It’s that time of the year, when we start hectoring our neighbors about “Jesus being the reason for the season” and “keeping the Christ in Christmas.”
My question is whether we’ve already lost this fight.
On Monday, the Swagbucks site asked in its daily poll whether people like Christmas music. In the comments, one person complained that Christmas music is “too religious.” This was followed by some lecturing and “well duhs” from Christians.
Now, the absurdity of the complaint aside, we have to admit there are two kinds of Christmas in the United States.
There’s the cultural “Christmas” in which people spend money they don’t have to buy things their friends don’t need. They litter their yards with electric lights and inflatable Santas and then rig the whole thing up to a computer to synchronize the flashing of the lights to music by Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Then there’s the actual Christmas, in which people pause in the middle of their hectic lives to ponder the humble grace of a God who put on flesh to dwell among us, and who did so not by taking on the guise of a rich and powerful man, but by taking on the guise of an infant, born to a poor couple from a tiny, ill-thought-of village.
And let’s be honest—plenty of us celebrate both kinds.
But it does seem strange that these two festivals are called by the same name. They really are two different things. And what I really wonder about is whether pagans are as pissed off about us co-opting their Yule practices as we are about irreligious people co-opting ours.