We have all heard about the “Take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas’ Movement”, but in some ways it feels as if it would be a crime to do so; after all Jesus Christ and Santa Claus do have a lot in common: they are both benevolent figures, both perform miracles, and neither of them actually exist!
Okay- that might be a little harsh. It’s possible that a man named Jesus Christ once lived- but my point remains valid… and that is that Christmas is and will always be an explicitly religious tradition- regardless of how many prayers and nativity scenes we outlaw… or will it? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other Winter Solstice celebration, you are probably well aware of the religious aspects of this season. Some faithless members of society have chosen to battle this religious element in our culture by using the politically correct term “Happy Holidays” or even celebrating with a Festivus Pole, as opposed to a Christmas tree. Regardless of how you and your kin celebrate this season, it is important to know the facts surrounding the religious celebrations and the steps being taken by some to avoid them.
In America, we are blessed with the right to practice the religion (or lack thereof) of our choice, but this freedom is sometimes forgotten during December when Christmas decorations, songs, cards, lights, and nativity scenes flood our homes and cities. The over-commercialized holiday seems to be spreading its cheer and subconscious religious propaganda everywhere we turn. The true origin of the holiday is sometimes ignored by even the most devout of Christians, and the Christmas ideas we are now familiar with seem lost in translation. What does the pine tree symbolize? The stockings? From where did Santa Claus originate? And why is this holiday so intermingled with our capitalist culture?
Christmas, celebrated on December 25th, is generally considered to be the celebration of the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth; this is simply not the case. The date was taken from earlier Roman and Winter Solstice Festivals. Though the holiday is Christian in nature, it is widely celebrated by Non-Christians as well; people celebrate this holiday and refuse to acknowledge its religious properties. Some religious members of society are even offended when the term “XMAS” is used in reference to the holiday, as opposed to CHRISTmas- which is a common phrase for those of us who choose to remain “on the fence” about the whole savior thing.
Though the creationists who champion the Christmas holiday don’t believe in evolution- it seems to me that Christmas itself is slowly evolving into a secular holiday- therefore, I think it is about time that it’s adopted by agnostics, skeptics, atheists, secularists, and nonbelievers alike to create a tradition in which everyone can be a part, without subconsciously honoring the Christian monotheistic GOD. I call this the evolution of Christmas. Instead of doing away with the gift-giving celebration, we can do our best to de-secularize it. I am aware that this has been attempted by millions of people before, but I believe that with the right goals and motivations the time will come in which the celebration of Christmas does not invoke religious sentiments.
In order to celebrate secularly, one must not give up too much of the holiday as we know it, fewer prayers and bible passages are necessary but there is no need to give up your favorite holiday fudge or seasonal cocoa or family dinners! So when you visit your families this holiday season, think about some of the time-honored traditions and ask how it is relevant to today’s society. Sure gift giving is a generous way to celebrate with loved ones but Santa Claus, angel ornaments, and many Christmas carols have deep religious roots and may no longer be necessary for a proper American XMAS celebration….
Thank you and have a Christless Christmas
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