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The “War On Christmas”: It’s Baaack! 16 Nov 2007

Posted by Jessa in Religion.

Bill O’Reilly is at it again this year railing against the supposed “War on Christmas”. The focus of a recent tirade were the recommendations of the Holiday Display Task Force of Fort Collins, CO regarding display of religious symbols on public property.

One of the suggestions was to use white lights rather than colored ones for decoration. This was a particular target of ire for O’Reilly’s guest, Dan Caplis:

You have this arrogant minority that wants to go to the point of stripping away Christmas trees and colored lights. I mean, this sounds like something out of the old Soviet Union.

Setting aside the mistaken statement that Christmas trees are banned (they’re not), it’s a truly amusing statement. Colored lights make Baby Jesus happy, and only godless commie pinko bastards use white lights. I had no idea that God was so picky about decorations.

But let’s look at the statement more closely. The implication is that Christmas is not as much about celebrating the birth of Jesus as it is about having the right decorations. So maybe the biggest culprit in the secularization of Christmas is Madison Avenue. From November 1st onward, we are bombarded with advertisements showing us what we should do to have the perfect Christmas. We must decorate profusely (preferably with a theme so that we have to buy new stuff every year). We have to find the perfect gift for everyone we know. We have to buy new clothes to wear to parties. The Christmas meal must be so fabulous that people will talk about it for months. But we can’t eat too much because we are concerned about those extra holiday pounds. Oh, and don’t forget the family cards, the travel, and the rushing around at work so that you won’t get too far behind while you’re on vacation. And if you don’t do all of it just right, everything is ruined.

Notice anything? None of it has anything at all to do with the religious aspect of Christmas. In fact, most of the traditions we now associate with Christmas (including those that are so loved by O’Reilly and his ilk) did not have anything to do with Christianity until the Church co-opted them from pagan celebrations that also occur around the winter solstice. This is why many non-Christians (including atheists) have no problem with decorating a tree.

So if you want to fight back in this “war”, you can start by refusing to buy into the hype. Stop digging yourself into debt buying crap for everyone. Stop obsessing about the fact that your neighbor’s house has more lights on it than yours does. Don’t panic if things aren’t exactly perfect. And for Pete’s sake, don’t have a coronary if someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. There are much bigger problems in the world.



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