Seasonal Semantics

I didn’t want to have to do this, but before I really get into the holiday spirit, we need to talk about the alleged war on Christmas.

I’ve already been involved in two separate discussions about this, not to mention the comments on talk radio and Facebook statuses. I’ve heard rumblings about boycotting stores who don’t use their preferred verbiage and rants about how Christmas is at risk of being taken away, as though there is some real threat against the holiday and it’s Christian affiliation.

Every time I hear someone complain about this, I grit my teeth, smile and nod, while I use all my will to keep myself from kicking them in the shin (but I don’t, because it’s usually someone I like, and if I did actually kick them, our friendship might get awkward). I know I shouldn’t be getting worked up about this. After all, isn’t writing about it just fueling the fire. By addressing this, I’m acknowledging that it’s actually a thing. It’s my hope though, that if we just stop talking about it, it will just go away, and therefore, I’m going to plead my case regarding why this should be put to rest once and for all.

Let’s start from the beginning. From what I understand, this so-called conflict seems to have originated in the United States many years ago by one of those conservative groups that like to push their agenda of hate and intolerance under the guise of morality and family values. These groups are relatively small in numbers, but they make a lot of noise, and their brand of crazy makes great headlines. This is part of the genius of their marketing strategy, especially in this case. This manufactured conflict has spread like head lice in a kindergarten class, and has become an annual subject of debate around water coolers all over North America.

There’s no question the Christian aspect of Christmas in North America has waned over the years, but I that has less to do with underhanded plot against Christianity, and more to do with where are we are headed as a society. The number of people actively practicing Christianity, as well as the number of new Canadians from other cultures and religions, has changed overall. We are not same country were half a century ago. That being said, for those who are offended by a more secular approach to the season, I must ask you: is it really that big of a deal to recognize and respect the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas?

Another important point to remember is that no one is planning to cancel Christmas. No matter how much the Christian aspect of this day fades, it will continue to be a day for you to celebrate, with or without the baby Jesus. Charitable organizations depend on it, along with our whole economy, and religious freedom and free speech is still in our Charter of Rights. Nobody is forcing you wish someone Happy Holidays. It’s not law, and subsequently, nobody is risking persecution for saying Merry Christmas.

Another interesting fact about Christmas is that Christians have never actually had the monopoly on it. Many of the Christmas traditions in North America are not religious in their origins. Most of our holiday icons have little to do with anything biblical. In fact, the Puritans rejected Christmas as an entirely pagan holiday, and choose not to celebrate.

Let’s also keep in mind that Christmas is not the only winter holiday. Often, when people say happy holidays, or season’s greetings, what they really mean is: Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve/Day. It’s and umbrella term encompassing the many celebrations and statutory holidays of late December and early January. These days could also include, but are not limited to: the Solstice, Hanukah, Festivus, and/or booked vacation days and trips. It’s not the re-branding of Christmas, more often than not, it’s an entirely different sentiment.

So there you have it. Now let’s move on, and enjoy all the wonderful things this season has to offer. Visit your loved ones, stimulate the economy, and overindulge. If you’re still feeling some holiday outrage, redirect it to problems that really exist, like poverty and hunger. Then, give generously to the organizations that help those in need. Most of all, just relax and enjoy the fact that we live such charmed lives that we have to make up things to get upset about.

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