Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Christmas Conundrum

      You've heard the phrase, perhaps seen it on a lawn sign: Christmas is about CHRIST.

      You've heard your friends/family/coworkers going on about how they're "not racist, but if they don't like our traditions they can go back to their own country!" Because there's nothing Third Reich about that.

      And now we're dealing with this argument that rears up every Decemeber: "Merry Christmas" VS "Happy Holidays." It's not much of an argument, in fact, I don't know one single person who defends saying "Happy Holidays" in preference to "Merry Christmas," but I know a lot of whiners who, for some reason they can't quite qualify, belligerently insist on their salutation. I have dubbed these folks who won't relent their tirade of "Merry Christmas" as "MCs" or, Masters of Crybabying.

      Recently in West end Windsor, a shop owner caught some real holy ghost and decorated their window thusly:

The window decor equivalent of crying over spilt milk. Very Jesus of you.

      So what's the beef with Christmas?

      Do atheists have problems with Christmas? Typically, no. But I can't speak for an un-unified group with almost nothing in common. I'm not some winter solstice celebrating goon, though. Perhaps you've noticed, winter doesn't really exist in Southwest Ontario anymore. I just like celebrating my family, with my family, because I have a great family, and I don't think the new year is especially important. As an atheist during the holidays, I'm easy. Greet me with whatever words you want, just don't talk smack about my mom.

      Who has the problem?

      Certainly companies who deal with the public don't want to isolate any potential customers, profitmongering honey badgers that they are. And I'm positive the media will spin any non-story upwards to avoid actually covering news. But a non-entity like a media company or a retail franchise can't really have a stance on this sort of thing anyway, let's be mature about it; people have opinions, not newspapers or banks. A company can not be an MC.

      So who has the problem?

      It's not the crazies.

      The crazies are easy. In fact, a lot of fundamentalist Christians understand that the symbols we associate with Christmas really boil down to idolatry, in a more literal sense. There are many Christian groups who don't celebrate Christmas at all, because they realize that, as it pertains to Jesus, the whole thing is a sham.Crazies aren't MCs, in fact the fundamentalists are usually the ones who know best just how wrong the MCs are.

      So who has the problem? Who are these MCs?

      I know who has the problem. It's the people who are afraid. I won't accuse these people of racism, because I truly do not think they are racist; they just enjoy certain things about their lives and don't realize that it is up to them to retain those things. Just as Christopher Hitchens proclaimed the current religious fervor in the U.S as its "death throes," so too is all this MC trumpeting completely reactionary.

      They are people who don't understand that just as the rights of those whose traditions you feel will infringe upon yours are protected, SO TOO ARE YOUR RIGHTS PROTECTED. This does not mean you have to be a prick about it. If you say "Merry Christmas" and someone says "I don't celebrate Christmas," first of all, they're probably a bit of a dweeb, second of all, they've probably already made the conversation longer than you planned on having with them, and third, who cares?! Have they impugned you at all? NO!

      Why can't the response to "I don't celebrate Christmas" be "Okay, have a great day?" Or "alright, 'bye now?" Or "oh, sorry, but how bout that weather?" Why does it have to be throwing a fit that someone is different from you?

      I was going to actually include this bit in a Retail Tales segment because, at work, we're encouraged not to say "Merry Christmas," and keep it "multicultural" with "Happy Holidays." You would not believe how often this causes customers to reveal themselves as MCs, demanding that they be wished a Merry Christmas, or throwing the gauntlet down entirely and saying they won't shop at our store anymore. But there is a legitimate complaint in regards to the public sector, like schools, where Merry Christmas is actually inappropriate for public services employees to say. And, believe it or not, so is Happy Holidays.

      Let's break it down:

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
First part
“Merry” :
Joyous, jolly, jovial, high-spirited or otherwise happy.
Joyous, jolly, jovial, high-spirited or otherwise merry.
Second part
“Christ” :
Referring to Jesus of Nazareth, central divine figure in Christianity.
“Holi” :
From “Holy” or sacred, meaning that these “days” (see below) are made holy or religiously important by some divine figure.
Third part
Derived from “mass,” a time where people congregate or otherwise come together.
days; a measure of time.

      Basically, saying Merry Christmas is a salutation wishing someone a pleasant experience at a certain time of year which is denoted by the celebration of a certain religious figure. And saying Happy Holidays differs greatly, in that it is a salutation wishing someone a pleasant experience at a certain time of year which is denoted by the celebration of a certain religious figure.

      For the average citizen of this county (or most counties in North America) Christmas isn't about "Christ" any more than Thursday is about Thor. The yule log, the Christmas tree, December 25th, halos on the figures in the nativity scene, these are all rip-offs from other religions.

     What's with the red and green theme? Does the red relate to the blood of Jesus and the green to the...colour of his eyes? (From the apocryphal Gospel of Fabulous Verse 1:23 "Verily I say unto you, no white after Labour Day.")

      I wonder how many of the "Christmas is about 'Christ'" people know that Christmas was not a tradition in the early church (among the people who maybe, possibly, could have known Jesus), that it was nearly banned in Victorian England (yes, by the Anglicans, the Nerf balls of world religion), and that we owe the structure of the holiday as we know it far more to Charles Dickens than Yeshua bar Yoseph.

      Oh sure, you may go to church. But why? Which Bible passage is it that tells you the birthdate of Jesus of Nazareth? Please, prove to me it's not an import from Mithraism (that is, the worship of Mithra, which was made up before Christianity was made up).

No? Nothing? Grow up.

This is the design I was planning to use for my response lawn sign, but the idea came to me a bit late in the season to justify spending the $18. I do plan to use it next year though (layout is from! Thoughts?

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