Archive for December, 2011

Why Christmas Sucks

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , on December 23, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

For a holiday that’s supposed to be about coming together with the people you love, Christmas is certainly a holiday with much animosity and hatred.

On the one hand, there are the people who feel the need to engage in the annual “War on Christmas.” Not the people who actually attack Christmas, but the people who preemptively defend Christmas from those who attack it. The offensive defense comes in many forms, ranging from those who put reminders on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else they can remind people that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season™,” to the ultra-conservative types (especially those on Fox News) who get offended every time someone tries to be inclusive by wishing people “Happy Holidays.”

To be fair, calling a decoration a “Holiday Tree” is kind of stupid, but that may only be because I grew up in a Christian household and have always known it as a Christmas tree. However, there is nothing offensive about wishing someone a Happy Holidays, especially since Christmas isn’t the only holiday around this time of year. Before Christmas Eve, there are a few days of Hanukkah that are celebrated. Kwanzaa is also celebrated this time of year, and even though is was created fairly recently (the late 1960s), it’s still a nationally recognized holiday. And then, a week after all of these celebrations, there is the New Year. There are so many holidays all at the same time of the year that for many, myself included, it’s just easier to say “Happy Holidays.” It’s not being discriminatory or offensive, it’s being inclusive. Many times, I’ll just eschew the holiday greetings and just say “Have a nice day.” It’s so much simpler.

Sadly, for some, the most important thing about Christmas is urging people to not take the “Christ” out of Christmas, since it’s in danger of happening every year. Stores that wish people a Happy Holidays are contributing to the “evil” secularization of Christmas, a holiday that has become less about Jesus and more about consumerism with each passing year.

Which brings us to the polar opposite: those who urge people to remember that Christmas was stolen from a pagan winter solstice celebration, and that Jesus isn’t the Reason for the Season™ after all. These people are more than willing to remind everyone that there were other deities that also were “born” on December 25, and that decorations like trees, wreaths, and stockings all have secular origins and are thus proof that Christmas can’t possibly be a Christian holiday.

On a quick aside, as childish and antagonistic as this is, I sometimes wonder why the non-religious community feels the need to be so vocal about Christmas. The whole point of atheism as I understand it is to not believe in or acknowledge the existence of gods of any sort. It seems silly for me to deny the existence of deities, and then once a year embrace the celebration for personal gain. I understand that this doesn’t apply to ALL non-religious people, and I completely understand that it’s an uninformed statement that probably shouldn’t be included in the final cut of this post. But it’s not as stupid as a lot of other stuff out there, and actually is more supported than many of the other incendiary claims out there.

The big question is: Why does it matter? Who really cares what this time of year is called? Despite the big concern from most conservatives, December 25 is in no danger from being called something other than “Christmas.” There is no secular push to change the calendar and list this time of year as “Holiday,” despite the concerns of Real Americans™ (actual claim, skip to 1:50 in the clip).

December is the only holiday months where both extremes are equally pissed off and defensive for no good reason. The whole point of this season isn’t to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and it’s not about accumulating the most stuff. The point of the holiday season is the same point as every other holiday season: to appreciate and be thankful for the things that you have. Valentine’s Day doesn’t even have this much animosity and fighting despite there being two clear factions that both hate the holiday. Easter, another Jesus holiday, doesn’t have people making a huge deal about the Easter Bunny visiting the mall, co-opting the Reason for the Season™.

Not everything has to be political, and not everything needs to be a battle. Even militaries across the world have a cease fire around this time of year. Why can’t we do the same, and focus on each other as people instead of enemies?