Have a Merry Secular Christmas

It’s that time of year again, where the annual War on Christmas rages on in the minds of the far right and the rest of us really couldn’t care less.  We’re too busy celebrating Christmas or whatever winter holiday happens to float your boat.

Personally, I couldn’t care less.

The reality is, whether the ridiculously religious like it or not, Christmas hasn’t been a religious holiday in a very long time.  Sure, there are some people who insert religious symbolism into their otherwise secular holiday, people who might show up for a church service along the way, but the vast majority of things that are done today, at least in the west, are wholly secular and have nothing at all to do with Christianity.

Take the Christmas tree, which comes from pagan mythology and was even outlawed in some states in the early United States for being heretical.  Gifts… all of them come not from Christianity but from consumerism.  Santa Claus?  While ostensibly he started out being a Catholic saint, the Santa we all think about today came from a 1930s Coca Cola ad campaign.  The same goes for Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch, none of which are religious in nature at all.

And then there are things that supposedly started out with religious significance and have grown secular over the years.  Candy canes, for instance, supposedly came from a 1670 choir master who wanted to keep children quiet during the long Christmas nativity service so he made candy in the shape of a shepherd’s crook to shut them up.  Today?  Doesn’t mean a damn thing.

The First Christmas Card – 1843

Christmas cards started in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole who helped to set up the Post Office in 1840 and wanted to encourage more regular people to use it.  The first cards cost a shilling and had three panels, the outer panels showing people helping the poor and the center one showing a family having a feast.  Some people complained because it showed a child being given wine.  So Christmas cards were a marketing campaign for the mail system.  Not religious at all.

Mistletoe goes back to the Druids and it is from the Norse that we get the idea of kissing under the mistletoe. Early Christians in Europe tried to ban it as heretical. In fact, mistletoe is a parasite, spread by bird droppings. Even though it is widely used around the holidays, mistletoe is toxic to humans and can kill you if consumed in large enough quantities.

So remember that there is no war on Christmas, there’s just a return to the Christmas that we’ve had for a lot longer than Christianity has been around.  Just enjoy your day, see your family and friends and have a good time.  Don’t worry about kissing the ass of some imaginary sky daddy and his bastard son.  It’s all laughable anyhow.  You ought to be better than that.

 

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