A Brief History of the War on Christmas

Holy hell with this.

This is the same inane argument I hear every time someone points out that the Mohawk people adoped Christianity as their dominant religion. When you are being persecuted and your communities literally erased for believing/practicing something other than christianity, you better believe that you right-quick learn to “integrate” with your conquerors to stay alive.

While the modern era has made it possible (in freer parts of the world) to worship or not as you choose, the idea that pagans or aboriginal cultures integrated christ into their holidays as part of an “exchange” rather than because not doing so was an existential crisis is part of why, to this day, minority cultures have such a fucking hard time having their holidays recognized in the first place.

ETA: D’Oh! Ninja’d by @Mindysan33 - sorry for talking around you!


If they get mad at you for wishing them Happy Holidays, then just turn around and say “Well, then I hope you can just have Really Shitty Holidays then”


I thought the whole point of “happy holidays” was that it WAS non-denominational/non-religious, as a neutral alternative to 'happy christmas"

ETA I probably misconstrued slightly the original intent of your comment. But mine stands, anyway.


And let us not forget that it was Constantine that decided co-opting the pagan winter rites would make forced ‘conversion’ easier.

Person of privilege says “exchange and blending”: I hear sugar coating and whitewashing of unpleasant history.


I’ve said “tacky kitschmas” since I was a teenager. I felt it was more reflective of the reality of the holiday.


All this!

That’s the only thing I did not like about the article I posted… the last line, where he talks about how the violent conversion ended with Protestant Evangelical Christianity, as if white Protestant Christians weren’t very much part and parcel of the violence visited upon Native American and First Nations peoples! It’s kind of clear the guy is also trying to pin the blame on Catholics, when it’s a problem with many Christian denominations (not all, obviously). That Christian zeal for using force to convert very much was part of that process here in North America! How many Native kids were taken from their homes, converted to Christianity, and stripped of their cultural heritage, up to very, very recently? That’s not acts of genocidal violence justified by religion?





I think it was always the case the most people don’t really believe, in the fervent sense, whatever religion they practice, they just follow the cultural norms. If it’s holiday season, they’re going to decorate in whatever the current style is, have the currently in-style get-to-gethers and parties, etc. So, Ancient Celts brought in evergreen branches for the winter solstice, because that was what people did when winter arrives. And now people still bring evergreens into their homes around winter solstice, because that’s what people do when winter arrives. Most people don’t care why. It’s just how people celebrate the season.

I’ve known plenty of athiests who have xmas trees. I’ve known Jewish people who have a christmas tree and a santa inflatable outside. Maybe right next to the inflatable Menorah. I’m not a christian, and I’ve got a tree. Even say “merry chrismas” to people (or rather, I did in previous years when it was safe to leave the house and go out amonst other people)

To me (personally), its solstice time, and we do solstice season things. Doesn’t mean it’s for religious reasons at all.


Christmas functions perfectly well as a secular holiday. Ignoring corporate greed and commercialism, it has themes of peace, kindness and generosity. Christian extremists should be proud that it is so widely celebrated, but instead they want to use it to divide people. If someone gets mad about someone saying Happy Holidays or are using the term Merry Christmas as an attack, that’s a shitty person.


“Spiritual harassment.” Because you’re born with your spiritual beliefs and you have no hope of changing them when offered new, more accurate data.

1 Like

I call it the warification of Christmas. They are fighting an offensive war on Happy Holidays and winning. I used to say Happy Holidays but after so many Jrinchus got offended I just stopped. They won. Their echo chamber walls blocked me out.

Is this one of those carnival games where if you can throw a baseball through a windowpane you can pick your prize from the lawn?


I see the adherents of that rather peculiar faith have integrated the pagan bear god Winnie into their core doctrine.


Ironic they celebrate the birth of ‘The King Of Jews’.


Well I wasn’t talking about just the merging of European Pagan holidays/traditions. Many of the early holidays in the church, before it was made Rome’s official religion, were based on existing holidays. The newly forming religion was adapting current traditions into something new.

But as far as European Pagan traditions, I agree it isn’t an equal exchange, and absolutely much of it was due to conquest, but the creation of new traditions was their adaptation to the new rulers and religions that allowed them to retain some cultural identity. You’re right it often wasn’t a willing adaptation.

Many times, these old ways incorporated into the new beliefs was to the chagrin of the Church. My point was they didn’t “steal” the idea of a Christmas tree because they thought it would be a great new thing to add, they begrudgingly adopted it because it smoothed things along. Eventually became entrenched as a “Christian” tradition in parts of the world, with the original meaning being nearly forgotten. But it was still kept alive. Just like many other religious traditions are still kept alive by people who aren’t religious.

I was mostly thinking about Rome and the parts of Europe where most of America’s Christmas traditions come from, which had a completely different experience than the Native Americans. Absolutely when it comes to American Natives, there wasn’t an exchange. They weren’t allowed to adapt or blend. They were segregated, relocated, and systematically “reeducated” . Unlike, Germanic and Scandinavian pagan winter/Christmas traditions which are still being practiced today (brought over by the immigrants who pushed out the Natives), most Native traditions are lost and/or not practiced.

1 Like

It was Christians who created the wholesome, family and Jesus oriented Christmas. The famous poem by Clement Moore (“Twas the night before Christmas…”) was part of a deliberate effort to dissuade people from celebrating Christmas the traditional way. In those days, the tradition was for laborers and servants to parade in the streets with “Calathumpian Orchestras” and as a mob demand booze and money from the well-to-do. It was kind of like Halloween, except no costumes, and the threat of a ‘trick’ was more menacing. I read about it in a delightful little book: https://www.amazon.com/Battle-Christmas-Cultural-History-Cherished/dp/0679740384


You’re on the spot. I was raised by Christians, but as an adult, I’ve come to doubt the sincerity of my parents’ beliefs. My father, at least, stopped going to church after the Catholic sex abuse cover-ups became public. When as a kid I would ask him theological questions, he would often answer “It’s a mystery!” with a who-gives-a-care? kind of tone. Many years later I had to work it out on my own.

I’m no longer a Christian or any kind of theist, but I still love Christmas!

So much this. The most recent battles in this long-running war tend to overlook what I call Christmas creep. What’s accepted in popular US culture gets defined (and redefined) by marketers. Of course folks on the right seem to have no problem with that.

When I was a kid, the start and end date were well-defined. We’d start decorating during the week before Christmas Eve, and celebrate until the Epiphany. This year, I heard retail employees grumbling about displays going up in early October. So, Christmas creep has now overlapped both Thanksgiving and Halloween.

A few years ago, a friend told me they put up her family’s first tree right after Thanksgiving. They have to buy three of them to last through the holiday now, which means farms get more business, too. Having linked the end of the holiday to the fiscal year, the push is to move on right after New Year’s Day (what we used to call the 8th day of Christmas). At this rate, in the future we’ll probably see Back to Christmas sales as the kids return to school.


Uh, yeah. Actually it is totally bigoted. It’s shockingly bigoted. Rudolph suffers constant abuse because he’s different. He is only seen to have value when he can be exploited for his talents. If that’s not bigoted, I don’t know what is.

But what a problematic yet popular film that came out 50 years ago has to do with a supposed “war on Christmas” I can’t tell you.


Could be… or santa puked on the lawn…

That’s doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of violent integration of European pagans into the faith.

And still converting people violently.

That’s the whole point, really.