5 Things You Didn't Know About the "War on Christmas"

Categories: Random Ephemera
waronxmas5.jpg
Sir Hubert von Herkomer via Wikipedia
Portrait of Edward White Benson (1829-1896)
2. Protestantism Helped Define the Holiday as Family, Not Religiously-Oriented: One out of every two Americans identifies as some sort of Protestant, which means that Protestantism has a huge influence on the way America thinks about its culture. While you find devout Roman Catholics in church on Christmas Day, even after midnight Mass the night before, a steadily increasing number of Protestant churches are closed.

Around the time that Christmas was taking off in a new, unified form here in America, an Anglican named Edward White Benson, who later served as Archbishop of Canterbury, crafted a potent combination of scripture lessons and carols specifically for the holiday season that caught on in a big way for Christmas Eve services. By 1920 The Service of Lessons and Carols had pretty much become the de facto manner of Christmas Eve worship by the majority of Americans. Many churches hold multiple services to accommodate demand.

Then in the 1950s America became almost radically focused on a Norman Rockwell vision of the family as the country's ideal. According to a 2008 article in Time, "The image of family gathered around the tree became a Christmas icon that rivaled the baby Jesus. And Christmas Eve services -- with their pageantry and familiar traditions -- became just one part of the celebration, after the family dinner and before the opening of presents."

So when you wonder why folks became more focused on presents and trees than going to church when referring to Christmas, it's because churches openly began catering to the idea that the holiday be split between religious significance and secular family life, including gift giving commercialism.

waronxmas6.jpg
Afa.net
1. There's No War Because You Already Won: The most annoying thing about the "War on Christmas" is the way that certain religious people use it to portray themselves as oppressed minorities bravely fighting for their cultural identity in a sea of intolerant fascism. It's sort of like how Ann Romney tried to convince America that she knew what life was like for the 99 percent because at one point her family was forced to live on dividends from stock. In both cases there is a whole lot of not knowing what in the hell you're talking about.

Statistically, more than three out of every four people in America identify as Christians. That means they still outnumber the second largest group, the non-religious, by more than 600 percent. The only people that win wars against those odds are Scotsmen and characters from Star Wars.

If you look at the list of retailers that have been attacked for using non-Christmas terms like Happy Holidays and Seasons' Greetings over the last decade, you see that the second anyone says boo to a major retailer for not explicitly using the word Christmas in its advertising they immediately fix that. Wal-Mart responded to repeated boycott threats by the Catholic League in 2006 by making the word Christmas more prominent. The American Family Associate managed to forces advertising changes in Target's ads the next year over threat of a boycott, and also shifted Home Depot on the same terms in 2008.

I find it somewhat ironic that in a country where Christmas was outright banned in places, the most vocal infantrymen in the "War on Christmas" seem most interested in making sure that every store and institution in America puts Christ's name as prominently as possible and to the exclusion of all else. Considering what we know about the holiday's history here, that sounds more like an offensive than a defense to me.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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20 comments
Brent Tisdale
Brent Tisdale

As a person who attended a public school that OUTRIGHT forbid anyone to wear clothes that had anything remotely Christian on them, be it Christmas or just a shirt that said WWJD, but would let kids wear shirts with devils, and rap stars, and even other religious, and public figures that represented anti-Christian sentiment without so much as a batted eye, I think this article is a full load of crap. I live in Texas, in a very RED area, and people still pull their "I'm offended" crap when you say Merry Christmas to them. And it's not Jews, it's not Muslims, or Buddhists, is Atheists, 100% of the time. I know cause they usually make a big public to do about it in front of the whole world, mostly because they think they are making a point, but really, most people are looking at them thinking they are an idiot.

Jim Costello
Jim Costello

This article, to me, reads as the author is rolling his eyes at those that seems aware that Christmas is less about Christ and more about commercialism. Sure, there are some people that go ballistic about keeping "Christ" in Christmas and will go through nauseous extremes to get there opinions known.. but isn't the same happening in the aetheist community?

facebook39
facebook39

Christians just have to play the role of martyr.  It's part of their religious identity.  And they love war(s) too - just look at how that all played out in Europe for all those years.  Every time I hear one of these bible-worshippers compalin about the "victim society" it makes me think of what a large role they have had in creating it.

Josh Reddoch
Josh Reddoch

"The War on Christmas" is a ruse by those in the conservative media bubble to sell books to the choir. And it works. Those people get played each and every year. So long as there is money to be made, the 'War on Christmas" will continue...

