Don’t take Christ out of Christmas. Christmas Trees and Mistletoe and Santa are all a part of keeping Christ in Christmas, along with Yule Logs and Candles, and even caroling and candy canes—and all have pagan roots that the Christian church syncretized into its milieu as it expanded beyond a small weak sect of Judaism into the predominant religion of the world.
Even the day it is celebrated pays homage to Sol Invictus, the undefeated Sun God of Rome. No one can clearly say what day or even month in which Jesus was born, and in many ways, it doesn’t matter. It is not his birth, which was ignored completely by two of the for gospel writers and told in two irreconcilable account by the other two, but his death and resurrection there from that is the basis of Christianity.
So, aligning the date with the other celebrations in place at the time and adopting and adapting pagan traditions (like the tree) helped Christians feel not so out of step with the surrounding and predominant culture. This was not good theology, but it was good marketing, and once a culture adopts a tradition, one has to move heaven and earth to change it, which is, I suppose, why the Christian Church, which for so many years, fought against the celebration being anything other than a meal, now believes that removing a pagan symbol or date is a bad thing. Odd how syncretization works.
If Christians were to toss out all the pagan ritual, then they could cleanly and honestly complain about taking Christ out of Christmas.
We have to remember the reason for the season. Sure, we do such a good job by packing the Stores and spending ourselves into oblivion buying things for people who most of the time don’t need anything, by decorating the yard with Santa and his reindeer and Snowmen and lights and candy canes and maybe a Christmas Star. There is nothing wrong with this. It is fun and it does represent the season we are now in, which has very little to do with Christ or the message of Christianity.
And soon, there will be complaints because some town changed the name of their parade from a Christmas Parade to a Holiday Parade, or, as in the case of Tulsa, a Winterfest Parade. Reason for the season: don’t take Christ out. Will the competing parades have pagan elements to it? I would guess so—and Christmas Parade without Santa is bound to disappoint.
Face it, we live in a multi-cultural nation. While Jesus Christ is the reason for the season for probably 2/3of the population, that means it is not for the remainder made up of Jews and Muslims and atheists and believer’s of other faiths.
The reason for the season is not the birth of Jesus, it is the Winter Solstice, which was adopted for use as the placeholder for the birth of Jesus by Christians as they moved into Europe. It is the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the day the sun stops dying and begins its rebirth and ascendance that has caused celebrations through all time by almost every culture.
To deny this is to deny reason and history and common sense and, in our country, to deny the rightful celebration of a time of the year by those who do not believe in Christianity.
Look, calling a parade a Holiday Parade does not prohibit Christians from celebrating the birth of their Savior, but it does recognize the rights of others. And really, what’s the beef? Holiday is a shortening of Holy Days, much like Christmas is a merging of Christ’s Mass (which, because of its Catholic origins is probably to be avoided also).
If you want more Christ in Christmas, good. Take someone a meal, visit a sick person, comfort the afflicted. Enjoy your family and everything good God has to offer you. Don’t begrudge those who believe differently. Allow them their celebration too.
My guess is that Christmas is going nowhere, war or not. It appeals to too many, and without it, our economy would take a nose dive, so being the Capitalists we are, that is not about to happen any time soon. Whether or not Christ remains in it through all the commercialism and pagan ritual is determined in each person’s heart and soul, not in the name of a parade.