Four weeks to nest before the birth of Jesus, Advent also doubles as a time of war – the so-called “war on Christmas,” to be specific.
If you say, “Happy holidays” and not “Merry Christmas,” then we know whose side you’re on. What fuels the decades-long conspiracy theory that secular pluralism wants to knock your Christmas lights out?
Author Peter Brimelow is credited for the phrase, and now sweet baby Jesus is in the middle of these fighting words. How did we get here? We are supposed to be celebrating Mary’s pregnancy.
In the early 1990s, Brimelow and a few self-identified conservative commentators claimed that the word “Christmas” was being censored. It was being replaced with the word “holiday” by advertisers, retailers, government and school officials for the sake of “political correctness,” they claimed.
In 1997, John Gibson wrote The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought. While his lengthy title spells out the state of things as he sees it, the idea of a persecuted American Christian majority doesn’t bear out statistically.
The World Watch List publishes a persecution watch list of the 50 places where it is difficult, and in some cases dangerous, to be a Christian. With persecution in some countries resembling that of a “genocide,” the United States did not make the list.
So, the language should be dialed back a bit. Instead, it should reflect the political objectives of those who believe that America is a Christian nation and are fighting to keep it that way.
It’s a false premise and so is the notion that December 25 is the date of Jesus’ birth. His actual birthday is anybody’s guess. Roman Christian historian and “father of Christian chronology” Sextus Julius Africanus, along with others, claimed December 25 was the date because he believed that both the world and Jesus were conceived on the same day: March 25.
Besides, celebrating Christmas has never been synonymous with throwing Mary a baby shower. Look under the tree; Jesus never gets a gift.
Instead, Christmas is a blend of German and Roman culture, celebrating Yule (“yuletide carol”) and the winter solstice (the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus), followed by Saturn (Saturnalia), the god of agriculture.
At the end of each year, the people partied the long night away with good food and exchanged gifts. Today, many people continue the celebration and say, “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”
Now the stuff of encyclopedias, it goes farther back than the U.S. federal holiday that began in 1870. Still, the argument goes back and forth, argued both as a First Amendment right and a violation of it when viewed as an expression of an established national religion. It is literally a war of words.
Last year, a man experiencing homelessness set a 50-foot USA-themed Christmas tree on fire. It was outside of Fox News Channel’s headquarters. Apparently, for some commentators, this was an indication that Christmas was under attack, even though that wasn’t the message the man was sending.
Whether you say, “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” December 25 remains a national holiday. But celebrating the leader of the Christian faith does not require government participation or endorsement. It would have been deadly for Jesus if King Herod did the former and dishonest if he provided the latter.
The planners of this annual “war on Christmas” are such party poopers. Starting a war over words not listed in the Gospels and prioritizing it as if a part of a Christian confession of faith invents enemies during what has historically been a time of celebration.
Further, suggesting that the faith hangs on these two words as some kind of loyalty test for true Christians moves us away from the real “reason for the season,” doesn’t it?