Bah Humbug: Why I Could Care Less About Your Christmas

I've been drowning myself in Christmas music these days, especially the lovely songs from the 1950's or so. "Silver Bells" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "It's beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and a few later ones like "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Cary and "Last Christmas" by George Michael. Oh, and in my kindergarten classes we've been learning "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas." My son loves "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Deck the Halls"---two traditional favorites.

Now that I think about it, almost all of the above songs are more than fifty years old and yet none of them have any religious content at all. My favorite Christmas movies--"The Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street"--also have zero content about Jesus or God. 

So what is all the ruckus about the secularization of Christmas? It seems the Santa mania and commercialization of Christmas has been going on for more than a generation, if not much longer.

It is natural for people who are not devout Christians to celebrate Christmas in a non-religious way or to not celebrate at all. The church should continue to teach about Christ's birth, sing Christmas carols, and read the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible. If the church itself ignored Christ's birth, I would find that offensive. 

But it would be very odd to expect people who don't believe in Jesus to celebrate his birth. I don't celebrate Buddha's birthday in a religious manner, because I am not Buddhist. I do celebrate Buddha's birthday as a Korean public holiday by meeting friends, drinking, eating, or just hanging out. As a non-Buddhist, I do admire the beautiful paper lanterns that are hung along the stress to celebrate Buddha's birthday, but I don't hang them up myself.  Korean Buddhists may be upset about that (though I serious doubt it) but it would just be odd to expect a person to celebrate a religious holiday that they don't believe in.

So why all the moaning and groaning about Christmas?  It seems like a smokescreen to me. Most Evangelical Christians would say that each person must accept Christ as their God and savior. For Christians, that is a serious issue, but I don't see how Christmas per se has anything bearing on that.

 Christians have complained for as long as I can remember about people who only go to church twice a year--Christmas and Easter. Even if it became fashionable in American for non-religious people to embrace the trappings of Christian religion once a year by reading the Bible, singing carols about Jesus, and displaying the nativity scene, I don't see how that would be a good thing. 

The point of Christianity is to follow Christ. If someone is an otherwise "good Christian" (not that I'd dare to define what that means) and yet elects to not celebrate Christmas, I don't see how that would remotely matter. I've known Christian people who believed that Christmas originated from a pagan holiday and refused to celebrate it. Fine with me. 

And is someone is not a Christian than it is perfectly natural not to celebrate in a religious way. I am not going around lambasting my Buddhist neighbor for singing "Rudulph" rather than "Silent Night."  Nor am I going to beat my head against the wall because my non-religious friends say Happy Holidays!


Oh and by the way Happy Christmas!

4 comments:

  1. Hannah, I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for challenging me to think through my own beliefs.

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  2. Thanks, Mary! I didn't know you read my blog. I have good memories of playing at your house when we were little (assuming you are Mary P.) :-)

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  3. Yes, I'm Mary P. :) I have good memories of playing at your house, too, and one funny memory of jumping on your bed and crashing into the wall! Your sweet mom patched me up after that one!

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