Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Sacrifices Were Hung From The Tree With Care

The so-called “war on Christmas” has raged hard this year, with Bill O’Reilly and other attention-craving neocons desperately stoking at a few cinders to start a blaze.

O’Reilly has of late backed off a bit, but the war is far from over. Indeed, though it’s been going on for years in different forms, this year’s battle seems more intense than ever.

One pre-cable news and pre-Internet war weapon was the billboard campaign imploring us to remember “the reason for the season.”

Many Christians have become disillusioned with the commercialization of Christmas, the intrusion of secular traditions like Santa Claus and the damper that our increasingly pluralistic society has put on what they view as a spiritual occasion.

They’re absolutely right in proclaiming that Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus. (Still, without him we never would have had all those awesome animated Christmas specials from Rankin-Bass, like Rudolph and Year Without A Santa Claus.)

But Christmas isn’t about Jesus H, either.

Christmas was originally a Germanic pagan holiday that marked the winter solstice (that’s today, by the way), which, like Easter and Halloween, was annexed by Christianity to make the nascent faith seem more cool.

It’s like those churches that have rock bands performing at their services. “Look, holy rollers can rock!”

Meaning, you can go to church and enjoy whammy bar guitar solos. You be can a Christian and enjoy your tree holiday, sort of. It’s just a sanitized Wal-Mart version. (It wasn’t ornaments that the pagans hung from trees, it was human and animal sacrifices.)

So, the “late December holiday” morphed from a pagan celebration to a Messianic birthday party to a philanthropic right jolly old elf with frighteningly unfettered access to our homes (why doesn’t he set off all those great security systems we now have?).

War on Christmas? Everyone must acknowledge that Christmas is many things to many people. In the spirit of John Lennon’s song, let’s end this war and have a happy Christmas – in our own ways. Instead of arguing about the reason for the season, let's have a season of reason.

And of course, for those who don’t celebrate any version of Christmas, that’s cool, too.

Happy Solstice!

Wait, that was impolitic of me.

Happy Shortest Day Of The Year!

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