Now that we’ve made it through the holidays (well, except for the secular new year and I’m too old to do much celebrating of that) is a good time for some context. Despite the cries of people such as Bill O’Reilley, who profit from it, and from those they mislead, there is, as we all know, no War on Xmas.
What is going on is that many religions have religious holy days right around the the Winter Solstice. Christmas is one, but only one, of those religious holy days. There’s also a secular holiday around this same time that even atheists and secular humanists often celebrate. It has to do with seeing friends and family, feasting, sending cards to old friends, enjoying Winter activities such as making snowmen or bringing evergreens into the house. A host of songs celebrate this holiday: Let It Snow, Jingle Bells, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, etc. The problem is that, for a long time, we called this Winter holiday the same name as the Christian holy day: Christmas. Most people of good will and good sense can tell the difference, but it opens the door for the O’Reilleys of the world to exploit and confuse. That’s why I advocate calling it “the holiday” instead of Christmas. Christmas should only be used to refer to the Christian holy day.
In some ways, the religious holy day/secular holiday issue is similar to Samhein/Halloween. We Witches (and many other Pagans) have a religious holy day (Samhein) on Oct. 31st. There’s also, now, a secular holiday on the same date that involves costumes, parties, kids going trick or treating. It would be nuts for us to run around screaming that everyone had to say Samhein instead of Halloween and crying about a War on Samhein. It’s equally nuts for Christians to get upset when someone wishes them a happy holiday, rather than a merry Christmas.
Here’s hoping that whichever holy days and holidays you celebrate, they’ve been wonderful.