For almost a decade now I’ve written an article around this time about some atheist who wants to ignite the “War on Christmas” by preventing a nativity scene being set up or a sign with the word “Christmas” being propped up. Usually, it’s one isolated person supposedly representing a group of offended people in a few different areas, but according to the New York Times, people, in general are starting to view Christmas as less of a religious holiday and more of a secular holiday. Christmas was one way that the left and the right could celebrate something together under a mutual faith. Celebrating Christmas as a remembrance of the birth of Christ was the great unifying belief among the Christian Left and the Christian Right.
According to the New York Times, a Pew Research Center study, “based on interviews conducted in recent weeks with 1,503 adults, found that while a vast majority of Americans still celebrate Christmas, most find the religious elements of the holiday are emphasized less than in the past — and few of them care about that change. Like much else in the United States, a strong partisan divide runs through the survey results, with responses from Republicans seeming to place an emphasis on religion and those from Democrats on secularism.”
Since Christianity is constantly under attack in America, being called a “fairy tale” or a flat-out destructive lie by many intellectuals such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, it was only a matter of time before people felt ashamed to partake in the religious part of the season by celebrating the birth of Jesus. Many times, the argument is that our country looks ridiculous believing ancient stories with supernatural elements. But if you take the Christ out of Christmas, what exactly are we celebrating? Magical reindeer? Talking snowmen? Absurd invisible toy shops that function one night a year? Without Christ at the cultural, historical and spiritual center of the holiday, what’s left is something as emotionally satisfying as a Christmas cookie.
The history of the first celebration associating Jesus and Christmas on Dec. 25 was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. History records that a few years later Pope Julius I officially declared the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December.
Associating Christ and the holiday is not a modern creation. There is a deep cultural significance and tradition in this.
The New York Times reported that the Pew study compared and contrasted the past few years, with sad results:
“In 2013, 86 percent of celebrants said they would spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with loved ones, and 54 percent said they would attend a religious service. That declined in 2017 to 82 percent who said they would spend the holiday with family or friends and 51 percent who said they planned to attend a religious service.”
One could argue that with fewer attending church, fewer would see the significance in celebrating the Christian story of a miraculous birth in a manger, a bright navigation star, wise men and the shepherds who left their flocks to worship the newborn king. While the God of the universe didn’t need spectacle and pomp and circumstance on the day Jesus was born, the humblest of origin stories, Americans need it to maintain the Judeo-Christian values we have built our society on.
Too often we forget that our goodness as a country stems from our cultural Christian background. Maybe the reason that we never fell into fascism during the Great Depression, as Germany did, was because we maintained our faith. Maybe the reason we fought the Cold War the way we did was because we called evil what it was.
What makes our country great is that our values are about putting others first. We don’t stampede on others’ freedoms for our own gain. We help each other. Being American means loving our neighbors.
If we take the emphasis off Christ during Christmas, we will have no choice but to put it on ourselves. That is the absolute opposite of what Christmas is about; and if we don’t watch ourselves, we’ll find that we won’t remember who we are either.