What is the “War on Christmas”?
Christmastime. A festive season for family, food, and warfare?
Perhaps, you’re familiar with the “War on Christmas” that’s been raging over the last several years. It stems from the radical belief that multiculturalism is shadowing traditional American values. The provocative phrase has been linked to figures like President Donald Trump (remember “[People] don’t use the word Christmas . . . because it’s not politically correct. Guess what? We’re saying Merry Christmas again!”) and to silly controversies like the drawings printed on Starbucks coffee cups.
It seems that Christians feel frustration and alienation due to the rise of multicultural themes now present in mainstream media. They are defending Christmas (in their eyes). To some of these war radicals, even the phrase Happy Holidays has been labeled anti-Christmas because it represents the marginalization of the holiday.
Well, according to the Pew Research Center, 92% of all Americans, regardless of religious background, celebrate Christmas in some form. Judging by numbers alone, it’s hard to believe this popular holiday is under serious threat. Christmas imagery still largely dominates the media and entertainment landscape in the United States.
Who fired the first Christmas shot?
The sentiment behind this phrase has existed long before Donald Trump or the Starbucks controversy. In the 1920s, known anti-Semite Henry Ford distributed a series of pamphlets that claimed to expose the “whole record of Jewish opposition to Christmas” and other Christian holidays like Easter. A spike of religiosity in the ’50s ensured that Christian values were included in the curriculum of most public schools. When minorities spoke out against this incorporation of church and state, they faced severe backlash.
And, conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly revitalized the woeful “War on Christmas” for modern audiences. Although the phrase was apparently coined by author Peter Brimelow, O’Reilly launched it to new heights in 2004 on his highly-rated Fox News program. Shortly after, another Fox News contributor released a book detailing the supposed “Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday.”
A peace treaty
It’s worth saying that Christmas is a cherished holiday that’s celebrated worldwide. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a sense of pride over the religious or cultural traditions celebrated with your family and friends. But, does that pride need to include apprehension or resentment toward those who express their love for holidays like Hanukkah or Kwanza?
We don’t think so. And, let’s face it, the holiday season isn’t really about what’s printed on a cup of coffee. It’s not about how someone greets you in a shopping mall, whether that’s with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Rather, in this time of such divisiveness, we should all strive to appreciate the common threads found in all winter celebrations: family, friends, food, tradition, and yes—gifts.