So while I’m on the subject of Christmas, and essentially defending the holiday, I may as well embrace a new tradition of the invented holiday Festivus, and air a bit of a grievance.
I can appreciate Christians out there wanting to embrace diversity and respect people of other religions. “Happy Holidays” is pretty appropriate, I suppose, but let’s review a few things.
1) Not every religion has a major winter celebration. It isn’t fair to expect all other religions to celebrate, accommodate, or invent a holiday to satisfy this assumption. Chanukah, for example, is a relatively minor Jewish holiday (and for that matter, Christmas is a relatively minor Christian holiday, at least theologically). Now, I get that as an American, Christianity is the dominant and default religion, and I don’t fault Christians for not thinking too far past their own constructs, but do we really have to deal with the expectation that every religion will have its own winter holiday that is in some way Christmas-like? Why not just celebrate Christmas in addition to one’s own holiday?
For that matter, pagans need to stop the annoying “all holidays started as ours” nonsense. Most modern neopagans follow a “Celtic wheel” that isn’t Celtic, and is less than a hundred years old. Let people do their own thing, and don’t begrudge them too much of their traditions have a common ancestry as yours.
2) I’ve seen a lot of postings on the interwebz from Christians wishing me a Happy Yule. I’m Roman: I don’t celebrate Yule, I celebrate Sol Invictus. (I celebrate Saturnalia, too but that isn’t a solstice holiday.) And Yule was four days ago. Chanukah ended about a week ago. So you’re not really wishing me a happy Yule, or our Jewish friends a happy Chanukah — you’re wishing us a Merry Christmas in terms you think won’t offend us.
Now, I recognize that there are people who are bitter enough to get upset over any attempt to wish someone well at any time associate with a Christian holiday. I ain’t one of them. If it’s Christmas, wish me a Merry Christmas. If someone says they aren’t Christian, then apologize. If you know for a fact that they are Jewish, or Wiccan, or whatever, wish them a happy whatever holiday you know they observe. But do it during the appropriate holiday, not on the day of your own.
3) Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday. Yeah, I went there. It’s a political statement, and a pretty racist one at its core, as it assumes that all Africans have a monolithic culture and religion. It’s basically a cheap rip-off of Chanukah mixed very heavily with pan-Africanism and black nationalism. And outside of the US, it is pretty widely mocked.
4) Christmas is very much about family, friends, and generosity. If your non-Christian friends don’t want to have anything to do with it, don’t pester them about it. If they’re okay with it, then invite them. Just don’t pressure them to convert or join in prayers or whatnot. Celebrate their friendship instead, for I’m sure Jesus would want you to could even non-Christian friends as blessings.
5) The “War on Christmas” crap has to stop. The Christians who are convinced that anyone who doesn’t spend a month in a Santa suit screaming “Merry Christmas!” is a godless atheist trying to stamp out all holiday cheer need to shut up. So do the pagans and atheists who threaten to sue the evil Xtian next door with the manger set on his front lawn, or the old lady at the store who wished them a Merry Christmas. Nobody want to have Bill O’Reily rant about the War on Christmas for another year, but likewise, we need to stop egging him on. I know people don’t want to hear me say it, but Christianity is the dominant religion, and just as we don’t want to be forced to participate in Christmas cheer, we shouldn’t expect Christians to stop celebrating their holiday. Christians need to be more flexible, and pagans need to be more vocal, but that shouldn’t involve either side shutting the other side up.
6) If someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas, of any other holiday, leave them be. Don’t feel compelled to guilt people into coming over because it’s not right for someone to be alone on Christmas. Some people like it that way, and just want to enjoy the day off and watch Die Hard and have a beer by themselves. Respect that.
7) Quit bitching about people working on Christmas. Guess what? They wouldn’t need to work on Christmas if there weren’t people demanding to go shopping or buy cheap Chinese crap on Christmas. And maybe they don’t celebrate Christmas, or maybe they just need the money. Times are tough, and you can’t fault someone for taking advantage of an opportunity to provide for their families because you think your god might object.
8) Do your own thing, Christians, and let us do ours. That’s all we ask. Happy Birthday to Jesus. I hope you got him something nice.