Puller58
Puller58 topcommenter

Thanks for the JBS info.  Seemed like much of the current crop of grandstanders borrow a lot from Welch's racket.

wordlover
wordlover

I've always said 'Merry Christmas" ---- Whoever doesn't like it, can suck it.  Life is too short for this nonesense.  

rgillies
rgillies

You seem like a smart young man - it is hard to believe you are from Texas

dutchs1
dutchs1

The worst War on Christmas was waged by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans in the 1600's. They actually DID ban Christmas.

Very few of our Christmas carols are very old. Most of the religious ones are 19th century and the secular ones mostly date from the 1940's and 1950's. Santa Claus took on his modern form in the 19th century, thanks in part to Thomas Nast, who also gave us the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant (and what's on YOUR resume?). Christmas as we know it basically came into existence along with mass consumer society in the 19th century.

Read C.S. Lewis "What Christmas Means to Me" for a comment on Christmas commercialism.

Anse
Anse

This manufactured scandal is not actually without merit. There is a War on Christmas. It's just being waged by capitalist retailers with a great deal of help from their righteous rightwing Christian conservative defenders. 

cfein
cfein

This has historically been my favorite part of the War On Christmas: The "HOLIDAY" ornaments that were carried in the Fox News store advertising Bill O'Really's show -- yeah, one of the main War on Christmas jesters. 

http://www.newscorpse.com/Pix/Oreilly_Holiday.jpg

drusilla.grey
drusilla.grey

One of my 8 year old daughter's friends told her that she (my daughter) isn't allowed to celebrate Christmas because her family isn't Christian. Understandably, my daughter was very upset. While we are atheist, we do find that the holiday celebrations and decorations liven up the darkest time of year - just like the pagans did. So I sat her doeb and explained the pagan history ofbvarious holidays and talked about how Christianity adopted them. Now she can explain to her friend why it is more than ok forbour family to celebrate a holiday that's been around longer than Christ while it is also ok for her friend's family to celebrate for their Jesus.

I find the "War on Christmas" to be like most things where religion is involved - very prejudiced. The Christians - not all, but the loudest ones at least - think religious freedom means they are free to push their beliefs on others bevause they are a majority, and anyone who believes otherwise is wrong or evil. This nonsense needs to stop. There is enough seasonal depression this time of year as it is. Let's not add more with ugly intolerance. Celebrate your Christmas or Yule or Solstice or Chanukah as you please (in your owb private space, not public), and respect how others choose to celebrate.

nyscof
nyscof

Fluoridation Opposition is Scientific, Respectable & Growing

Over 4,500professionals (including 360 dentists and 554 MD’s) urge that fluoridation be stopped because science shows fluoridation is ineffective and harmful. See statement: http://www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/professionals-statement/text/

Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, says, “Fluoridation is against all principles of modern pharmacology. It's really obsolete.”

Most dentists are trained to use politics and not science to promote fluoridation, according to Armfield and Melbye in the Journal of the American Dental Association .

Other studies show how dentists don’t keep current on new fluoride science, e.g, this study by Yoder http://tinyurl.com/Yoder

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

"As a person who attended a public school that OUTRIGHT forbid anyone to wear clothes that had anything remotely Christian on them, be it Christmas or just a shirt that said WWJD, but would let kids wear shirts with devils, and rap stars, and even other religious, and public figures that represented anti-Christian sentiment without so much as a batted eye, I think this article is a full load of crap."

I'm not calling you a liar... except, yes. Yes I am. You're lying. For Jesus. Which is weird.

spell_I_Cup
spell_I_Cup

@wordlover and nobody gives a flying shit if you say merry christmas or happy holidays or happy unicorn day for that matter.

dyoung112060
dyoung112060

@nyscof 

I'd like these folks to show me the STUDIES that show Fluoridation DOESN'T Fight Cavities!

cfein
cfein

@nyscof -- that is, New York State "Coalition" Opposed to Fluoride -- You certainly do stay busy. When you're not spamming every fluoride-related article in my town's paper, you're apparently scanning the interwebs for every single casual mention of fluoridation and posting your nonsense propaganda wherever the word appears. One would think you'd eventually grow tired of doing something so tireSOME.

dyoung112060
dyoung112060

@cfein @nyscof Well, it WASN'T in any of those links they had there !


What a surprise, a conspiracy NUT that can't back up their DELUSION, who would have thought ?

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@cfein @nyscof It's a robot, love... a paranoid, conspiracy-theory ladened robot with access to the internet... Oh god, that's worse, isn't it?

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