Who Has Been Warring Against Christmas?
Who Has Been Warring Against Christmas?
Where I am the Third Day of Christmas is just finishing with the news that Grinch Trump has ended his own brief War on Christmas and is signing the Covid-19 relief bill, thereby reinstating unemployment benefits for 14 million people although they’ll miss a week of payments, as well as preventing millions more from being evicted from their rental housing units, along with the Omnibus spending bill so the government will not shut down after tomorrow. There has been less noise this year about the War on Christmas by the usual gang of right wing media types who like to whine about merchants and others saying “Happy Holidays!” rather than “Merry Christmas!” during the runup to Christmas, probably because so many of them have been caught up in whining about Biden supposedly stealing the election from Trump. But this somehow draws my attention to another group entirely who have been at warring on Christmas for a long time.
So according to most of the major Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church, and the Episcopalians, and Lutherans, and others of that ilk, the official proper Christmas season actually is the Twelve Days of Christmas, the first of which was Christmas Day itself, with the twelfth day of Christmas being Jan. 6, the Epiphany, the day supposed the Magi (Wise Men) visited the Baby Jesus. But for many they are not even willing to wait until New Year’s day, the official seventh day, to bring it to an end. There I was on Facebook yesterday, the second day, also known as Boxing Day in UK and some other places, and an FB friend posted about being “glad it is over,” with a commenter on that thread getting even more worked up and declaring to have “taken down out tree and put away all the decorations, I could hardly wait for it to end!” Yikes! Along these lines for some years now around here there is a rock/pop radio station that begins playing cheesy commercial “Christmas” music like “Frosty the Snowman” all the time starting almost immediately after Halloween, but reverts immediately to its usual fare starting December 26, the Second Day of Christmas. Sheesh!
Yes, it looks like that old bugaboo, the commercialization of Christmas and those pushing it have been the real Warriors on Christmas, shutting down the Christmas season the minute after it truly officially starts. They have been at pushing it earlier and earlier into the year, so of course gobs of people are totally sick of it by the time Dec. 25 comes around and are ready to toss it all out the following day. Hooray! Nor more Christmas! For a long time there were no commercials before Thanksgiving, or at least so it seemed when I was young, although the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade had long been the unofficial beginning of the commercial Christmas season with it ending with the arrival of Santa Claus to be followed the following day by the Black Friday of Christmas shopping. Indeed, that parade and Macy’s and other stores in New York played a major role, along with the Coca Cola company in the early 20th century, in creating that modern image of Santa Claus, out of the image in the Clement Moore “Night Before Christmas” from the 1820s, which in turn drew on some versions of the Dutch Sint Niklaas who was celebrated by New York Dutch. All this was crucially at the heart of this vast commercialization that overcame the old Puritan resistance to any celebrating of Christmas.
But somewhere in the last several decades that Thanksgiving boundary was broken through. The Christmas ads, and then the cheesy movies and music, all began earlier in November and proceeded to creep ever earlier, egged on by radio stations like the one near me that gets it going the minute Halloween has passed. And in more recent years even the Halloween barrier seemed to begin to get broken, with ads appearing here and there even in late October. No wonder so many have gotten so sick of it by the ostensible “First Day of Christmas” they are ready to toss their trees and purge their homes of any shred of decorations still lurking about.
Some have objected to all this. One curiously has been the Jewish comedian, who came up with calling Dec. 23 “Festivus” to recognize this commercialized version of the holiday. But not only has this not really caught on, but some have even accused him of engaging in “the War on Christmas” with his suggestion. A quite religious colleague of mine who was a journalist once upon a time wrote a column that appeared in the Wall Street Journal of all places some decades ago in which he proposed that, like Seinfeld, we create an alternative celebration, which he said should be called “Excessmass,” to be when the commercialized version of the holiday could be celebrated, so as to leave the good religious Christians like himself to have their proper holiday left alone. That proposal has gotten even less far than the “Festivus” one by Seinfeld.
S o there we have it, folks. The warriors on Christmas have been its commercializers, lot these many years. Have a happy what is left of the Christmas season!
But we knew that.
Our household tradition observed each year until 2020 was to get the gift shopping out of the way before Halloween, then set up our artificial Christmas tree around Thanksgiving, which we leave up by simply renaming it to the latest winter celebration until we take down the Easter Tree after the bunny rabbit drops. A lot happened this year for us so I did my shopping mid-November and my wife not until just after Thanksgiving. Until 8 years ago we set up the artificial in the living room and then two weeks before Christmas set up a real cut tree in our den, which came down a few days after New Year’s Day.
My wife watches cheesy Hallmark romance films on weekends year around, but after Thanksgiving she becomes compulsive about them all week long. Fortunately for her I have little use for any kind of canned visual entertainment save a few exceptional films, including games as well as broadcast TV, web or otherwise.
There are many households with lifestyles beyond either the imaginations of the chattering classes or the imaginations of the commentariat that considers the chattering classes worthy of critique.
E.g., with rare exception men do not live in caves, nor is watching any form of video entertainment manly. There are no manly games not played with axes.
BTW, Happy New Year.
Pray, let’s hope that somehow 2024 will not be a repeat of 2016.
