The fact that people want other holidays recognized (like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) or the fact that some don't celebrate the holiday at all rubs a subset of “Christians” the wrong way. They have dubbed this and other "grinch"-like behavior as part of the "War of Christmas." If you've read the other posts, you know why this is funny. People are fighting to "preserve" a holiday that is already tainted. In fact, this is what makes the devil's treachery all the more obvious.
Origins and History
WASP stands for white Anglo Saxon Protestant, usually in reference to those who are in positions of power and belong to the upper class of the United States. Up until recent history they basically controlled everything in the US and it is this group that popularized the idea that there was a war on Christmas. Of course, it’s not only white upperclass society that is holding on to this pagan holiday with an iron grip, many Christians get caught up this wave.
Most people I’ve spoken to from older generations think the US is a Christian nation—an argument used heavily in the Republican party, Evangelical Christianity, and Christian Nationalists. There are actually two concepts mangled together that lead people to this conclusion.
In most countries, there is an official religion. For instance, the official religion of England is The Church of England (a branch of Christianity). Similarly, the official religion of Morocco is Islam. In these countries there are people of other faiths, but the government officially recognizes, and thus caters to, a particular religion. Usually in places like this, the majority of the population practices that religion.
Examples people have given to support the idea that there is a war on Christmas
- Starbucks changed their “Christmas” cup, removing the symbols from it
- Schools moved away from Christmas celebrations to holiday celebrations
- Retail stores switching from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”
Despite people arguing that the founding fathers were deists and not actually Christian, the truth is most people who colonized the US were protestants and up until recently the majority of US citizens identified as Christians. When the constitution was penned and separation of Church and State was introduced, it was in reaction to the persecution of Protestants by the Roman Catholic Church. Some people believe this provision was meant to be for Christians only, but I disagree—the founding families where aware that Catholics treated Protestant, Atheists, and other religious adherents all the same. It didn’t matter what the disagreement was or how much you agreed elsewhere, disagreeing with the Roman Catholic Church was grounds for death. Separation of Church and State was meant to remove the possibility of the government forcing religion on its citizens the way the Roman Catholic Church had bee doing for centuries. This meant allowing atheism, agnosticism, deism, and all of the other religion -isms that came to the country in the centuries to come. As such, there is no official religion of the United States. Nonetheless, people often see the history of the country as grounds to say it is a Christian nation and try to force that definition on society. This in itself is probably worthy of a blog post all its own.
Let’s pretend for a second that the US was officially a Christian nation and that separation of Church and State simply meant the government couldn’t tell you which denomination to follow. Not all denominations celebrate Christmas…
Trying Not to Looking Rude
As a child I never gave much thought to how those who didn't celebrate Christmas must feel... It wasn't my problem. However, as my wariness about the Christmas season grew from suspicion to confirmation, I started to see what Jesus was talking about when He said believers would be persecuted for His name sake and I started to see how those from other faiths feel during the season.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Religious or not, stores decorate their show rooms and aisles for Christmas as early as November 1. TV stations play holiday specials—whether it be "The Nativity" or "Frosty the Snowman," they play up the holiday spirit. ABC Family has the "25 Days of Christmas;" Disney has "Fa La La Lidays." When you go to the stores, people will say Merry Christmas; almost everyone who calls says Merry Christmas. I even received random text messages from people I haven't spoken to all year that said nothing but Merry Christmas.
If you don't return the gesture, people call you a grinch and declare that you are rude.
Even before I researched the origin of the word Christmas and the phrase "Merry Christmas," I didn't understand the drama of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays. I was of the mindset that people should be happy you said anything at all and get over it. There are other holidays, so I understood why people were generic. I also understand that if I'm a Christian or Jewish or atheist, I may not want to indorse something I don't believe in. As a Christian who knows the true origins of the Christmas holiday I see even more about how complex this issue is.
As the holidays rolled around, my newfound awareness of the etymology of the word Christmas (and the possibility that it may mean something more sinister) led me to strike the phrase out out of my vocabulary. Yet, everywhere I turned were people with no clue about the pagan origins of the holiday or the possible negative origin of the word. Those people were just being nice. That's the interesting thing about prophecy and the way the devil works.
