Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Merry Christmas" is not a dirty word (okay, "words")

Via Shutterstock

Merry Christmas, dammit. That is not a religious statement to me. I may come from a Christian-based culture, but Christmas has far outgrown its origins as a religious holiday. It's secular to me. Pagan tree totems, Coca-Cola Santas, Rudolf cartoons... you can get through the entire season without once being filled with the Love of Christ. And I like it that way.

Our days of the week are named after gods who no longer hold sway over us, as they did over some of our ancestors. For a thousand plus years, as Christianity spread Borg-like through the western world, it assimilated all the sundry bits of tradition in found along the way. Finally, it met its match with the growing consumerism and over-the-top sentimentalism of the 19th Century, and the holiday we know today started to take shape.

Our Christmas is a Victorian invention. And it is a mostly secular thing now, celebrated by countless non- and ex-Christians around the world.

Sure, there are still people who enjoy the religious aspects. Great. But they no longer own the holiday. It is a cultural festival that belongs to everyone who wants to share a nice tradition of sharing time, gifts and food and drink with people during the year's darkest days.

Want an example that doesn't come from me? My brother David sent me a CBC article about this Christmas video made by international students from the University of Windsor:

I also love this quote from the article: "From all types of religions and beliefs and non-religions, too, nobody has ever felt bad about it," said international student advisor Henrique Chacon. "They feel included when somebody comes to them and says, 'merry Christmas.'"

Merry Christmas, Henrique. And Merry Christmas to the rest of you. You can keep your "Happy Holidays". I never did like generic brands.

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