Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#109 Keeping Christ in Christmas

Christian culture is alarmed by all things politically correct. They say the increasing use of the phrase happy holidays is an affront to keeping Christ in Christmas and it’s just one more sign that this country is headed for hell in a handbasket.

The chance that Christ could actually be somehow removed from Christmas would seem impossible, yet Christian culture is urgently concerned it could happen. If anyone has a problem with their saying Merry Christmas they insist that person should respect their constitutional rights, but when other people say Happy Holidays the evangelicals don’t take too kindly to it.


Rather than show some Christlike goodwill to people with different beliefs than they, Christian culture tends to go on the offensive so that they can feel like they’re standing up for Christ. But the Christ of the Bible wasn’t threatened by disbelief. For his followers to take up this cause with such rabid fervor seems to be a contradiction.


For a bit of seasonal fun, wish the evangelical in your life a happy holiday or perhaps a blessed Kwanzaa. If you really want to get their dander up, ask them what they think of the American Humanist holiday ad campaign. The intensity of their reaction is a definitive gauge of how invested they are in the notion that Christ’s deity is inherently tied to a seasonal formality.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 3:34 am

If they don’t celebrate the holidays then I guess I don’t have to feel bad about excluding them from my New Year’s Eve parties.

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Josh Mock

posted December 11, 2009 at 4:18 am

I may or may not have been asked to build this site at my day job:
Had to sell my soul a little bit.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 6:06 am

Thank you for addressing this. I’ve always said “Happy Holidays.” When I was younger, I was told that the recipient had two holidays coming up (Christmas and New Years), and therefore it was the more accurate phrase. It had nothing to do with even acknowledging other religious holidays. It was only as I got older that I realized how nicely inclusive it was.
I imagine it’s got to be brutal working retail this time of year. On top of all the crowds and the hectic pace, you’ve got the kind of folks who visit “” to deal with.

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Joseph J Newman Sr

posted December 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

I’m a believer in the main concern of Christianity. “The Father,Son and the Holey Ghost. All other things,comments and situations that evolve over Christmas becomes non-negotiable in my beliefs. I’m a Minister of a non-denominational church and find that people of all religions spend to much time condemming each other beliefs and precious time that is left trying to deliver the message of Christianity thru out the world. Everyone thinks they are right and all others are going to make it to the promise of eternal life..Raised in a Christian belief I find all religions that continuosly condem another to be at fault as well those that are accused. All are trying to reach the only one God and Savior,why waste the effort on fighting. Judge ye not,least ye be judged also! Explanatiopns are great,but not inforceable by condemnation. The Almighty will see to what is right and was is wrong

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Mary C.

posted December 11, 2009 at 9:41 am

I’m thinking of wishing everyone “Happy Solstice” or asking what they are doing to commemorate the birth of the sun god… that always seems to go over well.
I actually have been wondering what to say as so many of my friends are vehemently anti-religous/athiest, but they don’t seem to mind my “Happy Christmas” because I am their friend. It’s about relating to people and letting go of this “I am right-you are evil/pagan/otherwise branded” mentality.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 9:57 am

Of all the weird things Christians do, getting worked up over the so-called War on Christmas is the silliest. Considering that we get completely and totally bombarded with Christmas from October 30th right up to the day, it should be clear what the holiday is all about: $$.

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Rollo Tomassi

posted December 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

The War on Christmas; once again, another manufactured indignation to sell literature and merchandise to the closed Christian market. GodBrand® has never had a more reliable (seasonal) revenue stream.
Wanna know the truth about the “Happy Holidays” non-troversy? Look no further than the free market capitalism conservatives hold up as the highest form of piety. Every Jew, Buddhist, HIndu or Atheist I know could care less if you pop off with Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays, but EVERY company I’ve ever designed advertising for has made me meticulously search out “religion-neutral” stock art (royalty free of course) to be paired up with carefully focused grouped “religion-neutral” slogans to sell whatever product they needed to move before the end of the year at Christmas time.
Christmas tree ornament shot? Forget it, Christmas tree association makes it religion-specific. Holiday wreath on the door picture? Too close to Christmas, next. Rustic snowman in some snow covered field on a midwest farm? WINNER!
You see the War on Christmas isn’t some lefty, liberal plot to kill God from public discourse; It’s a calculated marketing plan.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Great post Stephy! As a footnote to what Stephy has written here (or if you don’t believe her), check out some of the comments on this facebook group’s wall: Hateful? Check. Smug? Check. Peace on earth, good will to men? Not so much

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posted December 11, 2009 at 11:03 am

Santa Claus kneeling at the manger always cracks me up. Dude, the character of Santa Claus is based on a Christian saint; the guy DID kneel before the confected body of Christ at Christmas. It’s not edgy or subversive; it’s old news.
I’d love to Americanize the pronunciation of Christmas to emphasize its etymology: Christ Mass. Ooooops, no no no, that’s a little too Catholic for comfort. We have to keep the Christ in Christmas, but let’s just ignore that little “mas” part, shall we?
“The Christ of the Bible wasn’t threatened by disbelief.” Love it. The snarling reaction to “happy holidays” isn’t indignation over the supposed profanation of what is sacred (and Christ’s only indignation over said profanation was with commercializing, marketing and taxing people’s access to the presence of God…hm); it’s mainstream Christianity’s vigilant persecution complex and fear of losing majority power, which might require a dedication to Christ that causes actual discomfort. For people who claim access to a peace that transcends all understanding and contentment in all circumstances, we sure do a good job of being terrified of the possibility of needing to tap into them.

