Tuesday, December 28, 2010
If you're an American who has wondered if the "War on Christmas" idea has any play in Canada, now you know. I came across this sign this morning on a local bus. It's rather silly as far as I'm concerned. Note that the first couple of lines are a slight variation on a classic phrase of Edmund Burke. But really, not celebrating Christmas in a way acceptable to the sponsors of this sign is evil? As is usually the case when I see someone use the phrase politcally incorrect without irony the feeling I get is the person in question wants the right to behave like a jerk. They want their traditions respected, but are unwilling to do the same for others.
If they want to put "Christ back into Christmas" they should allow others to put paganism back into Christmas. After all the Gospels don't actually give a date for Jesus' birth, since the writers apparently didn't think that this information was important. Instead later figures in Christianity adopted the date given its proximity to the Winter Solstice, which was celebrated by numerous cultures before Christianity. Many of the traditions we associate with the holiday also had existing roots. When you think about it this was rather a clever move. Not only would it appeal to possible converts by allowing them to continue celebrating a familiar cultural ritual, but it associated the birth of Jesus with the yearly birth of a new cycle in the depths of winter.
Ironically many throughout the history of Christianity denounced the celebration of Christmas and/or its trappings like the Christmas tree. It was even banned for a time in the United Kingdom and pre-revolutionary United States, and anti-Christmas beliefs persisted in much of the US afer the American Revolution. Given that the US is the source for the "war on Christmas" idea this is especially amusing.