A NOTE ON CHRISTMAS

I’ve just written a column on the Christmas wars. I’m as irritated as anyone by the p.c. nonsense of calling Christmas trees “holiday trees” and the like. But it does strike me as overkill that there’s a “war on Christmas,” as O’Reilly and Gibson have it. One particularly weird quote from O’Reilly is the following:

“There’s a very secret plan. And it’s a plan that nobody’s going to tell you, ‘Well, we want to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A. because we want X, Y, and Z.’ They’ll never ever say that. But I’m kind of surprised they went after Christmas because it’s such an emotional issue.”

The relationship of what we call Christmas to Christianity is a very mixed one. Jesus obviously wasn’t born on December 25. That date was arrived at to coincide with the winter solstice. It was early Christianity’s smart cooptation of pagan rituals that helped it succeed as a popular faith. Moreover, the only people actually to have banned celebrating Christmas in the past were … Christians. Some early American Puritans banned it; so did Cromwell in England during his religious dictatorship. Secular societies have a much better record of protecting Christmas than explicitly Christian theocracies. I wonder if O’Reilly has even heard of this history. Or cares.

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