Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping the Christ in Christmas

Christmas Tree (1)
Image via Wikipedia
One of the things about getting old, and I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, is you realize Ecclesiastes is right.  There is nothing new under the sun.  
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun.

Every year at this time Christians start up the talk of being persecuted and their holiday being stolen.  The heathen are taking the "Christ" out of Christmas.  Just a few days ago I saw one of the creators of Veggie Tales on TV saying that people trying to use a Christmas tree without calling it a Christmas tree was just as insulting to Christians as if we tried to use a menorah (Jewish candle holder for Hanukkah) and call it something other than a menorah.  Maybe he doesn't know this. But, the candle holder people use for Kwanzaa looks a LOT like a menorah and I don't think anyone asked the Jews' permission to knock off their menorah.  

Back to putting the Christ back in Christmas.  As per my usual, I can see both sides of the issue of whether Christmas is a secular or a Christian holiday.  For me, it's not either/or.  It's both. There's a thing in trademark law that if you don't protect your trademark, you could eventually lose it.  If people commonly come to refer to something other than the trademarked item as that item, the trademark is said to be genericized- it becomes a generic trademark examples are "Band-aids" which we use to mean something other than a bandage named Band-Aid and Kleenex which many us use instead of saying "facial tissue".  I think that is what has happened to Christmas.  The specific meaning has been lost because the word has been used generically so much.  Christmas, strictly speaking, is the celebration of the birth of Christ.  But, it's come to mean a lot more than that.  Some good and some not so good.  Christmas is also the time of the year when we engage in shopping and eating til we drop.  And, we usually don't make the distinction.  Nor do we distinguish it from the time of year when we wish for Peace on Earth and good will to men.  Two out of three of these meanings of Christmas can apply to anyone, Christian or not Christian.  I argued once to a Jewish friend who refused to let his children celebrate Christmas that Christmas has sufficiently been capitalized (as in made into a capitalist holiday) and secularized that it has at least two meanings and there would be no harm in allowing his Jewish children to take part in the secular aspect of Christmas- giving and receiving gifts. 

Once again we have the dust-up over whether we should call it a Christmas tree or not.  The non-Christians are offended if we do call it a Christmas tree.  So, we pretend it's not and call it a "holiday tree".  The Christians are offended if we don't call it a Christmas tree.  C'mon!  Who cares?  We all know it's a Christmas tree, even if you want to be PC and call it a "holiday tree".  A rose is a rose by any other name.  Oh, and Christians if you wanted to keep the birth of your savior "pure" maybe you shouldn't have stolen the ritual of bringing an evergreen into your home from the pagans.  And maybe you shouldn't have chosen the day the pagans celebrated the birth of the Sun God as the day for Jesus' birth.  

So, to you non-Christians who want to share in Christmas.  I say, go right ahead.  But, no matter what you call it, it's  still a Christmas tree, a Christmas party and it's Christmas break.  And to Christians who are worried about others taking the Christ out of Christmas, no one can stop you from celebrating the birth of your savior.  Who cares if they say "Happy Holidays" or want to put up a "holiday tree"?  Anything that causes people to reflect on being better to each other and wishing for the end to hostilities between all men is a good thing. If them dropping the "Christ" out of it makes it more palatable to them, I don't think Jesus would be offended and you shouldn't be either.  


Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Somehow I had forgotten this verse:

Jeremiah 10:2-4

2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

I've only ever heard a Christmas Tree called a Holiday Tree when it's been discussed in the media, never by anyone I know. It will always be a Christmas Tree to me.

kc bob said...

"For me, it's not either/or. It's both."

I agree Brian. Good stuff.

Brian said...

Fascinating verse, Mike. Thanks for sharing it.

Thanks, Bob.

Roxie Russell said...

Did u read my Facebook post today or what. Amen & thanks! It needs to be said.

Don said...

Glad you wrote this one before I did. Saved me some time.............Thanks!

Denise said...

Nice points here! I say "Happy Holidays" sometimes because I think of the holiday season encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and, increasingly, Halloween!