Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 December 2019

War on Christmas

According to certain American conservative Christians, we atheists are waging a war on Christmas. Apparently, nobody deemed it necessary to tell me this when I went through atheist boot camp. Although this fear that Christmas is somehow under attack seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon, and I’m British and therefore unqualified to comment, I thought I’d weigh in on the issue anyway.

Both the UK and US have a predominantly Christian populace, and, as a result, Christmas has become part of the culture. However, in both nations, there are people who follow other religions with their own festivals, and people who are non-religious.

Here in the UK, that’s not really a problem. Christmas is the most popular festival, so people generally wish each other a merry Christmas, even if they don’t know which festival the other person celebrates, and this greeting is well received, because it’s understood that Christmas is what most people celebrate.

In the US, people also wish each other merry Christmas, but some people opt to say ‘happy holidays’ instead, as they are aware that Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated at this time of year. That seems reasonable, right? In a country that was built on immigration by people who came from all corners of the globe (side note: American globes are actually cube-shaped), using a more inclusive greeting seems very fitting.

WRONG! You see, even though wishing somebody happy holidays is a sentiment that translates to, ‘I hope that you enjoy whichever festival you celebrate; I don’t want to assume, but I wish you well anyway’, according to some people, not specifically using the word ‘Christmas’ at the time when they celebrate Christmas is like taking a huge dump on their face, the faces of their children, their sincerely held Christian beliefs, the American flag, and blue-eyed white American Jesus!

Some even go as far as to claim that people are trying to ‘take the Christ out of Christmas’ in the same way that not displaying the Ten Commandments (laws from Judaism and Christianity) in schools and other public buildings is, in some way that nobody can quite explain, evicting the omnipresent God from those places. I bet it never occurred to you that if even one person gives a festive greeting to a Christian that doesn’t include the word ‘Christmas’, they are forced to take down all of their decorations, the Christmas ham is ripped from their mouths, and all of their gifts are confiscated and burned on a pyre built out of the branches of their Christmas tree. Well, you know now, you inconsiderate prick!

The fact of the matter is Christmas, as it’s celebrated today, has little to do with the birth of Christ. The nativity story doesn’t include a scene where Santa flies in with his reindeer, and there were no decorated conifers in the manger. Jesus wasn’t even born in winter, and even if he had been, it’s unlikely that the land would have been covered in snow. And when the magi decided to bring Jesus gifts, it wasn’t after spending several gruelling hours in a department store fighting off other shoppers as they tried to procure the last bottle of myrrh.

The majority of the traditions we associate with Christmas are a product of the cultures that celebrate it, either as continuations of pre-Christian practices or later secular additions. But none of these non-Christian trappings prevent the religious from celebrating Christmas as a religious festival. Churches still have midnight mass, shops still sell manger scenes, and you can still crack open your Bible and read both of the nativity narratives. You can even do all of the secular things and pretend that they have something to do with the birth of Jesus if you like! None of us atheists will hold you at gunpoint and force you to stop, I swear!

I know I’ve treated this topic with my usual sarcastic and cynical tone, but in all honesty, I quite enjoy Christmas. I love spending time with my family, indulging in a bit of gluttony, and giving people presents with the hopes that it will bring them some joy.

No matter what you celebrate this time of year, or even if you don’t celebrate anything, I wish you happiness, religious liberty, and a credit card bill that you can easily afford to pay off in January.