Opinion: The ‘War on Christmas’ isn’t real. Get over it.


Brennan Mumper

This time of year, claims abound that there is a “war” on people’s right to celebrate Christmas.

Brennan Mumper, Staff Writer

Around the holidays, snowflakes are everywhere. They’re pinned in windows, sprinkled over sidewalks and hung cheerily in the branches of artificial trees.
Sometimes, they can even be found in the check-out aisles of local grocery stores, having a meltdown because the cashier wished them “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”
The term “the war on Christmas” gained popularity in 2005 when it was used as a book title by Fox News radio host John Gibson. It refers to the notion that there is a widespread liberal conspiracy to ban or restrict the celebration of Christian holidays like Christmas in the United States. There is no evidence to support this claim.
However, evidence and logic seem to be unnecessary in this situation. For example, a number of the more active fighters in the “war on Christmas” argue that Christmas trees, nativity displays, and other decorations should be allowed in public spaces because they aren’t intrinsically religious, and then also claim religious discrimination when these holiday baubles are not prominently displayed in town centers.
It is important to note that a number of the more active fighters in this bizarre culture war are also blatantly anti-Semitic. These particular individuals claim that the “war on Christmas” is part of a Jewish conspiracy to end the practice of Christianity in the United States. Once again, this is not supported by any factual evidence.
Nowadays, the term is commonly used in reference to such offensive and shocking actions as saying “happy holidays” rather than “merry Christmas,” or putting a menorah next to the Christmas tree in the town center.
Frequently voiced is the claim “you just can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore!” Of course, this is patently untrue. People say “Merry Christmas” all the time. So why all the anger?
Well, it’s rather fascinating. For someone who has been “on the top” for a long time—for example, white conservative Christians—equality feels like a downgrade.
These are the same type of people who get offended when someone says “people” rather than “men and women,” or “all genders” instead of “both genders.” The former statements are more inclusive, but some people are so used to excluding others that they feel being forced to recognize other ways of being is somehow diminishing their own. To them, “happy holidays” is not politically correct; it’s a personal attack.
Anyone who has actually had their rights challenged knows what it looks like. It isn’t someone wishing them happy holidays (and Christmas is a holiday, right? So by saying “happy holidays,” they are saying “merry Christmas.” They’re just also saying “happy Hanukkah” and “have a good Kwanzaa” and “have a lovely Krampusnacht.”)
A real attack on the rights of a group comes in the form of a concentrated political or social assault on their very ability to exist. Until the Supreme Court rules that the phrase “merry Christmas” can’t be spoken in public, or anti-Christian terrorists start throwing rocks through the windows of any house with a nativity display in the front yard, there is no “war on Christmas.”
Actually, the celebration of Christmas has been banned in the United States before— by Christians. In 17th century Massachusetts, Puritans disallowed the holiday due to its pagan origins and raunchy traditions, such as drinking, crossdressing and vandalism. Some called the holiday “Foolstide,” and many Puritans argued that, because Christmas was not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, no true Christian could celebrate it. Christmas did not become an official holiday in Massachusetts until 1856.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to one simple fact: not everyone celebrates Christmas. That’s why people say “happy holidays.” It isn’t because of some widespread conspiracy to burn all the evergreen trees, slaughter the reindeer and spite God; it’s because no one can magically tell what specific holidays people celebrate just by looking at them, so it’s better to use inclusive language and decorations rather than risk excluding certain groups.
So, this winter season, whether you decorate trees, light candles or commit petty crimes, remember: it could always be worse. You could be rap-battling a skeleton horse to keep her from breaking into your house and stealing all your alcohol.