Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas - What's in a Name?

I love good literature, and for that reason, I am on several discussion boards to discuss writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien . I was somewhat bemused that when people began to post their holiday greeting between December 21 and 25, 2007, the posts all had titles like:

Happy Yule to All!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Hogswatch Night

Happy Solstice

In fact, I was the only person on two such lists to wish my fellow Tolkien and Lewis enthusiasts a Merry Christmas!

The yule was a Germanic festival featuring a sacrificial feast some time in late December to early January on a date determined by the Germanic lunar calendar. The winter solstice is an actual astronomical event which occurs between December 20 and December 23 each year in the northern hemisphere. Hogswatch is a fictional holiday occuring on Dec, 31 and Dec. 32. None of them has anything to do with the celebration on December 25 which is known as Christmas unless the yule actually falls on December 25 by coincidence some year.

The bard, Shakespeare, once asked the pertinent question: what's in a name? The holiday has a name - it's Christmas. When did it become necessary to completely remove Christmas from holiday greetings, especially on discussion boards for authors who were Christians?

I am not one of those who believes Jesus the Christ was born exactly on December 25, so I don't personally get into singing "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" on December 25. But the Baby was born, and the early church redeemed a couple of pagan celebrations and turned them into an annual day of remembrance for the night Jesus was born, calling it a "holy day," and naming a mass after the Christ child. Thus was born one of the major holy days/holidays of the Christian calendar - Christmas.

When did it become OK to forget what made the holiday a holy day? When did we decide as a society it was OK to take Christ out of Christmas?

President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in the United States back in 1870. However, by the time I was born almost 100 years later, there was already a major push by atheists to remove God and Christ from everything from our coins to our pledge. My parents' generation was made of sterner stuff and didn't cave under pressure. But somewhere along the line the next generation began to lose the battle. Perhaps the attacks, which originally were blatant attacks, became sneakier as it became more and more politically correct to talk about including everyone, not leaving anyone out, not "offending" people with lighting Christmas trees and placing manger scenes, etc. Recently, some retail stores made the news by demanding employees NOT wish customers a "Merry Christmas." Manger scenes are banned from city property in many cities for fear of offending other religions or the non-religious, and Christmas trees are now frequently called holiday trees.

So, when did we as a society actually make the brilliant decision to leave Christ completely out of Christmas? Given a choice, have we as Americans really decided we will let the dictates and petty agendas of foreigners and special interest groups cause us to eliminate Christ from the Christmas equation?

Chanukah and Ramadan are also celebrated respectfully here in America. In Israel, however, Hashanah, Succot, Passover and Chanukah are national holidays. In Muslim countries, Ramadan is a public holiday. Here in America, a nation founded by Christians where Christianity is still the major religion, we celebrate Christmas as a national holiday, and people of other faiths are welcome and free to observe the day as they see fit.

I have no problem with calling the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day "the Holidays" as that period includes so many holidays, but the period right around December 25 has a name - it's Christmas! People who bend over backwards to accommodate every special interest group out there not only end up looking spineless as they been further and further backwards, but they also look pretty ridiculous. And if they bend any further backwards they will soon tip over and end up kneeling in front of the alter of political correctness, giving up true Divinity for a god made of human hands. This has already happened once before in the day of Moses, and it didn't end well for those who chose the golden calf over the Living God.

Christmas has become a litmus test for our society, whether December 25 was the actual birthday of the Christ child or not. Whose day will you choose celebrate on December 25 - a day dedicated to God born in the flesh to live, die and be resurrected among us, or a day dedicated to political correctness? Christ makes the day a holy day. Christ gives the day its name. So when you are wishing folks well around December 25, remember - it's not the yule, the solstice, or any other holiday we celebrate then. The holy day has a name - it's CHRISTmas!

So from my house to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

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