What Secularization of Christmas?

The Christian Science Monitor has published a very weird article describing the “Return of Christmas” – i.e. the return of Christian symbols to Christmas after long years when people were forced to say “happy holidays.”

[Link] To some long distressed by the secularization of the holiday – and particularly by the disappearance of the word “Christmas” and its religious symbols from the public domain – there is reason for cheer in 2006.

Signs have appeared of a “return of Christmas” in the culture. Big-time retailers including Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s have responded to demands to resurrect a “Merry Christmas” theme in their stores. More cities are approving the inclusion of nativity scenes in holiday displays on public property. And film studios are releasing movies with a genuine biblical theme.

If the War on Christmas meme keeps going on like this, American democracy may just survive. Contrary to what some clueless fusion radicals say – “Can’t we fight racism and classism at the same time?” – people have a finite amount of energy to expend on political efforts. A civil rights group has to choose what to spend time and money on – for example, it must choose between school desegregation or renaming points of interest after civil rights figures.

It’s good that conservative Americans work on the conservative Christian equivalent of renaming streets after Martin Luther King. All it will do for them is get the politically correct people, who are invariably afraid to say anything that could possibly offend someone, to accommodate them a little bit more. From my perspective, it’ll tie them up when it comes to issues of substance, like faith-based initiatives or the Pledge of Allegiance.

It takes a special kind of hyper-sensitivity to get offended at “Happy holidays.” I’ve always assumed it refers to the two most common American winter holidays, Christmas and New Year’s. As far as I know, that’s in fact how it originated, rather than in a nebulous attempt to cater to Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and Hanukah. Kwanzaa and the Solstice are fringe, and if people said “happy holidays” because of Hanukah, they’d also use the phrase around Easter in order to respect Passover, which is a lot more important in Judaism than Hanukah anyway.

I’d like to know whoever invented the memes of “secularization of Christmas” and “respecting the rights of the Christian majority.” I’m fairly certain that the best political use of $100 is to send him a check, which he will promptly use to distract the Christian right from politically effective tactics. It’ll probably deliver a lot more bang to the buck than sending $100 to the Democratic Party or to various and sundry pro-choice organizations.

3 Responses to What Secularization of Christmas?

  1. cfrost says:

    Shhh. Quiet. Don’t distract the crèche crusaders from their holy mission of liberating Christmas from the secularist infidels.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    It’s okay. Unless right-wing radicals are significantly different from left-wing ones, they’ll consider me a concern troll who’s just afraid of their success. Never mind that I’m right; I tell them that their current method is politically ineffective, so I must have a pernicious mindset.

  3. Bruce says:

    Similarly to Passover, Easter is far more central to core Christian teachings than is Christmas. Some Orthodox Christians do not even celebrate Christmas and nowhere in the Christian Scriptures are any of Jesus’ followers commanded to observe a remembrance of Jesus’ birth (cf “do this in memory of Me” at the Last Supper.)

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