Five Lies About “The War On Christmas”
Each year, people make posts on the internet or Facebook about Christmas that are patently false. Nothing steams me than to see these lies repeated by good intentions. I don't blame the people who post them, necessarily, because they hear them from places that they believe to be trustworthy and true. There is no "War on Christmas". It is a made-up controversy. Because you do something different than someone else doesn't mean that they are trying to take your holiday.
What it comes down to is that no one is trying to make war on the Christmas holiday season. Whether you don't believe the Christian religion or not, the entire season is about good will towards others and living in peace. That's the true "Reason for the Season". It isn't about spending money, shouting that your god is better than the next guys god, or seeing who can have the most lights on their house. It's about living in harmony with your neighbors, no matter what your differences.
I just saw this one this year. The story goes that the person who created the candy cane shaped them in the form of a "J" to represent Jesus and that the white signifies purity, while the red is for the blood he shed. It's a nice story, but it is not true. The candy cane started off as a straight stick of confectionery (sugar and water) that was braided and cut sometime in the 1600s. It was popular, but expensive, since the braiding process was time-intensive and it was hard to store the treats from moisture. The cane (bending the candy) started in Germany as a shepherd's crook and was used to bend on the Yule trees. This eventually came to be associated with Christianity and Christmas (the time of Yule). The color red and the peppermint flavor didn't arrive until the 1920s when candy maker, Bob McCormack, found a way to wrap them for longer use.
The Christmas tree was originally the Yule Tree. It comes out of Eastern Europe and Germany sometime before the 4th century. By dragging an evergreen tree indoors, these early people were celebrating the fact that life would return after the winter was over. It all had to do with their holiday of Yule which lasted for about 12 days at the end of December (note: The 12 Days of Christmas). When the Church moved in, they coincided this holiday with Christmas and took over the tree idea, too. The holiday was a festive time when family and friends got together and they thanked their gods for a short and safe winter. Ironically, many of our Christmas beliefs have come from the Norse and Germanic beliefs. Other examples:
- The Norse god, Thor (yes, the one from the movie), rides around the earth on a chariot pulled by his flying goats, named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Santa Claus rides around in a sleigh being pulled by flying reindeer.
- The festival of Yule is celebrated throughout the Norse and Germanic areas. Christmas falls during this same time.
- The colors of red and green, associated with Christmas, were once symbols of male and female and representative of the sacred holly (read the word 'Holy' in this) plant. In fact, it is thought that the word Holy comes from the High German word, hullis, which means Holly.
The other day I heard someone from a "Fair and Balanced" news channel make the statement that the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock so that we could have religious freedoms like Christmas. That's a paraphrase, but the gist of the conversation was that the Pilgrims supported Christmas. No. They didn't. In fact, it was outlawed in Puritan America. If you got caught celebrating Christmas (which not that many people did), then you could be fined. Christmas wasn't really a big thing through much of American history, in fact. It came back into popularity in the early 1700s, but then was quickly scorned again during the revolution. Why? Because our Founding Fathers weren't too keen on English holidays - especially when we were fighting them. It would be viewed the same way as celebrating the holiday of Tet (Vietnamese holiday) in 1968. The people wouldn't have liked it. So, Christmas was unpopular in the United States until...President Ullyses S. Grant made it official in 1870...
This is an old story from 2009, but it has popped up again this year. According to the emails going out, President Obama has eliminated "Christmas Trees" from the White House in lieu of calling the "Holiday Trees". Supposedly, a letter was sent out stating that President Obama doesn't want America to be known as a Christian nation (obviously from the story we hear about his devout Muslim faith), so we celebrate all holidays. Don't get me wrong, I think we should recognize the thirteen or so other holidays going on during the Christmas season, but this is a lie. Here's a video from this year of the "Holiday Tree" arriving at the White House. Take a special note to the giant sign on the side.
One more thing. If you are interested in knowing who did call the White House Christmas trees a "Holiday Tree", look at the last president: George W. Bush.
One of the biggest controversies each year is over the use of "Xmas" or "Holidays" vs. "Christmas". All are correct. While Christmas means "the mass of the Christ", so does the word Xmas. The "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the word for Christos, which means - Christ. The word Christ means literally, The Anointed One or Anointed with Oil. If you really want to have your mind blown, this word is not Greek in origin - it's Indian (as in Hindis, not American Indians) and means The Beautiful One. It is the name given to the Hindu god, Krishna, which you can see within the spelling. The same holds true for the word "holiday". It is the Anglicized word for Holy Day. How wrong can that be?