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Merry Christmas?

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

There are various topics which the more conservative members of society like to spend time complaining about. Some of them are genuine issues and others are primarily invented issues which seem to be designed just to provide an excuse to cause trouble.

Around this time of year there is one which is almost certain to appear in conservative emails lists and discussion forums. It’s the old issue of what the name of the celebration which occurs at this time should be. Traditionally it has been called Christmas, of course, and that is the name most people use, but the conservatives seem to be under the illusion that there is a conspiracy to remove Christmas from our modern vocabulary, presumably to deny the Christian element associated with it.

So there are stories circulating saying that the US president has demanded that traditional Christmas symbols should be banned from the White House (untrue) or that liberal politicians are working secretly to remove Christmas as an official holiday (untrue) or that various other seemingly outrageous acts are happening (all of which are untrue as far as I know).

And these same people seem to get extremely upset if other people use alternative greetings such as “happy holidays” instead of the traditional greeting “Merry Christmas”. But I have never yet come across anyone with more liberal attitudes who really cares. For example, I use several different versions of the greeting and I accept them all from others without any problems. So it’s only the conservatives who seem to be even making a fuss about this!

The fact is that the word Christmas has clear Christian connections but the actual event has lost that meaning in many places and for many people so that it has become a more generic holiday. Surveys have indicated that people see Christmas as a time to take a break from work, or to eat and drink a lot, or to spend time with friends and family, but far fewer think of it primarily in the religious sense.

And as I have pointed out on many occasions, the celebration of Christmas comes originally from solstice celebrations and the Christian meaning was just used in place of much older pagan ones. So whether this time of year represents a celebration of mid (southern) summer, or the end of the year, or of the alleged birth of some religious figure it doesn’t really matter.

While I would prefer to use the term “solstice” instead of Christmas I understand that most people wouldn’t know what I’m talking about and I am happy to continue using the traditional word instead because let’s get real and admit that Christianity was a very important part of the history of western civilisation.

So use merry Christmas, or happy holidays, or sunny solstice or whatever. It’s all fine with me. And to all of those grumpy old conservatives out there: get over it!

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