For many people around the world, Christmas is an annual holiday with themes of gift-giving, celebration, bond time with the family, and mending relationships broken in the entire year. For Christians, it is celebrated because the day is when Jesus Christ was born — and for all the right reasons. Symbols are seen everywhere, from lighting trees, exchanging presents, building the snowman, singing tunes, kris kringles, the holiday shopping sales, Santa Claus, and all the story about St. Nicholas of the North Pole, candy canes, chocolates, family feasts, and more.
Christmas Day, which kicks off on the eve of December 25th, right at the arrival of midnight, has been commemorated across several cultures for centuries now. Did you ever know that this heart-warming season of the year does not go without its detractors? Wait, Christmas detractors?
What comes to your mind when you hear about this? Do you think of conspiracies, secrets, and controversies? You got that right. With all the merrymaking, those traditional tunes of sleigh bells ringing, and the joyous day mainly for children, as they say, come various controversies associated with this part of the year. In this piece, we are entering into the dark side of Christmas Day, and it might feel like the 31st of October, but here are the fascinating Christmas controversies that you should know. And with “controversies,” they are seriously going to tickle your brains.
The Christmas haters who want to end this holiday
A lot of you greet each other, “Merry Christmas!” with love and affection, and then there’s a hidden, smaller group of the society that celebrates it as “The War on Christmas.” These people do not view the special day as it is, but instead has the ulterior motive to end it because they want to reform it. It isn’t a religion, rather a tradition, but you get their point.
The first Christmas war was started by the Puritans, specifically from a 2005 book from radio host John Gibson who discussed this particular hatred for the day and “how the liberals plotted to ban the sacred Christian holiday.”
The issues do not end here. There are also groups who criticize Rudolph, yes the Red-Nosed Reindeer, revere a “Black Santa Claus,” give shade on the Christmas tree, sets of evidence associated with Jesus, and a grim Starbucks story that you don’t want to miss.
"War on Christmas" is more widespread than you can imagine
There have to be two sides in a war. You guessed that right again. The on-going Christmas war is battled on distinct fronts. On the one hand, you have the Puritans and the Republicans attacking the Liberals on “whitewashing Merry Christmas into Happy Holidays,” and think that the latter denies the presence of a Christian America.
On the other hand, devout believers and their religious organizations lamented the secularization of Christmas, saying that the holiday is now being blatantly transformed into a celebration of family values, too much consumerism, and “genial trappings” that distance the true meaning of the holiday, which is celebrating Christ’s birth.
The advocates of these wars also say that media have somewhat influenced the minds of people to distance themselves from pondering upon the life of Christ. Thus, the call to reform and to end the holiday.
“In a sense, the invention of Christmas was a power play, a religious contrivance and political machination instituted to shrewdly shift the masses from paganism to Christianity while minimizing the resistance that might arise out of wrenching away a beloved time of year,” writes Mike Mariani on Pacific Standard magazine.
Furthermore, some Puritans have already banned Christmas in New England because they say it is “too pagan.” Other critics say the holiday should not be celebrated because of its pagan roots and is not Christmas. Accounts reveal that around the same time the world celebrates Christmas, the ancient Romans would pay homage to Saturn, their agriculture god. The festival has been known as “Saturnalia” and is characterized by public parties, exchanging gifts, and singing in the streets. These groups who spearhead this campaign say that instead of honoring Jesus, it tends to accept instead paganism, which is a different belief.
“In other words, the early Roman Catholic Church did not so much appropriate the trappings and customs of Saturnalia as they simply stuck the flag of Christmas right in the middle of the festival’s perennial landscape, changing the underlying religion while leaving the coveted pomp and circumstance intact,” Mariani adds.
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is "problematic"
This Christmas war seems to sound like a very contemporary campaign. Historical accounts from the 17th century went in-depth by saying that the conflict even started as far as the 1600s. Puritans were supposed to rebel against King Charles I and succeeded. The new government with Puritan principles called to ban Christmas, believing that the holiday is a “heretical practical rooted in a pagan origin.” This is much similar to what current critics have to say. The Puritans from those parts of history opened shops in the holiday break, shut down churches, forbade Christmas expressions, and arrested priests for preaching about Christmas.
What could be crueler than creating a fire of issue upon one of the most famous symbols, well-loved by children, in the name of Rudolph? The red-nosed reindeer was once labeled “seriously problematic” and criticized for its appearance in the story. Usually, Rudolph will be on the sidelight compared to the limelight that Santa Claus enjoys. The reindeer would often and allegedly be the subject of Santa’s bullying, so the critics are also questioning this.
Jesus isn't born on Christmas Day
Perhaps you have heard of these arguments at one point, or maybe not. There are people, scholars of the Bible, even, who argued that Jesus Christ, the main reason behind the celebration of Christmas, wasn’t born on December 25th or Christmas Day. And they showed Biblical evidence to support their claims.
First, events and scenarios that surround the accounts of his birth in the Bible are said not to coincide with the usual activities that happen in the winter. For instance, according to a verse in the Bible (Luke 2:7-8), shepherds were watching the flocks during the time Christ was born. During the wintertime, these shepherds naturally should not be in the fields. It was likely these shepherds would seek shelter for their flocks in the winter, so they are not outdoors. They believe that Christ was born somewhere in summer or early fall.
Another passage in the same Biblical book states that Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register their child in the Roman census. If indeed Christ was born in the wintertime, they wouldn’t have gone to the count. No census happens in this season according to various accounts because of the cold weather.
Even Starbucks seems to bandwagon in the conversation
The removal of the word “Christmas” only to replace this with “Xmas” is said to be an expression of hatred for the Messiah. More people are informed about this. And when famous coffee chain Starbucks replaced “Christmas” on their cups to say “Merry Xmas” instead, Christians wanted to boycott buying from the coffee shop.
These are only among a few insider facts, rare ones that you can hear about, about Christmas Day. Behind all the happiness and celebration that happen during the season are communities that seem to feel uneasy about how the world perceives the final month of the year. Aside from the stories you’ve read, other controversies surrounding the holiday include:
- Black Pete
- The OCD Christmas sweater
- Yeti in spaghetti
- Harmful Christmas trees
The campaign grows
Is this alarming for you or not? Don’t forget to share your insights in the comments section below. Mainstream media should favor the elites and the businesses that invest their money every year to join the public in commemorating Christmas Day. So, if these anti-Christmas groups find a space in the media to air their views, it must be very minimal. The campaign spreads.
According to an article on How Stuff Works, there are a few people who cluck their tongues the moment they hear Christmas tunes play on the radio around mid-November or the time when stores start to launch their decors. These groups shout “it’s Christmas creep, railing against retailers” and a few others who seem to start it sooner than how they expect it.
But the merrymaking continues. Given these scenarios, more and more people are feeling the Christmas spirit, especially when the first snowfall arrives. Right after Thanksgiving, Americans shift to preparing for the Christmas season. Popular cities in the world like Singapore open up theme parks, Christmas villages, and tourist attractions filled with lights to welcome both young and old alike. There are various sales, deals, and packages offered in airlines and stores as a way of celebrating forgiveness, camaraderie, and happiness before the beginning of another year. So, which side are you?