THE BLOG
12/14/2005 09:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Last Word on the Christmas Follies

There was a piece by Adam Cohen in the NYTimes of 12/4 that makes nonsense of this phony “tradionalist” defense of Christmas by cultural warriors on the right. It deserves wider circulation. Of course, historical truth is of no interest to these defenders of Christmas—they never look beyond their own experience and polemical convenience and the feeling that what they represent has lost its dominance. But it might interest people who care about how things actually are and were, especially educators and students. The link provided is for Lexis-Nexis, which I gather not everyone can access that easily, so here are some highlight quotes:

“Christmas's self-proclaimed defenders are rewriting the holiday's history. They claim that the ''traditional'' American Christmas is under attack...The Puritans considered Christmas un-Christian, and hoped to keep it out of America. They could not find Dec. 25 in the Bible, their sole source of religious guidance, and insisted that the date derived from Saturnalia, the Roman heathens' wintertime celebration...From 1659 to 1681 Massachusetts went further, making celebrating Christmas ''by forbearing of labor, feasting or in any other way'' a crime...In 1827, an Episcopal bishop lamented that the Devil had stolen Christmas ''and converted it into a day of worldly festivity, shooting and swearing.'' ... As late as 1855, New York newspapers reported that Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches were closed on Dec. 25 because ''they do not accept the day as a Holy One.''...By the 1920's, the retail industry had adopted Christmas as its own, sponsoring annual ceremonies to kick off the ''Christmas shopping season.''...Religious leaders objected strongly. The Christmas that emerged had an inherent tension: merchants tried to make it about buying, while clergymen tried to keep commerce out. A 1931 Times roundup of Christmas sermons reported a common theme: ''the suggestion that Christmas could not survive if Christ were thrust into the background by materialism.'' A 1953 Methodist sermon broadcast on NBC -- typical of countless such sermons -- lamented that Christmas had become a ''profit-seeking period.''...This year's Christmas ''defenders'' are not just tolerating commercialization -- they're insisting on it.”

You get the drift. But, again, this is just historical truth. The likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly (these enemies of relativism) don’t care about historical truth. It doesn’t fit the fuzzy sentimentality of their personal memories of growing up American, the touchstone of their own goodness, the mythic baseline they use to convince constituents that they are all somehow victims of a culture of diversity and genuine consideration for people who are different from them and theirs.

But, yikes, what would Jesus say about that?

Really, just imagine. What would He say?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

Tom