Supposed ‘War on Christmas’ is an absurd concept

The holiday season is nearing its end, but it has not been without its share of conflict. Just like the war on cancer, drugs, terrorism and even poverty, apparently, there is also a “War on Christmas.” This war has been going on since at least 1999, when the term was coined by British-American journalist Peter Brimelow. It has since been popularized by conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly and other prominent media figures and personalities.

Naturally, there are two sides to this conflict. There are those who would like the focus of the season to be on the more religious aspects of Christmas such as the birth of Jesus or what they would call the “reason for the season,” as opposed to more secular and commercial aspects of Christmas such as gift giving. And there are those who would favour the exact opposite.

What is interesting in particular about statements like “we should put the Christ back in Christmas” is the irony. Jesus has as much to do with Christmas as the Easter bunny has to do with the Resurrection. He was definitely not born on Dec. 25. Rather, ancient pagans celebrated the winter solstice on that date before the calendar changed to what it is now.

Yule, the midwinter festival celebrated by various pagan Germanic people, and other pagan celebrations such as Saturnalia of the Romans, were absorbed into Christian observations to facilitate conversion. We can see these pagan influences in many Christmas symbols and rituals. The Christmas tree, mistletoe, gift giving and Santa Claus all have their origins in pagan tradition.

In modern times, Christmas has become more than anything a commercial holiday designed to make you spend money. You need only see those desperate last minute shoppers scrambling to find gifts on Christmas Eve to understand this. Currently, an increasing emphasis on multiculturalism and inclusiveness coupled with a religiously diversifying society has led to a battle between religious conservatives and liberals over what terms should or should not be used. Basically, should we say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”

I would argue that we should say both, along with “Happy Hanukkah, Bohdi Day, Kwanza, Eid al Adha, Winter Solstice” and the same for others. There are many holidays this season and we should not be forced into one hole or another by political correctness or religious conservatism. This is especially true for businesses that are caught in the crossfire and forced to decide whether to appease one group over another. Just like individuals, businesses have the right to acknowledge Christmas and any other holiday they wish to. Those who do not celebrate Christmas need not find it offensive. But those who celebrate Christmas should likewise not be offended when businesses do not overtly mention “Christmas.”

Religious conservatives claim that Christmas, especially the religious aspects of it, have been increasingly censored by advertisers, retailers, government and other organizations. There is no doubt that this has occurred to a certain degree. But why does it matter? If the point of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birth and for families to come together, it shouldn’t. Is the religious majority being persecuted or are they just afraid of losing their cultural dominance? The latter seems more likely.

While businesses should choose what they want to do for the holiday season, the religious aspects of Christmas should be kept away from government. Even if 100 per cent of the population was Christian, freedom of religion, a fundamental pillar of liberal democracy, would necessitate it. This means in schools children should not be forced to sing along to Christmas carols that emphasize religion and nativity scenes should not be placed on any government property among other things.

So don’t be hamstrung by political correctness or attachment to false cultural dogmas; celebrate the holiday you want to celebrate this December.

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