Stratford Gazette editorial
Batten down the hatches! There’s a war on Christmas going on! At least, that’s what Fox News would have us believe. Atheists are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas! Our value system is in danger! Santa’s a white man and always has been!
But is there really a war on Christmas? In stores all over Stratford you hear Christmas carols playing. Storefronts are draped in holly and no one seems to be overly concerned about it. Maybe some baristas are getting a little sick of hearing about Amy Grant’s Grown-up Christmas List, but that’s about it.
Who really gets offended about Christmas? Instances of people being genuinely vexed by the holiday appear to be rare and isolated. Granted, government institutions try to remain secular, as they’re not to appear in favor of one belief system over another, and rightly so. But what kind of person walks around getting offended by other people’s festivities? Likely the same kind of person who gets irked by displays of Eid, Diwali, or Chinese New Year celebrations: In short, Grinches and Scrooges.
On the topic of secularism, even the most nonclerical aspects of Christmas have religious roots. Happy Holidays? The word “holidays” is derived from “holy days.” Not so secular.
Santa Claus? He’s an amalgamation of a Norse pagan god and a Christian saint from Turkey. That’s pretty religious. His eight tiny reindeer? Derived from Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
Evergreen boughs? A carryover from the Roman festival of Saturnalia celebrating the deity Saturn. Mistletoe? Ancient Celtic sacred plant and aphrodisiac, hence its sexy modern connotations.
Even the time of year shares a special place in cultures all over the world due to its proximity to the winter solstice. Any culture that gazed at the stars held what we now call late December in high regard.
So it’s sort of a waste of time to try and take all the religious aspects out of Christmas. You’re best just to leave it alone. After all, it’s a fun time of year.
It’s likely that a lot more people get up in arms about defending Christmas than want to see it suppressed. Christmas, above all else, is subjective.
Celebrate it anyway you’d want to: religiously, secularly, festively, or not at all.
After all, that’s what our Charter-guaranteed freedoms of religion, expression, thought, and belief are all about.