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War on Christmas

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Why do conservatives fail to see how they could gain more for their agenda if they directed their efforts towards commercialization rather than secularization? This is an example inherent tension between the evangelical right and the corporate right, both of whom try to live together within the GOP. Pure market capitalism does not respect traditions or religion. Capitalism doesn't care. The market doesn't care. All that matters is how to make the best profit possible from selling to the public. [1]

IronyMeter This article contains excessive amounts of irony or hypocrisy. Please turn off your irony meters before reading.
Santa list

An artist's depiction of Santa's traditional practice of double checking his naughty-list of right wing politicians.

"The War on Christmas" is concocted by religious conservatives because they are offended by the social inclusiveness of "Happy Holidays". 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas, 14% of whom aren't Christian. Mainstream Americans agree if the city hall is going to have a Christmas tree, throw out the Menorah and call it a day.



Years ago, an earlier group of conservative Christians objected to the use of the abbreviation X-mas for Christmas. This earlier war on Christmas movement sputtered out when it was discovered that the X in X-mass was actually the Latin letter Chi (the first letter in the name of Christ) and had been used either alone or with the Latin letter Rho (the second letter in the name of Christ) as abbreviations for Christ for over a M (the abbreviation for millenium, another Latin word).

IronyEdit

It's ironic to hear Religious Right groups portray themselves as the great defenders of Christmas - their spiritual forebears hated the holiday and even banned its celebration.

HypocrisyEdit

While members of the Religious Right will strongly defend their right to display a creche in a Public school during the Christmas season, the same people will foam at the mouth and drip blood from their eyeballs at the mention of allowing Muslim foot baths in the same institutions.

Only criminals celebrated Christmas Edit

The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay frowned on Christmas revelry, considering the holiday a Roman Catholic affectation. A law in the colony barred anyone from taking the day off work, feasting or engaging in other celebrations on Christmas, under penalty of a five-shilling fine.

The law was repealed in 1681, but Christmas celebrations remained unpopular in New England and other colonies for many years. That did not change after the Revolution, because many Americans viewed Christmas as a Tory custom, a reminder of the expelled British.

Even Congress worked on Christmas DayEdit

Although Christmas became popular in the South as early as the 1830s, other regions were apathetic. Congress did not begin adjourning on Christmas Day until 1856. Public schools in New England were often open on Dec. 25, as were many factories and offices. Many Protestant churches refused to hold services, considering the holiday "popish." Not until after the Civil War did Christmas begin to seriously affect American cultural and religious life.

Christmas celebrations spread erraticallyEdit

European immigration increased sharply after the war, and many of the newcomers came from countries with strong Christmas traditions. Germans, Italians, Poles, Swedes, Norwegians and others brought the holiday and many of its features, including Christmas trees and Santa Claus, to America in a big way. The celebration spread, and in 1870 Christmas was declared a federal holiday by Congress. But practices in the states continued to vary, nine states still called for public schools to remain open on Christmas Day.

Christmas is PaganEdit

It might also surprise Religious Right activists to learn that many of the Christmas traditions they defend so vociferously have, at best, a tenuous connection to Christianity. Several of the holiday's most common features grow out of pre-Christian religions. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia in mid-December, a time of general merriment, feasting and gift exchanges. Slaves were given time off and were even permitted to play dice games in public. During this period, many Romans decorated their homes with evergreens as a reminder that life would persevere through the dark days of winter.

Christmas trees are PaganEdit

Evergreen Trees had long been viewed as a symbol of fertility by Pagan folk. When winter came most trees lost their leaves and appeared to die, the evergreen like Holly was a reminder that life would endure and that long days, warmer weather and a harvest would come again. [2] And if those Christians read their bibles properly they'd know they shouldn't do it.

The customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest ... with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold. [3]

Germans were early promoters of the Christmas tree and brought it to America.



Other paganismEdit

Candles, a necessary item during the dark winter period, were a common Saturnalia gift. Some scholars consider them a precursor to Christmas lights. Originally celebrated on Dec. 17, the Roman Saturnalia eventually expanded to last an entire week, ending on Dec. 23.

So where did the Dec. 25 date for Christmas come from? Many scholars believe that date came from another Roman festival, one that became popular around the middle of the third century - the feast of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. The shortest day of the year is Dec.21st. Round about the 24th of December peoples with primitive measuring systems can begin to see that the days are getting longer. That was when Romans celebrated Sol Invictus because they believed that the sun was recovering after the shortest day.

Roman festivals honouring the Sun GodEdit

During this festival, various gods related to the sun in the Roman pantheon like Helios were honored. The festival was most popular during the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275 CE), who attributed his military victories to the sun god and may have wanted to establish a solar deity as supreme in the Roman pantheon. Images of Sol Invictus remained popular and appeared on Roman coinage even during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337 CE).

There is some evidence that early Christians celebrated the festival alongside Pagans, and that church leaders, seeing these practices under way, simply appropriated the date for the birth of Jesus as Christianity grew and became the dominant religion of the empire throughout the fourth and fifth centuries.

Adding a Christian glossEdit

Legal codes laid down by the emperors Theodosius I and later Justinian made Christianity the state religion and banned Paganism. Church leaders were generally tolerant of people taking old practices and adding a Christian gloss to them. Overt worship of Pagan gods disappeared but the Dec.25 date - and many residual practices associated with the old festival - remained.

The Christian right defends Pagan stuffEdit

As strange as it may seem, when Religious Right legal groups go to court to battle the "War on Christmas," they really are defending practices historically associated with the worship not of the Son of God but the Sun God. So it is funny how Jerry Falwell could blame pagans for 9/11 when he celebrated pagan things himself therefore blaming himself for 9/11 without even knowing it

ReferencesEdit

  1. Material Excesses of Christmas are a Moral Problem
  2. Colorado Christmas
  3. Jeremiah 10

External linksEdit

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