Those of you who have been paying attention and know where to look know we are at war. Not the guns and bombs kind (although there is no shortage of those of late) but the verbal kind. I speak, of course, of the much-vaunted (and little wanted) War on Christmas. We are told that there are people out there who are liable to take offense to the very word "Christmas." Of course, we are told this mainly by those who take offense to this supposed offense-taking itself--it's all very meta.
Now, X to the Mas falls on a Sunday this year, and it says in no less of an authority than the Bible that Sundays are sacred--one of the Ten Commandments reads "Yo, I got Sunday off, you guys should totally come party with me. It'll be cool. Kthxbye."--so there clearly needs to be room for Daddy, Junior and the Spook. But how do you tell the insidious secularized "Happy Seasonal Occasion" traditions from the genuine "Happy Birthday JC" ones? Here's a list to let you know:
- Christmas trees. Not in the Bible, are they? Apparently this particular tradition was nicked from the German pagans in the early first millenium AD. They must not miss 'em, though, or they'd've spoke up, right?
- X-Mas. See, that X there ain't algebraic for "unknown" (sorry, agnostics) but rather descends from the Greek letter "chi", a shorthand for Christ used by early, Roman-era Christians. You know, back when Christians actually were an oppressed minority somewhere people could locate on a map. (Sorry, Darfur.)
- "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman". No Jesus in there, no sir, so they gotta go. Jury's still out on the "Batman smells, Robin laid an egg" version, at least until we can determine whether the Batmobile lost its wheel due to a natural process, or whether there was some sort of Intelligent Designer involved.
- "Happy Holidays". Okay, "holidays" comes from "holy days", so that's a big ol' fuck you to the atheists right there. There are a couple of Jewish holidays in December, admittedly, but they don't really seem all that happy, do they? I mean, the central message of most of 'em was "We weren't completely wiped out by that enslavement/war/genocide 8000 years ago, so quitcherbitchin." Cheery! And as for all the other religions, I'm assuming if they were to celebrate anything, the kind and inclusive folks behind the Kokanee calendar would have remembered 'em. (Does "Return Ranger vakume borrowed in August" count?) So this pretty much has to be Christian by default.
- Santa Claus. Okay, on the one hand Saint Nicholas was a genuine religious figure, patron saint of prisoners, pawnbrokers and prostitutes. (Which makes Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis" wierdly sorta religious.) And, to be fair, he's patron saint of children, too, but that doesn't alliterate so well. But on the other hand, he keeps some pretty shady company. Shady as in, if you fall on the wrong side of the naughty/nice dichotomy, you could get kidnapped or even eaten. Fun! And is it really good religious training to get the wee bairns used to the idea of an old man with a beard who enforces codes of behaviour and has supernatural powers, but later turns out to not exist at all? Yer outta here, Kringle!
- At least gift giving's in. You might wanna keep it to gold, frankincense and myrrh, though.