War on Christmas
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“”It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind.
The so-called "War on Xmas" is a right wing demagogic neologism referring to secular progressives' attempts to keep the December solstice holiday shopping season culturally inclusive. It is famously fought every year by none other than Bill O'Reilly.
It's little known, even among those who promote this idea, that it actually started out as a conspiracy theory promulgated by the John Birch Society. In 1959, they released a pamphlet called "There Goes Christmas," in which they claimed that there was a new communist plot to "take the Christ out of Christmas" by replacing Christmas decorations with United Nations iconography. The Society claimed this was part of a larger push to stamp out religion altogether and cede US sovereignty to the UN. They urged their members to boycott any stores with "inappropriate decorations."
It is a seasonal favorite talking point of Bill O'Reilly, who is apparently horrified - yes, horrified! - that WalMart greeters might wish that shoppers enjoy "Happy Holidays" - despite the fact that his own website sold "holiday ornaments" rather than X-Mas ornaments. Did anyone mention hypocrisy?
The fact that "Happy Holidays" refers to over a dozen holidays (see below) never seems to have any real effect on the demagoguery; neither does the idea that Christmas itself was first made by blatantly ripping off a pagan holiday (let's hear it for the War on Yule!), or that puritanical types have made a few wars against Christmas themselves. So, loony Religious Rightists keep yammering about it and secularists keep making jokes about going along with it. As the years go by, the semi-ironic "Merry Christmas" greeting is gaining ground. People who might be non-religious or secular left wingnuts take pains to wish others a Merry Christmas, at least on the day itself.
Despite the best efforts of the sinister anti-Christmas warriors, the proportion of American Christians who feel a religious meaning in Christmas is increasing though religious belief generally is declining in the US.
So what's a war without war profiteers?
The American Family Association (AFA) issues a yearly list of
nationwide retail outlets often owned by huge, multination corporations companies that they say are "for", "marginal on", or "against" Christmas. Supposedly the "for Christmas" companies use the word "Christmas" instead of "Xmas" (which is highly amusing, since the "X" in "Xmas" is not a placeholder to "cross out" Christ, but the Greek letter
chi, which is the first letter of "Christ" in Greek and has been used as an abbrevation thereof for centuries) or "holiday" in their advertising, while the "against Christmas" companies do not. Of course, the AFA doesn't seem to notice that many of the companies on the "for Christmas" list often substitute "holiday" for "Christmas" in their ads, or minimize the number of references to the holidays altogether. This has led to speculation by godless, gay, pinko-commies critics that maybe the AFA receives compensation for inclusion on the "for Christmas" list, a claim that the AFA denies.
They've messed our economy
In 2008, the ante was raised as a columnist has blamed the entire economic crisis on the war on Christmas. Daniel Henninger said that the push against Christmas is leading us to a "Mad Max" type environment.
The War in politics
In 2007, even some of the Presidential candidates took up the war, with Mike Huckabee claiming that it might be "controversial," but he was going to wish the gathered Iowa Republicans a "Merry Christmas". Oh noes!!!
Late December celebrations
- Alban Arthuan
- Boxing Day
- Inti Raymi
- Holiday (Pastafarianism)
- New Year's Eve
- New Year's Day (also celebrated on the first of April, by fools)
- Ramadan has recently fallen during this time of year, though since Islamic holidays are on a lunar calendar it is progressing backwards through the calendar.
- Eid Al Adha (Islamic New Year) currently falls during this time of the year, but like Ramadan, progresses backwards through the calendar.
- Second Rite of Belial
- Solstice (winter in the northern hemisphere, summer in the southern)
- Thanksgiving (in some places)
- The Long Night
- Yule (or Juul)
Weapons used in the War
- Yule logs
- Gift exchanges
- Decorated evergreen trees
- Magical reindeer
- Plastic, life-size Santas
- Flesh and blood, alcoholic Santas
- Strings of colored lights
- Food, often in extraordinarily large quantities
Actual wars on Christmas
- In England, the Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas celebrations. This led to pro-Christmas rioting in several cities, in which rioters defied Cromwell by decking the halls with boughs of holly.
- In Massachusetts, Christmas was completely banned for 22 years, from 1659 until 1681, only being legalized again when King James II appointed an Anglican governor to the colony who could rule by decree. Christmas did not become popular there until the 1850s.
- George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware took place on the night of December 25, 1776, with the hope of catching the Hessian soldiers garrisoned in Trenton off guard in the morning as they were still in bed nursing hangovers. Presumably the Continental forces weren't celebrating Christmas as they were busy loading boats. After the Revolutionary War, celebrating Christmas fell out of style in the US as "too British".
- Some fundamentalist groups today reject the celebration of Christmas as a holiday of pagan origin. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Herbert W. Armstrong are well known for this. Less well-known, Jack Chick states that Christians are not supposed to celebrate Christ's birth in at least one of his comic books. The more fundamentalist groups like Independent Baptists and Pentecostals while not rejecting the celebration of Christmas, tend to de-emphasize the holiday relative to mainline churches. Christian fundamentalists have also been known to picket Santa Claus in malls, or even to point out that Santa is an anagram of Satan.
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Moral panic
- Wingnuts vs ACLU debate
- Conservative correctness
- War on Science
- ↑ Wikisource: The Festival
- ↑ How the Secular Humanist Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas, Salon
- ↑ http://mediamatters.org/items/200511300006
- ↑ When, in fact, most secularists really don't mind "Merry Christmas"; as a general rule it's mostly just a few butthurt egotists who complain every year. Though sometimes ostensibly liberal in their politics, these people are properly referred to as "Grinches".
- ↑ http://www.gallup.com/poll/145367/Christmas-Strongly-Religious-Half-Celebrate.aspx
- ↑ Joe.My.God. Blogspot page on the 2009 list
- ↑ Disinformation website (disinfo.com) page on the AFA's 2011 list, with commentary. (Notice whose online store tops the "for Christmas" list.]
- ↑ Near the end of this YouTube video, AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer denies to Thom Hartmann that corporations pay to get on the "for Christmas" list. However, the best part of the video comes at the very end when Hartmann calls Fischer a "blasphemer" (he actually means "heretic," but apparently does not have enough knowledge of what he is chattering about to discern the difference) for his right-wing take on the Parable of the Talents.
- ↑ The Wall Street Journal/Wonder Land: Mad Max and the Meltdown November 20, 2008
- ↑ The Weekly Standard: A Merry Christmas for Huckabee December 21, 2007
- ↑ "Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas"
- ↑ Andrews, Peter (1975). Christmas in Colonial and Early America. USA: World Book Encyclopedia, Inc. ISBN 7-166-2001-4.