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Travis Mamone

posted December 11, 2009 at 11:09 am

I’m more ticked off at the mass consumerism of Christmas than some one wishing me “Happy Holidays.”

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posted December 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

What’s really funny about all this is that the Puritan side of the Evangelical movement’s family tree BANNED Christmas observance in this country whenever/wherever they could get away with it. Not only did they not “keep Christ in Christmas,” they took Christmas out of (their brand of) Christianity. Ironic, no?

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posted December 11, 2009 at 5:57 pm

My aunt sent me an email about how it’s a CHRISTMAS tree, not a holiday tree, which I find strange since it’s actually a pagan tree with lights.
Meanwhile, on my Episcopal liturgical purist side, I get lots of snarky comments about how, “It’s not Christmas; it’s Advent.” The holiday greeters really can’t win.
Advent/Christmas/Holiday blessings to you.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm

It’s true, Christians can be offended by the detachment of Christ to the season. However, there are many individuals and groups who believe that it’s the Christians who have infiltrated (some use the word “stole”) their holiday season of Solstice (which I would tend to agree with), and who are actively preaching the absence of any higher power.
Born and raised around Seattle, Christians don’t seem to be the majority and they are the ones who are harassed and persecuted, it’s not the other way around. It isn’t the non-believers being careful of how they greet someone, for me in this city, it’s the Christian who is careful, and respectful, with their holiday verbiage.
In fact, I grew up in churches where the cross was removed from behind the pulpit (ok, behind the pastor) as to not offend non-believers. I think the trend now is to have a rolling cross, which is easily movable (see MHC).
Take for example the group Freedom from Religion Foundation (, who last year erected a sign in front of Washington’s State Capitol in Olympia’s holiday decor. The sign read:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.
Mission accomplished: there are no holiday decorations at the State Capitol this year. FFRF have run ad campaigns this year on Seattle Metro, 400 of which reading “Yes Virginia… there is no god,” along with other literary references which claim God as a story of fiction, fairy tale, and a symbol of slavery.
The Christmas tree is far less offense; it doesn’t discriminate or belittle others’ religious views or beliefs.
As a Christian, I do take offense. It is not a lack of belief that I am offended by, it’s the inciting ways groups like these use. They are actively against Christ and actively pursue ways to pull even the mention of Christ out of organizations, groups, and holidays. Why is it more appropriate for groups to promote “no god” than a god? While I’m all for keeping church and state separate, I am also for keeping anti-church and state separate.
I’m with Travis and others, more irritated about the consumerism than anything. there’s a documentary called “What Would Jesus Buy?” where a traveling performance troupe travels around preaching non-consumerism. It’s entertaining.

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posted December 11, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I ranted a bit about this sort of thing three years ago.
Anyhoo, “holiday” means “holy day” anyway. Isn’t Christmas a holy day? Gawd.

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Uncle Luther

posted December 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Thank you for this post! I am so tired of hearing about the war on Christmas and what you wrote cracked me up.

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posted December 12, 2009 at 12:21 am

Christmas!? Why don’t we give it an accurate name anyway? Like “Guiltmas”…since i feel nothing but guilty for showing up at the family gatherings with no presents. or “Creditmas”, since the credit card companies feel much more appreciated than Christ on that day anyway.

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posted December 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

Rollo – well said.

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posted December 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm

One of the great ironies here: that “Happy Holidays” isn’t anything new. It dates back to the 1950s (at very least). My educated guess on its use is that it was coined so that people living in areas where there are large Jewish communities could simply wish their friends and neighbors a happy holiday season without giving potentially offense. (In other words, it works both ways – for Jewish people to wish their gentile friends, neighbors and colleagues a happy holiday season…)
I heard “happy holiday” radio jingles while growing up in the 50s and 60s. This was the norm, not the exception. 😉

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Hidden One

posted December 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

In fairness to the Protestants, the “Mas[s]” part of Christmas (Christ’s Mass) was already removed, so it’s not inconceivable that the Christ bit could disappear.

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posted December 12, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Funny how some of the people who’ve maintained that there’s a “war” on this holiday have made a tidy bundle on the sale of books (etc.) aimed at convincing people that said “war” is real. Very entrepeneurial, no? 😉

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Still Breathing

posted December 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Yesterday a Jewish friend wished me a Happy Christmas! When I commented on this she replies ‘Anything for a party’ so I wished her a Happy Hannakuh.

