It’s that time of year again. This is the time when those representing the 70% of the population in the U.S. start complaining about businesses, government, and individuals who decide to say, “Happy Holidays!”, instead of “Merry Christmas!”. The fact that businesses have decided that they wish to cater to ALL of their potential customers (you know, other 30% of us), instead of just the 70% who identify as Christians seems to escape them. But even ignoring the good business sense to include everyone, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the Holidays, instead of just Christmas.
At this time of year we find Hanukkah and Kwanza, two very important religious and culturally important celebrations that fall this time of year. The most important celebration that falls this time of year, though, is the Winter Solstice. This has been celebrated for thousands upon thousands of years by cultures throughout northern hemisphere.
Yule its self is of Nordic-germanic roots, but winter festivals were common throughout Europe. In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar in his Julian calendar established December 25 as the date of the winter solstice of Europe. This date was adopted by the Catholic Church as the day for the Feast of the Christ, or Christmas. Almost all of the things we associate with Christmas celebrations are derived from pagan customs, including decorating trees and gift giving.
Even the Bible story of the Virgin Birth has its roots in much older traditions. As the irreverent graphic above points out, the idea of a god/savior being born to a virgin is not at all uniquely Christian.
It is proper, therefore, to celebrate the “Holidays”. If these crying Christians wish to celebrate Christmas exclusively, that is perfectly fine, but please don’t try to tell me that I can’t celebrate Yule, the Winter Solstice, or any other holiday I want to this time of year. I mean, come on now, lighten up and have a cup of nog!
– Much thanks to Varun Sankhe for the graphics!