I love the commercialization of Christmas. I live in a commercial society. There are damned few subsistence farmers where I live. Most of us sell our labor, goods that we make, services, things we thought up and so on. Vaguely aligned with the corporate fiscal year, the north temperate harvest and the solstice, Christmas is a chance to enjoy our shrinking share of the GDP and maybe spread a bit of it around to friends, families, service providers and those less fortunate or engaged in important non-commercial activities.
I’m sure that Christmas is a fine religious holiday with a charming if slightly confusing back story. Tax season was in the spring. Joseph and Mary were on their way to pay their taxes, no eFile for them. They forgot to book rooms, so Mary wound up giving birth in a manger around the winter solstice. That was one hell of a delivery, but the holiday itself is great.
Maybe I’m just not alienated enough from the means of production.
Exactly. Good on you, Dude
I am a notorious tight wad. What other than an act of God could get me to spend a grand on clothes for my wife?.
thanks for giving me a chance to vent. i was surprised by the turn you took. I agree with you.
But since what i was expecting was another denial that there was a war on christmas by the Left, I would like to say that as a committed leftist andbeliever in religious liberty and no nemy of certain other religious/ethnic groups, I had no trouble reognizing and being annoyed by a certain pressure (from where?) to shame me for saying merry christmas instead of the “sensitive” happy holidays, or certain invented variations on Christmas which seemed designed to reject white-man’s christmas as well as, perhaps, white mans christianity… which no doubt has been co-opted at times as a means of oppression, while other christians were desperately trying to do good in the world… even for those oppressed ethnic groups.
So to my eyes there was a war on Christmas even if it was some very not christian people exploiting it for political gain.
The commercialization of christmas was pointed out to me most visibly by a comedy sketch that hit the charts some time around 1959 [i very much don’t remember the exact year. i may try to look it up. So, nothing new here, but it bears repeating.
On the other hand, I just watched a youtube of a family providing a christmas present opening morning for their dog. everyone had so much fun it made me feel like a grinch becuse i was never able to create that spirit… and fun… for those i cared about.
so, for me at least, while i despise the anxiety and the need to “buy” created by what we have come to call Christmas, i can only look in admiration at those who are able to turn it into a great festival of fun and joy in giving.
and i would feel like a creep and a fraud if i wished someone happy.. name of their seasonal fesitival.. while knowing nothing about either their holiday or the struggles of their people.
Green Christmas, by Stan Freberg, 1958
my comment on this thread seems to have been deleted. i suspect probably by the commercials that override the comment box.
short summary of that comment: commercialization of Christmas has been around, and satirized, for a long time.
i expected an essay on the non-ness of a “war against Christmas” by the usual suspects, so I threw in my observation that even a dedicated leftist like me has observed a “war against Christmas” even if deploring it has been taken up by people i don’t like for their own (hard Right) political purposes.
my deleted comment, after describing in some detail the “war on christmas” went on to mention a youtube i had seen of a family enjoying a gift giving christmas morning with their dog. such joy as they were having made me suspect my own grinchiness about commercial christmas.
maybe christmas is in the heart of the believer…even a “commercialized” christmas can become the carrier of the christmas spirit.
I vaguely recall the existences of a war against Christmas long ago. It still gets some media coverage covering the chattering classes and other wing-nut camps, but that war was lost long ago, at least here in central VA. There was a time that people bought the idea that Christmas lights were a waste of energy and that Christianity was a scourge, but it passed away here other than some residual accommodations for faint-hearted diversity mostly just in the retail sector where both labor and management have a keen interest in not alienating anyone that has good credit with banks.
Happy New Year.
yeah, even political fads run their course, and i don’t keep up with changing fads. still, the memory burns.
but you are right about the perennial causes.
I added a long addendum to my original post on Econospeak some might find of interest. JBR
I just took the link to the source article and read the addendum today. It was interesting, as I am a tangential Christian more interested in Mary and the Gnostics than an observant Christian, like Dan Brown rather than into Dan Brown’s fiction.
OTOH, looking into Bruce Webb your name was mentioned as a co-conspirator in the plot to save SS. Kudos on that, but where did Bruce go? My joining the readers of AB after Doc Thoma retired EV was part by recommendation by EMichael, but even more from the high esteem and praise given Bruce Webb by my onetime EV cohort Owen Paine. I saw that Bruce Webb has not contributed at AB for just over four years now.
Bruce had cancer of the jaw. They removed his jaw. He made some jokes about it for a few weeks and then disappeared. i think he died.
Thanks. I suspected something like that.
Take care and best of luck to you.
I do not think Bruce Webb is dead, but he certainly has gone silent. I am a Facebook friend of his, where he has also posted nothing in a long time. He just had a birthday on New Year’s Day. Anyway, I sent him a message inquiring about him, but no reply, at least not yet.
However, as this has worked in the past, I did a google search for his name and “obituary.” Several dead Bruce Webbs showed up, but not him. So I think he is probably alive, but he is certainly laying low.
that would be good news. i guess email does not return mail “addressee deceased.”
i hope he lets us know. haven’t had much luck with obituary searches for other auld acquaintance.