Please Stop Fighting About Christmas

by | Dec 15, 2010 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

It’s bad enough that rabid secularists hate Christmas.
It’s downright tragic that some Christian purists judge others for celebrating
the holiday.

Two
weeks ago when I wrote about how God worked in the lives of people in the biblical
Christmas story, several readers jumped in to remind me that the modern
celebration of Christmas is a pagan holiday that is luring unsuspecting,
gift-giving revelers into hell itself. One person who identified himself as
“Albert” wrote in our online forum that he “isn’t comfortable celebrating
Christmas” because of its demonic origins.

You
probably know there are many Christians who boycott Christmas for various
reasons—some factual and some quite debatable. These people insist:

*
The holiday has become too commercialized and promotes greed. (I would agree.)

*No
one knows when Jesus was born. (True—and the Bible is silent about the date.
However, “Albert” and other anti-Christmas purists insist Jesus was born on
Sept. 11, in 3 B.C., during Rosh Hoshanna.)

“I unashamedly love Christmas. I love the trees, the ornaments, the lights, the smells, the foods, the music, the gifts and the family and friends who share the celebration with me.”

*
The Dec. 25 date was chosen to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient winter solstice festival. (Probably
true—but is there anything wrong with Christianizing something? I’m glad a
pagan celebration was replaced.)

*
Christmas trees are a pagan tradition, since Druids believed evergreen boughs
were magical and had the power to scare away demons. (“Thursday” is also named
for the Norse god Thor, but that doesn’t mean I worship him when I use the
word.)

*
Dec. 25 is the birthday of Nimrod, who later became known as the pagan god
Baal, who later became known as Nicolas, who later became known as Santa Claus.
For this reason, we can be sure that demons lurk behind all wreaths, candles,
ornaments, fruitcakes, sleighs or anyone dressed in red and green. (I knew
there was something weird about fruitcake!)

In all fairness to these Christmas critics, I must admit I
never led my children to believe in Santa Claus. This was not because I was
afraid he was Baal, Nimrod or an ancient Turkish bishop in disguise, but
because (1) I felt I would be lying to my kids if I told them Santa brought
them gifts; (2) I hate standing in lines at department stores; and (3) the
prospect of inviting a strange old man into my house so he can “check” on my
sleeping daughters is downright creepy.

But
I unashamedly love Christmas. I love the trees, the ornaments, the lights, the
smells, the foods, the music, the gifts and the family and friends who share
the celebration with me. All the decorations point me to Jesus—from the bells
on the front porch to the angel on top of the tree to the plastic manger scene
that shows some wear (mainly because our dog, Flapjack, chewed one of the
shepherds in 1996.) For me, Christmas is a wondrous time of year when I ponder
the miracle of Christ’s birth and, hopefully, get lots of chances to share his
generous love with people who are less fortunate than I am.

People
have been fighting about Christmas for a long, long time. Christmas gift-giving
was condemned by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages because of the
pagan origins of the holiday. Then, anti-Catholic Puritans declared war on
Christmas in England and banned it from 1647 to 1660, calling it “a popish
festival with no justification.” In the United States, Puritans outlawed
Christmas in Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681, and it was an unpopular holiday
after the Revolutionary War because Americans associated it with England.

Christmas
became a federal holiday in 1870, long before the American Civil Liberties
Union was there to stop it. Yet today, in spite of the fact that Christmas, for
many people, has morphed into a meaningless mush of secularized snowflakes,
reindeer, penguins, gift cards and year-end sales, the Scrooges of our day want
to suck all the remaining Christian spirituality out of it.

I
expect atheists to hate Christmas. I know they will try to ban nativity scenes
from public parks, or remove Christmas carols from classrooms. But it is
downright tragic when Christians—who should welcome every opportunity to bring
the miracle of Jesus’ incarnation into public life—start bah-humbugging (or
even demonizing) the holiday.

Keep
Christmas in your own way, by all means. If it is offensive to you to hang
mistletoe from your mantle or to send a Christmas card to friends, then don’t.
I won’t judge you for that. But please don’t judge other believers simply
because they want to celebrate all that is pure and decent and meaningful in
this special time of year.

P.S.
— Merry Christmas!

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady

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