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Sensible Joe

posted December 14, 2009 at 12:19 am

What today’s evangelicals fail to mention is how their Puritan ancestors long outlawed the observance of Christmas in America on pain of fines or jail time as something “unbiblical” and “papist.” It was a regular working day for Congress after the adoption of the Constitution. It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870, by which time it had been defanged into a “family holiday,” rather than a specifically religious one, in America. And now the descendants of the Puritans are the defenders of the “religiosity” of Christmas? Puh-leeze… Away with your historical amnesia and revisionism. Go out and feed some poor people and love your enemies instead.

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posted December 14, 2009 at 9:57 am

I do get tired of both sides in this–the hard-core evangelicals on the one hand, and the atheists and secular humanists on the other, both of whom seem spoiling for a fight. I find them both unsufferably obnoxious. Most of the good people I know don’t care one way or the other about “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” (I prefer the latter, but I don’t get worked up if someone uses the former).

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posted December 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Steve, you must not work in customer service.
In my years working with the public I’ve been harangued for saying Happy Holidays! (what are you, some anti-Christian commie!) to saying “good morning” in December (aren’t you people allowed to say Merry Christmas?) to saying “Merry Christmas!” on Christmas Day (Don’t you want Jewish money?)
There’s a significant and VOCAL minority buying this whole “War on Christmas” nonsense.

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posted December 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I totally agree with this. It never ceases to amaze me how many Christians are personally offended by the use of the abbreviation “Xmas”. I love telling people that X is actually the Greek symbol for Christ and it is perfectly acceptable and not in the least un-Christian. But I suppose the very fact that I have to tell them this shows just how uneducated most Christians are….even in their own religion.
P.S. I love your blog. I am also a pastor’s kid and have been increasingly frustrated with Christian culture in recent years. It’s almost as if it’s not about faith anymore. It’s sad.

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posted December 15, 2009 at 9:07 am

Hi, Rosa, I did work in customer service at a Barnes & Noble over ten years ago. This hadn’t quite blown up the way it has now. I think we were encouraged to use “Happy Holidays,” but the fact that my memory is fuzzy on this indicates that it wasn’t a real big deal, either for the staff or our customers. You’re right, there is a very vocal minority out there–that’s the group I’m criticizing. Everyone on both sides needs to chill out and enjoy the season!
BTW, I do find the lmited amount of time to fill in this text block *very frustrating*–contrary to my advice above to chill!

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posted December 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I bet that pretty much all the Christians who believe that calling Christmas anything other than Christmas is a bad thing have a Christmas tree in their house. A bit ironic, especially when you consider that Christmas trees are a pagan symbol!
In England we have another pethate from Christians, people who call Christmas “Xmas”, they hate it!

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Rocky Presley

posted December 15, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Stephy, thanks for the shout out! It is me who loves your words as well! Oh come let us adore them.

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posted December 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Christ needs to be in Christmas. I made a movie that has definitely helped me to focus more on Him this year. I hope you enjoy it and remember the real meaning for the season.
One of the greatest ways to feel the real meaning of Christmas is by serving others.

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posted December 27, 2009 at 12:01 am

Bonus fun: Point out that Advent is actually kinda a Marian fast and has been for about as long as the Church has been around, and that the Orthodox, traditional RCs and traditional Anglicans still treat it as such – watch heads explode. We only have purple vestments at my church, but the first Anglican church I went had Ceil blue vestments for Advent, and I got kinda fixated on them. There is one other parish that I know of in the diocese that has a set and it is – a) not mine; b) set way back on a winding road about a mile from a bus stop and about 2 hours away by bus on a Sunday morning, otherwise I’d think about it for Advent next year. Someday when I’m old and have learned to sew much better from the old altar guild ladies, I’m going to make a blue set for my church.

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posted December 29, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I remember Advent as that I went to Catholic School for a few years and personally I found it more tolerable being that it eases you into Christmas, like a really nice shoehorn. I tried to get my Evangelical mother into it but she looked at me as if I wanted to bring the crusades back. Personally I think the smaller, more vocal Christians who think of the “happy holidays/x-mas/etc” as things to totally get bent out of shape about have totally lost focus of what the whole idea of the feast day. Instead of cleaving to the good they hang on to the bad, if not to distract non-believers from their hollow lives. These folks are all pomp and circumstance and no depth. They have a control problem, wanting things to be done THEIR way and using the cloak of Christianity to do it. This is the same way for things that are political and other various religious sundries. I wish no ill to these folks, but I do wish they were honest about where they are coming from.

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posted December 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm

When I was a kid, I always thought of the term “Happy Holidays” referred to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

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posted January 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Being a Christian I don’t like how Christmas has been transformed into the politically correct Happy Holidays. Being Chinese, I don’t like how Happy Holidays has been applied a month too early — Chinese New Year is my main holiday ;-). Being Canadian, it is way too cold to have a Happy Holiday — I keep my happy holidays for the summer.

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posted September 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

What a terrible thought: that we should respect the Jewish community–and those of other beliefs–and wish them well, also. Christians who find this “threatening,” I suspect they’re not particularly secure in their own faith.
Worse still if they should happen to learn there’s no reason (Scriptural or historical) to believe Christ was born on December 25th. The original reason for choosing the time of year for Christmas was to compete with pagan holidays which fell on approximately the same dates. (Utterly unlikely they’ll accept this, whether aware of it or not.)

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