Those who complain about a War on Christmas have a point. These days, many of us are so easily offended or “disrespected” that it’s often hard to know what’s safe to say. Well, I’ll say Merry Christmas to you. God bless us, everyone!
The problem is, it seems to me, certain folks think Christmas isn’t for all of us, everyone. These are often believers in what are described in the Gospels regarding what occurred in a stable in Bethlehem. For them, Christmas is for, as it were, a certain “inn crowd.” However, there’s good news for everyone else.
A few years back, a Pennsylvania rabbi protested the placement of a Christmas tree at a local airport. He felt a Menorah should also be displayed to balance out the religious imagery. The airport took the tree down. No one, on either side, seemed to realize that Christmas trees have nothing to do with Christian iconography.
No one thinks, best I know, that Jesus Christ was born in December. When shepherds watch their flocks by night, that was in March. Early Christmas celebrations took place at the end of the year so Christian celebrations would occur at the same time as the Roman festivals honoring the Winter Solstice. Many of the trappings of Christmas were also assimilated from Pagan nature worshipers, like wreaths, Yule logs, mistletoe, and, of course, the decorated tree. If one were to complain these are religious symbols, it’d be closer to the mark to brand them Wiccan, not Christian.
Likewise, the figure of Santa Claus, a.k.a. Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas, has both pre-Christian and Catholic roots in Europe, although most of us know him best by way of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and caricatures by Thomas Nast. The gifts for good children made at the North Pole by cherubic elves and delivered on a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer are for any child on the “nice” list, whatever religious belief or lack thereof.
Still, I admit understanding why there are those nervous about Nativity scenes and the like at the workplace, in public schools, or on government property. True, there’s the dual interpretation of the First Amendment with those championing free speech on one side, those pointing to the Separation of Church and State on the other. But I do think the primary message of such public statements is for believers to say, Christmas is ours. All others – I suppose they get a lump of coal in their stockings? Or are haunted by a Victorian ghost of Christmas past?
So in the spirit of the season, I say Christmas is for everyone, nice, naughty, Scrooge and Tiny Tim alike. So why fear saying so? Merry Christmas! If it wasn’t so cold outside, I’d find a toga and really get into the festive spirit. Then, we can get ready for the Spring Solstice when the Easter Bunny comes out of hibernation. Unless they declare war on him first.