Having closed the doors on Thanksgiving dinner, we’ve taken the full plunge into the Christmas season. And yet with recent events preluding this festive time of year, we are reminded that when we’re no longer children, the disputes and bickering between cultures in society don’t always make this “the happiest time of the year.” This whole War on Christmas controversy—this year sprung by Starbuck’s offensive red cup—reminds me of a familiar quote by the peacemaker, Mahatma Gandhi: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Now while many of you reading this might find yourself unconsciously nodding or even uttering a sarcastic “Amen” to this, I ask you to take a moment and consider why some Christians might be so hysterical over frivolous aspects of a holiday.
I won’t get into the whole, long history of Christmas. Books have been written on it. But I will say that the Christian aspect of Christmas has been prominent for a long time. A long enough time for the religion to claim ownership over it. Especially in the Western world, things like traditional carols—that are old enough for their authors to be lost to history—center on the birth of Jesus and other historical events instead of celebrating the season of winter.
What began as a pagan holiday to drown out the cold, dark months turned Christian, has now turned again into a fairly secular holiday. This seems more like the holiday is turning back to its roots. This is evident in simple facts—for example, the bulk of modern Christmas song covers celebrate the snow, gifts and other festivities of the Christmas season and not the birth of a man believed to be the embodiment of God. So why are some Christians making fools of themselves and acting very un-Christ-like over things like Starbucks cups?
While I do not excuse it, I do believe that the reason this War on Christmas has become so dramatic is because of two things: time and, more importantly, other religious holidays.
Long before we grew up and cared about materialism, most of us watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965), the short Christmas special where the protagonist continuously laments over the commercialism of Christmas. Fifty years later, American culture is further from its Christian foundation and secular has become the norm. However, what probably is pushing some Christians off the deep end is seeing their religious holiday grow further from their faith while other religious holidays go untouched. Easter also has moved from Jesus’ resurrection to a bunny who secretly delivers candy eggs while Hanukkah, Ramadan and Diwali—major holidays in other widespread religions—remain almost completely unscathed.
Christianity has been the western norm for so long that it has essentially lost the sacredness for its holidays over time compared to other religions. No wonder some people have been pushed off the edge and many others remain quietly bitter. They who were once on the inner circle of society have found themselves as outsiders. So they cling to what they can and some will make a scene of claiming religious ownership over a holiday so many others have come to love and cherish. Can you entirely blame them?