Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Won the War

Well, it’s Christmastime again, and you know what that means – it means at least some of your Facebook friends are shitting great big glittery, festive bricks because, apparently, there are people out there who – brace yourselves – people out there who – gasp! – don’t say Merry Christmas!

There, there, just take a moment to catch your breath.

Feeling better? Great!

The issue, of course, is that not everyone celebrates Christmas, or some people celebrate only for secular reasons, but many of the 73% of Americans who identify as Christian just can’t sleep at night knowing that other people are going around blithely and happily not worshipping Christ, and even worse, having that choice respected by society and the law.


That’s got to be the issue, because no one has ever knocked on my door and told me that I can’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore or have a “Christmas” tree or give “Christmas” presents, and I haven’t seen anything in the news about there being any new laws against Christmas or anything, and you damn well know you would have, because Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

To hear some people tell it, Christians are more offended by people not saying “Merry Christmas” than non-Christians are by people saying it. Of course, as I’ve said before, 91% of the people in this country celebrate Christmas, including more than half of atheists, probably because it’s much, much easier to shut up and be jolly than it is to spend like, the rest of your life arguing over whether or not you should be “allowed” to skip a holiday you don’t believe in or, for that matter, go around not believing in God like some kind of chump.


The whole “War on Christmas” thing came about as a result of government and corporate entities deciding to show some respect to the irreligious and members of other religions, by doing the absolute bare minimum, which is acknowledging that they exist.  Those who coined the term “War on Christmas” did so in the time-honored tradition of Americans declaring “war” on things that can’t actually be bombed or shot at, like Poverty, Drugs, Terror and Women.

Well, okay, women.

Certain people use this handy phrase to get a lot of attention from the sort of people who really would get angry if told to have a Happy Non-Specific, Possibly Secular but Most Likely Religiously Significant Holiday If You’re Into That Sort of Thing, and it helps boost ratings and book sales for certain people who, if you believe them, are smarter than you.

The rest of us are rolling our eyes. Christmas is a federally recognized public holiday, after all. Kids sing Christmas carols in secular public schools. The freaking President even puts up Christmas trees in the White House – so many, in fact, that the same people who bitch about the “War on Christmas” also bitch about Obama having too many Christmas trees, as if this made any sense at all.

They all face Mecca, is what I hear.

Some people claim that godless heathens invented the abbreviation “Xmas” in order to “take the Christ out of Christmas” so that they can keep on wantonly co-opting the holiday while still totally shitting those who find it sacred. I don’t really understand why you’d bother celebrating a holiday you don’t like, unless you’re being forced to, which is a whole nother issue.

Fortunately, those "keep the Christ in Christmas" people don’t have to get offended, because they’re wrong. The letter X has been used as a Christogram, or symbol for Christ, since at least the 1500s. It stands for the Greek letter chi, the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, Χριστός. That link goes back to the Hot Word blog, instead of to the relevant article on Snopes, because the kind of people who believe there’s a war on Christmas are the same kind of people who think that Snopes is a slave to the liberal agenda.


I’m not even getting into the pagan origins of Christmas. I once mentioned the subject to a friend in public and then turned around to find a random person glaring daggers at me, so if I blog about it I’ll probably find dead cats in my mail tomorrow. Suffice to say that the celebration of Christ’s birth, in the modern fashion and at this particular time of year, does have its origin in pre-Christian religious practices, which was enough to get it banned in a real War on Christmas that occurred in the New England colonies back when we were British and the Puritans were mucking everything up with their boring clothes and witch-burning.

At the time, England itself was led by a Puritan Parliament, and traditional Christmas celebrations like dancing, drinking and singing were banned. Rioting followed, not surprisingly, and Christmas was reinstated in 1660. In the Puritan colonies, Christmas was banned from 1659 to 1681. In Plymouth colony, celebrating Christmas was a crime, Christmas decorations were considered unholy, and town criers even made a point of hollering “No Christmas!” through the streets of the town on Christmas Eve, just to be dicks about it. 

Even after pressure from non-Puritan colonists led to the reinstatement of Christmas, Protestants continued to view the celebrations as blasphemous until late in the 19th century. In New England, some schools and businesses remained open on Christmas Day until the holiday earned federal recognition in 1870. Some historians think that, even then, it only gained acceptance because contemporary culture had relabeled it as "for the children."

So, if you’re pissed that someone wished you “Happy Holidays,” shut up.

This guy wants a word, blasphemer.