Tonight the Tucson Atheists will gather over beer and bar food to plan their strategy on this year’s “War on Christmas.” We need to prepare. This year’s conflict might make previous skirmishes seem friendly. We’re dusting off all the Sun Tzu quotes like: “You have to believe in yourself” and “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” The opening barrage has been fired by the AFA (American Family Association.) It was the assembly of a color coded, damning list identifying which retailers are “Christmas friendly” or “naughty or nice.” They’ve made their list but they advise that people check back often. “They’re checking it twice.” (or more) They want to make sure that the retailers slather on the word “Christmas” in their print advertising as often as the AFA feels necessary. They have a special email account for reporting the businesses too, but they only want to hear about the nationally recognized businesses.
It seems to start earlier each year. This year the saber rattling began before the Halloween candy wrappers were cleaned up.
The whole idea is a straw man. Companies love the holiday season and they realize that a good percentage of their customers are not Christian. In an effort to be more inclusive, some retailers recommended that their employees use inclusive terms like “Happy Holidays” in their greetings and advertising fliers. Being more inclusive is interpreted as offensive by certain conservative talk show hosts and suddenly we have a “Christmas controversy.” There are some legitimate areas of concern, however. Public schools are not extensions of local church congregations. Public property and tax dollars should not be used to further any religious message. These are areas of concern for the Atheist, Agnostic, and Secularists. But as long as she gets the change right, I don’t care if a cashier wearing a crucifix over the world’s ugliest sweater depicting a manger, three wise men, some sheep, cattle, a star, and a proud young glowing couple tells me “Merry Christmas.” My response will always be “thank you” because I truly appreciate that she is there helping me with my purchase.
The holiday season containing Christmas and New Year would be celebrated if there was no Christianity, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. In a physical world defined by cyclical events, it is common to celebrate previous accomplishments and new beginnings. The real reason for the season is due to the activity of the Sun, that’s S-U-N. Winter Solstice occurs on or about December 21st. The solstice has been celebrated by various cultures for over 6,000 years. The Wikipedia list of solstice celebrations is quite extensive. In many, they are celebrations of the fact that the Sun is returning the next day with renewed strength. Another reference can be found here: December Solstice Traditions and Customs.
The “War on Christmas” is not a real thing within the freethinking community. The loud raucous sounds we hear are primarily from right wing fear mongers trying to convince the listening audience that they are losing something. But there is the underlying battle of separation of church and state that has no season. Therefore, let’s recognize it for what it is. It is the dying cry of conservatism trying to maintain the non-existent American homogeneous mono-culture and remember “E Pluribus Unum.”