fuzzies, the spirit of giving, religious observance, and family that all the songs and movies tell us about?
Add a Comment