Christmas, or Happy Holidays?

As I am writing this, it is December 22, which happens to have been my mother’s birthday. It is also three days before Christmas; actually it’s less than three days because it’s 1030PM. Our tree is up, the den is decorated and we’ve got  a few ornaments on the front porch in the front yard (but nothing like some of our neighbors have. I still have to go buy a couple more gifts for my wife and something for the dog, but overall I’m generally ready for the holiday, and that is what December 25 is, a Federal holiday, not that holidays mean that much to me now that I’m retired and no longer draw a paycheck and have to be at someone’s beck and call. We’ll probably go to Christmas Eve services at our church followed by a hot dog at James Coney Island. Since our friends that we normally celebrate with are out of town, we’re planning to watch The Christmas Story, possibly with the friend who’s still in town, then go have Chinese for dinner. Chinese restaurants rarely close on Christmas Day.

What I am about to say may make a few people upset, but it’s the honest truth. Christmas is not the birthday of the Savior. It never really has been and that it is today is merely a pretense. Christmas as we know it today is actually a media invention and a commercial endeavor.

That Jesus was born is beyond doubt. We know what when He was born, Herod was King of Israel and Augustus ruled the new Roman Empire and that He was born in Judea in the little town of Bethlehem, as the prophets had foretold, and that His parents – Joseph had married Mary, His mother, after he learned she was pregnant by the Holy Ghost – had gone there to be taxed. What we don’t know is the month, let alone the day, of His birth. The December 25 date was adopted by the Catholic Church sometime around the reign of Constantine, the Roman Emperor who legitimized the church in Rome. It is believed the church adopted the date because it was a popular pagan holiday celebrating the birth of the sun. According to tradition, the early Christians were participating in the celebration so some Roman church leader decided to adopt it as Jesus’ birthday.

That all happened around 1,700 years ago. Move forward to Early America. That’s when the Dutch brought their Santa Claus tradition to North America, a tradition that was quickly adopted throughout the colonies. The Dutch Santa Claus is based on a man who lived in the third or fourth century who was dubbed Saint Nicholas because of the kindnesses he allegedly did. Over the centuries, supernatural powers were attributed to him and he eventually evolved into Santa Claus. Clement Moore’s poem did more to spread the tradition than anything else up to that time.

Now, we need to get something straight. Actually, we need to get a lot of things straight. One thing we need to get straight is that the Apostles admonished the Early Church NOT TO OBSERVE FEASTS AND TRADITIONS! Consequently, observing Christmas as a Christian day is in violation of scripture, and thus the will of God. Nowhere are Christians commanded to  observe the birth of Christ, not for that matter, is the day of His birth revealed. We do know the day of His death – it was on the Jewish Passover, which was only natural because He was born to be the Lamb of God. However, Christians aren’t commanded to observe the day of His death either (we don’t know the exact day.) The Early Church gathered on the first day of the week because that was the day on which Christ arose.

I have always enjoyed Christmas, even when  was living by myself. However, I do not see it as a celebration of the birth of Jesus even though I did as a child. In fact, large numbers of Christians over the centuries have believed that celebrating Christmas was against the will of God. I am descended from a prominent Baptist preacher, a Scotsman who pastored in London. I don’t know my ancestors’ thoughts on Christmas but I do know that English Baptists (and others) did not celebrate it and preached against celebrating the holiday, which was merely an excuse for Englishmen to get drunk and engage in bawdy behavior.

Christmas as we know it today, goes back to the increasing influence of the media with the advent of radio, recording and commercial advertising. Merchants, many of whom were Jews, saw Christmas as a tremendous opportunity to make money. So did the music industry, as song writers started writing songs about Christmas that had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. Recording stars whose lives demonstrate that they are anything but Christians, recorded Christmas songs to increase their popularity. How can Dirk the Dagger be a bad man if he sings Christmas songs? The advertising industry seized on Christmas as a means of promoting their client’s wares. Their clients, many of whom are Jews, made scads of money, so much money that the Christmas  season became the most profitable period of the year, accounting for a large portion of their yearly sales.

Many people gripe about the term “Happy Holidays,” which actually dates back for well over a century and a half. They seem to feel that “Merry Christmas” is superior and evidently are under the mistaken belief that God will somehow reward them for using that term as a greeting. In truth,  it doesn’t matter. God rewards us for our works, not for our utterances. Personally, I could care less which term people or use or whether they say anything at all.

What bothers me is that Christmas has become something it never should have. Christmas is not being commercialized, it was commercialized a long time ago, before I was born 70 years, one month and 22 days ago. Christmas has been sold by the media as “a time of giving” when it’s really a time of buying the wares of their advertisers. It’s to the point that people feel obligated to give gifts to practically everyone they know instead of to their family. The same with Christmas cards, which were developed by the greeting card industry to boost sales. The paper industry also came up with wrapping paper. The radio plays all kinds of “Christmas” songs but they’re really nothing but love songs with some kind of Christmas theme. None of them have anything whatsoever to do with the birth of Jesus even though that is what the day is supposed to be about.