Despite the dedicated efforts of the Global Atheist Conspiracy, it seems that the War on Christmas has been lost again this year since the holiday is scheduled to proceed without a hitch, store clerks still wish us a Merry Christmas, and just about every place that can be decorated with a Christmas motif, was decorated with one. It really is almost like there’s no sinister conspiracy to dismantle Christmas just to oppress Christians and an annual stream of sensationalistic half-truths and paranoia about the supposed secular crackdown on one of the biggest holidays of the year, is really a plea for ratings by pundits who want you to tune in rather than turn off the TV and spend more time with your family and wrapping presents. Oh right, that’s exactly what happens every year as those looking to be offended and claim oppression see the all-inclusive and cost-saving Happy Holidays moniker as an anti-religious plot rather than just getting into the holiday spirit of good will and calm reflection on the year that’s coming to a close. Holidays are a time to have fun rather than to look for fights.
Christmas may have started out as a planned celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth, which was attributed to old polytheistic traditions of celebrations of the winter solstice which ended the year for many ancient cultures. In today’s world, we’re well aware that if Jesus really was born two millennia ago just as the Bible says, he may have been born anywhere between mid-spring to early fall, but definitely not anywhere during the winter. Had he been born close to the solstice in Roman-ruled Judea, their Saturnalia parties would have certainly played some role in the narrative as the three wise men would’ve had to present their gifts as the Romans held their games and feasts in the background, right next door to where Jesus is said to have been born. We also know that many Christmas traditions like the decorated pine tree, the Yule log, and even the holiday feasts came to us from Norse and Mediterranean cultures which existed before and alongside Christianity, incorporated with the spread of the new religion over hundreds of years and allowed to exist side by side with Christmas for an easier time managing newly converted people with their own rich traditions and ancient heritages.
Over time, Christmas has become more of a secular holiday about family and presents than a pious event of just one religious movement, with the winter solstices caused by our planet’s axial tilt as the reason for some sort of celebration and us simply coming up with the appropriate one. And that’s perfectly ok. The whole point is to celebrate the passing year and have an excuse to slow down to spend more time with the people in your life. Whether your excuse is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Saturnalia, or the birthday of the other legendary figure said to born around the winter solstice of a virgin, the Persian deity Mithras, go for it. To waste your time frustrated about whether someone is pious enough about what was once a purely religious event and fighting culture wars over etiquette and which screaming head on TV is better than an uncannily similar loudmouth on another news channel just seems to miss the whole point of what this season has to offer. So let the culture warriors perpetually looking to be outraged and to feel threatened by those who are different have their annual politically religious aneurism. It’s their issue if their hearts skip a beat when they hear a “happy holidays.” We, the skeptics, secularists, and atheists, don’t have to play their games. We can, and should, just enjoy our time with friends and loved ones, swapping presents and decorating something to look festive.