Since the start of the actual celebration of the holiday, there has been controversy surrounding the Christmas holiday. This all goes back to the basic history of Christmas, and how and why it was celebrated on December 25th. In our article, The History of Christmas, we take a look at the origins of Christmas. Pagan religions celebrated a variety of holidays around this time including the Winter Solstice. Because many converts were used to celebrating their major holiday around this time, Christian leaders made the decision to observe the birth of Christ at this time.
The next major controversy with Christmas was during the Puritan times. The Puritans felt that Christmas had far too many pagan symbols involved with it so they boycotted the holiday. Even the first pilgrims that came to America hated the holiday. In fact, the pilgrims built the first structure in America on Christmas Day, sort of as an homage to their disrespect for what the holiday came to resemble. This was also the attitude taken by Protestants in the Victorian era. Because of pagan influence on the holiday, there was a boycott on Christmas.
We take for granted what we have right now in terms of the celebration of the holiday, and a lot of that is a result of Charles Dickens. It is also the result of immigrants from the English and Dutch backgrounds that revived the holiday during the 19th century. Those two coupling factors brought the holiday back into everyday society and if it wasn’t for them, we most likely wouldn’t have Christmas celebrated to the extent that it is today.
In modern times, some of the focus in America at least has been on the observance of the holiday in a state vs. church perspective. This is something that is constantly bickered about from both sides. Another controversy is the idea of the emergence of “X-Mas”. One side of the argument believes that putting the X in place of Christ removes his importance from the holiday and makes it less religious. However, X is the symbol of the cross in Greek religion, and it is also a chi, which is a form of the symbol of Christ in Greece. It’s amazing how we can borrow concepts from other areas of the world for traditions, but we can’t understand why the X might be in place of Christ without losing our minds.
There has been a conceived “War on Christmas” in recent decades, and there are certainly arguments to be made on both sides. On one side, the concept of having to have something that you don’t believe in forced on you for a season seems wrong. On the other hand, there is so much about the holiday that has escaped a religious aspect that it almost seems absurd that the first argument has any bearing on the decision. Ultimately, it would be like a person who hates sports feeling forced into hearing about it because it’s such a large facet of life in pretty much every country. This has further intensified with retailers removing the term Christmas from their advertising and replacing it with holiday.
Then there is the downright silly. Starbucks has taken a lot of heat over the last several years for the design of their cups at Christmas. There was a large online backlash over this, but it didn’t deter Starbucks from keeping their red cups. There is some validation to the thought process though. If the holiday in which they are attempting to profit from occurs because of the celebration of a religious figure, there could still be a capitalistic homage to “the reason for the season”.
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