And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
I didn't want to be rude, after all, in their mind they were being friendly. Furthermore it is quite the long story to explain to someone that yes you are a Christian but no you don't celebrate Christmas. Many will consider you a heathen (or Jehovah's Witness). People will not comprehend your point in a few measly sentences and likely, they don't care. They didn't come to you for information on the holiday and are not seeking information because the Spirit has not moved them to do so. Salesclerks are merely doing their jobs and don't want a sermon when there are 50 other customers behind you. Your distant relatives, who are probably much older than you and thus assume themselves wiser, will believe you've lost your grounding. They will be upset that they bought you gifts but you do not buy them gifts. In my case, my mother was upset that I would not help her set up my grandfather's Christmas tree.
Do you see how easy it is for the devil to spin these things to make the masses hate Bible following Christians (remember Jesus is the Word)? Imagine, my mother telling people that all my grandfather wanted for Christmas was for me to help him put up a tree and I wouldn't even do that. How cruel would I sound? But I had just left my grandfather's house when my mother suggested we go back (i.e. I was still spending time with him), and that Christmas tree is contrary to what Jesus wants from us. The devil will sweep those details under the rug and focus attention on me refusing to help my grandfather (who ironically, didn't want the tree anyway which made my mom even more angry). When we don't return the "Merry Christmas" cashiers offer, we appear grumpy and rude. Yet, if we stop to explain it to them, we are holding up the line and irritating. I've found that many people don't want to know the truth, they're content with life the way it is and they don't want to give up anything or work any harder, not even for God.
The Christmas Season
So, now that you've done your best not to agitate anyone (though you've probably ruffled a few feathers) and made it home to your private sanctuary, you kick your feet back and try to relax by watching TV but everything that is on is Christmas themed. Every show and character ever created seems to have a version of A Christmas Carol and every channel is playing one of these variations. I remember looking at the TV this year thinking sarcastically, "yes, let us combine pagan traditions plus forbidden communication with the dead and proclaim this the "true meaning of Christmas," then go back to trying to convince people that Jesus is the reason for the season..." You cannot get away from it! Even if you turn the TV off, people call and people text. Family members become angry that you don't celebrate the way they do and that you don't want to go to their celebration. Officemates will be upset that you won't participate in secret Santa or attend the Christmas party. The fact that you won't turn your beliefs on and off for them will get you labeled everything from intolerant to stiff and from rude to crazy. This is one way to know that prophecy is fulfilling itself—if you are not following the masses and wondering after the beast, you will be ostracized.
9 When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. 13 Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.
A Ray of Hope?
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
God already knows that we might have to ruffle a few feathers to worship Him. The Bible warns of familial ties leading us astray in many passages (men of God were not to marry daughters of pagans, and everyone was to be equally yoked). In Matthew 10:37, Jesus reminds us of the people who have the most power to influence us. While my parents may not understand everything I say, and my mom seems completely uninteresting in following along, they are generally supportive (for the first time in my life, my mom didn't fuss at me to do work on Saturday when I visited). Not everyone will be so lucky. Some will be forced to severe ties to those closest to them.
Jesus' quote sounds harsh without context, but even on first reading, I understood what He meant. Your parents, spouse, and family can easily suck you down the hole of paganism—and a lot of other things. They will quickly have you carving the ham and passing out presents, maybe because they will taunt or persecute you for doing otherwise but likely because nostalgia and fitting in with our family is embedded in us. Are you willing to walk away from Jesus to satisfy these people? If so, you love them more than you love Him, yet we are supposed to love God most.
Other Posts in this Series
References & Footnotes
- Neal Conan and Jaime Johnson. “The Death of WASP Culture”. NPR. August 19, 2008; visited October 2022
- The term “Evangelical Christianity” bothers me so much. Evangelical literally means “of or according to the teachings in the Gospels.” Technically all believers should be evangelical. It became associated with protestantism in general. Today, however, this term is applied to a subset of Christians and really more-so applies to persona people have applied to them. I see people identify others as Evangelical even if the person doesn’t identify as Evangelical. Quite frankly, I don’t think the word has a real meaning anymore. Nonetheless I used it here because most people would label the Christians who bemoan a war on Christmas as Evangelical, even though this isn’t necessarily a tenant of Evangelical Christianity or even limited to those who identify as Evangelical.
- “Parliament, Church, and Religion”. UK Parliament; visited October 2022
- “What Faiths Are Represented in the UK”. British Council; visited October 2022
- Office of International Religious Freedom. “Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom”. 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom: Morocco. June 2, 2022