5 Things You Didn't Know About the "War on Christmas"
|Sir Hubert von Herkomer via Wikipedia|
|Portrait of Edward White Benson (1829-1896)|
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.
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.