I don’t know why some people take offense to businesses which don’t cater to the traditional Christmas themes. They turn it into a religious issue when Christmas Day is far from a religious holiday in itself. As far as I’m concerned, the Christmas holiday period is a time when people take much-needed breaks from work and spend more time with family. Does it really matter if it’s a “real” holiday or not? As always, I’ll explain my point of view as I go along.
What is Christmas Day?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Christmas is a shortened word meaning “Christ’s Mass” or “Mass of Christ”, which would indicate that it’s a religious holiday designed to get people into church. That’s as far as it needs to go as far that part of it’s concerned.
Some people celebrate Christmas Day on the traditional date of December 25 and some do not. The reasoning is that it’s the day that represents Christ’s birthday. It’s a completely bogus date because history proves that he wasn’t born in December. Besides, Christ told people to remember his death (the last supper), not his birth. It seems that people never listen to what dying men ask for. If you want to celebrate his death, as you should, look to the passover period on the Jewish calendar and avoid the fictitious December birth date.
I don’t agree with parents who teach their children about fictional characters like Santa Claus. Sure, the mythology of this fictional character has a basis in history, but the simple fact that he’s called by so many different names (Santa Claus, Saint Nicolas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, etc.) should be a good excuse to avoid it. It’s fine to let fantasies continue as long as you know to tell them that Santa isn’t real as soon as they’re old enough to understand. I think I was about 8-years old when I figured it out for myself using simple logic.
Christmas Gifts, Christmas Cards, Christmas Trees and other Christmas Stuff
The older I get, the more I prefer the term “Happy Holidays”. It frees me from the traditions of Christmas. Gift giving, for example, should happen when you feel like giving a gift and not holding off until a special date. No one loves Christmas as a gift-giving holiday more than the businesses trying to sell their wares. The economy of Christmas gifts defeats the very meaning it’s supposed to imply and starts on “Black Friday” (again, that part depends on who you ask) and ends after New Year’s Day.
A lot of people go through the ritual of sending out Christmas cards (or Happy Holiday cards) every year. The cards usually end up as part of the Christmas decorations for that year or the year following. Sometimes they end up as ornaments on Christmas trees. Christmas cards are big money makers for the companies that make the cards and of course, the post office. If you’re a habitual card sender, you can save some money and make your Christmas cards more personal by making them yourself. I’ll get into that aspect at another time.
A couple of other traditions involving Christmas are putting up Christmas trees and Christmas lights. I haven’t put up a Christmas tree since 2004 and I haven’t missed doing so. Call me a Scrooge if you like, but I don’t see the point. I put up Christmas lights in 2006 and 2007 and haven’t bothered since then. When only two houses in the neighborhood are lit up, it seems to be more of a magnet for those trying to squeeze money out of me for the holidays than anything else. I won’t even mention the carolers that don’t seem to bother us as much as they did then.
A Secular Holiday Co-opted by Religion
That’s my opinion of it, in a nutshell. I’m not anti-religious but I find it difficult to believe how many holidays religions have tried to claim as their own. Anyone who pays attention to Christian history would know that Christmas Day isn’t a true religious holiday. I can’t speak for other religions, of course.
If you’re celebrating Christmas as Christmas, are you doing it that way because of tradition or family or some sort of expected behavior? You should always examine why you do the things you do before you do them, in cases like these. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the Christmas holiday period as something other than Christmas (like a break from work or a planned vacation or something other than a religious holiday).
My wife and I disagree on many religious issues due to the fact that she’s a Roman Catholic and I am not. Thankfully, she doesn’t force her issues on me and I don’t force my issues on her.
[Originally published in December, 2010]