If you don’t pay attention to manufactured hype and are one of the few people that wonder what the War on Christmas is then read A Short History of the War on Christmas. I’ll wait. Now that you’re up to speed then let me give you my view on Happy Holidays, Holiday Trees, and this whole nonsense surrounding secular and religious observations of Christmas. This holiday should peacefully coexist on a common day that’s positive for anyone interested in any aspect of Christmas. However, some people are trying to pick a fight over the true meaning of Christmas and I’m just not taking the bait.
I was raised Christian (lax Catholic really) and am now an atheistic agnostic regarding religious beliefs. I think I can clearly see both sides of this supposed war and wonder why it’s even an issue. The “reason for the season” is as complex as the American public and it goes back to Yule, Noel, and the origins for Christ’s Mass outside this country. Christians adopted various pagan rituals and practices along the way including choosing Dec 25th as the day to celebrate the unknown birth date of Jesus. There’s nothing biblical or sacred about the American public celebration of Christmas this time of year. It wasn’t a holiday created by God or Jesus and was instead developed by their followers. The term Christmas didn’t even appear until about a thousand years after Jesus may have lived in the Middle East.
Things like Santa Claus and stockings over the fireplace have become an American tradition for Dec 25th but they aren’t related to Christ’s Mass. Santa Claus was pushed into more widespread popularity by Coca-Cola in the 1930s and isn’t a character in the nativity scene. Many secular aspects of Christmas are firmly rooted in American consumerism instead of Christian tradition. It’s these secular aspects of Christmas that I still embrace as an unbeliever. I grew up with them in an American family and I continue the gift giving distraction that brightens a dreary winter for human beings. It’s just a human family holiday for me. The only things I’ve had to drop from the family traditions of my parents are the display of little nativity figures, going to mass on Christmas Eve, and saying a prayer before the family meal. Otherwise, my house and the houses of Christians in my family operate the same on Dec 25th.
Go ahead and have a Merry Christmas because it’s both a religious and secular day regardless of the origin of the term. Tuesday’s etymology is from Tiwes or Tiwaz as an ancient Germanic god of war but unbelievers don’t demand the name of that day to change. Why should anyone care that there’s a secular holiday on Dec 25th called Christmas when it’s about as religious as calling a day of the week Tuesday? Sure, there’s also a religious holiday on Dec 25th called Christmas but I don’t celebrate that one. Santa Claus is front and center on my Christmas. I’d much rather see a jolly fat guy in a red suit instead of a tortured man nailed to a cross regardless of who you think that tortured person really was or why he had to endure that death. I don’t believe in it and I don’t have to for my enjoyment of Christmas.
I put up a Christmas Tree because it isn’t a biblical or religious thing. It’s just pretty and the evergreen is a nice symbol of life during the dormant winter. It isn’t really a Holiday Tree because there isn’t a Wikipedia page for Holiday Tree. There’s some sarcasm there but really the tree is only related to Dec 25th so it should just be called a Christmas Tree or Yule Tree if you want to keep to the original terminology.
I’ll say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas since both are just fine with me. There are several holidays around this time of year including New Year’s Day. I hope all of your holidays are happy when I say Happy Holidays. I also say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year individually if I feel like it. I’m only wishing you a Merry Secular Christmas when I say it. You really shouldn’t mind my intent because if you wish me a Merry Religious Christ’s Mass then I’m just going to have a Merry Secular Christmas anyway. We each celebrate Dec 25th in our own unique ways so we can think different things when we hear those words. We all mean well wishes towards each other when we say it, right? That’s the true reason for the season.
Being different and holding to our own traditions should continue to be a shared American tradition. Nobody should try to define Christmas as one exact religious (or secular) holiday dictated by the government (or church). Your secular or religious views of Christmas are right for you and everyone else so just get over yourselves, stop the silly war talk, and have a Merry Christmas everyone!!! What would Santa do? 😉