(NB: This was originally posted in December of 2011 and caused some consternation among a couple of my acquaintances. One in particular ranted against commercialism and spoke about teaching her child the spirit of Christmas (despite being a declared atheist). Then she spoke about how many presents her child got from Santa. My goal is not to isolate any other acquaintances, but to get you to think a little. If you don’t celebrate Christmas as your holiday, I still wish you the peace and joy that is the heart of that Mass for Christ.)

Some people who are not Christian or at least not followers of any established “organized religion” sometimes get annoyed at us with our insistence to “Keep Christ in Christmas!”

They mock us as we have magnets on our cars or buttons on our winter coats as we happily wish a “Merry Christmas!” to all the poor retail folks who are banned from saying those words by Corporate Order. They seek to ban nativities in the public plaza, and stop any government agency from posting Christmas symbols. They never seem to make such a fuss over the Menorah.

Well, Merry Christmas to you too!

I know some of the arguments:

  1.  Christ was not born in December; he was born in the spring, so we are celebrating the season at the wrong time.
  2. The traditions of Christmas are derived from pagan customs so the holiday as it is celebrated now is not really Christian.
  3. Christmas is cultural holiday now, and belongs to everybody.

I will take those one at a time.

  1.  Yes, there is plenty of evidence that Jesus was born in spring. There were lambs in the fields, constellations, etc. The date of Christmas was decided in the 300s by one authority because the various churches were all on different calendars. The reason for the Mass of Christ (CHRISTmas) still remains the same regardless of what day we celebrate it. The date is like something the Catholic Church calls the “accident” The event we celebrate, the birth of the Savior, is the substance. We as humans need the accident because we live in one plane of time with a past and future and we need dates. God does not; all time is the same to Him. So we could celebrate this Mass anytime of the year, but we choose to do it December 25th. So the fact that He became flesh in spring instead of winter doesn’t mean anything.
  2. When the early Christians were trying to convert the pagans, it was convenient and expedient to adopt the local customs. They banned the midwinter festival at first but people still celebrated, so they created an alternative. So there are a lot of traditional symbols which are really pagan. Red and Green are fertility colors, St. Nick could be interpreted as Odin the all-father. But it really doesn’t matter, see #1.
  3. I like the idea of a holiday we can all have. We all get the day to see family, be nice to each other, stop shooting at each other and just get along for one day. But all those folks who want that day are latching on to a day the Christians chose to celebrate a Christ-centered event. Besides, I wonder how Jews or Muslims feel about Christmas becoming a “cultural holiday” when many aspects of it don’t necessarily celebrate their culture. Doesn’t that make in more non-PC?

I have a proposal.

Christmas is now divided into two holidays. You can celebrate a non-religious, non-Christmas holiday like Festivus. (Stole that one from Seinfeld.) You can have trees, Black Friday shopping, turkey and ham for dinner and all of that. But if you are going to leave Christ out of it, then you can’t use any overtly Christian songs or symbols.

No “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” or “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” No angels on the tree, no baby Jesus underneath it.

Or you can celebrate Christmas, the real thing. The people who do celebrate the day as a Mass for the birth of Christ get those carols and the lights and the angels and the baby Jesus under the tree.

We still wish you peace and good will. We are still your friends and relatives and we still love you. We still would love to see you at Church, but what you are celebrating is the accident of Christmas; a holiday without substance. If you don’t want to come to Church, that’s OK, come to dinner. Please bring a dish to share.

 And on that note, if you rant against the commercialism of Christmas and say people have lost the meaning of it, and then you fight to get into Walmart at 3am on Thanksgiving you are like the pot calling the kettle black. You have removed Christ from the Mass, not Walmart. You are using that date as a reason to buy toys for your kids. Maybe you shopped locally (Thank you!) but you still did it.

I know that you can have the whole Black Friday shopping event and still keep Christ in Christmas, it’s not impossible. For some that shopping day is a family get together. Don’t go overboard with the shopping thing.

This is America, and we have religious freedom. That means I get to celebrate the Holy Day of Christmas and you get to celebrate your way. Religious tolerance goes both ways, I don’t try to change how my Jewish friends celebrate the holiday.

If you want the right to celebrate it without Him, you have to let me celebrate it my way too. And that includes the “Keep Christ in Christmas” magnet. (http://www.kcnativitysets.com/)

So Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.

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