The air is biting cold, snow is on the ground, and houses are adorned with colorful lights; it can only mean one thing. It is time for the War on Christmas, or the War Opposing the War on Christmas, or the War Mocking the War Opposing the War on Christmas. Nevertheless it is the season of good cheer. Unfortunately it is a familiar story now. The secular left wants to remove all religious themed displays from the public sphere—except for the pagan and materialistic (perhaps another post) ones that is. The religious right fights to put all the displays back and declares a War on Christmas. Suddenly any utterance of the phrase “Happy Holidays” becomes an act of heresy and disrespect towards the all-powerful Creator. I personally get tired of saying, “Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, (occasionally) Ramadan, Solstice, New Year, or Boxing Day.” “Happy Holidays” seems to speed up my encounters with the gas station cashier. Anyway, in turn, the secular left pokes fun at the religious right for overreacting and calmly calls them ignorant, greedy, hypocritical religious fanatics. Merry Christmas!
Currently in the Orthodox Church, we are in the middle of our Advent Fast; forty days of refraining from eating all animal byproducts (we become vegan basically) and increasing our time of prayer is how we prepare for The Nativity of Christ. At our parish we will have a Divine Liturgy Christmas Eve morning, a Christmas Eve Vigil, and then we break the fast after liturgy Christmas morning. This fast is very hard to keep especially here in America since Thanksgiving falls in the middle of it and everyone is having holiday parties. I certainly do not keep it the best I could, but I appreciate the constant reminder of what exactly all these decorations are for.
In the Christian tradition, Christmas is when we celebrate the Incarnation of the Word of God. The Creator of the Universe entered into His world just like every other human being, through a birth canal, and this happened in a place where livestock ate. He came here in order to one day suffer and die for His creation, defeating death and lifting humanity back into union with God. The Incarnation is a cosmic act of humility and during this time of year we prepare for, then celebrate the history changing event.
Considering the actual meaning of Christmas, I would prefer if those using the phrase “Merry Christmas” did not use it for a marketing tool or a political talking point. Crowds trample each other at Best Buy and Wal-Mart on Black Friday in preparation for Christmas. Please retail shops, do not display the name of my God on your shelves during this orgy of greed. Politicians cater to their constituents by labeling any display of “Happy Holidays” as a War on Christmas. Please politicians, do not use this holiday in an attempt to sway the voters thus using the name of my God in vain. Christians, stand up against the absolute desecration of the Feast of the Nativity by refusing to participate in the commercialization of one of the most Holy days of the year. Fortify your faith with fasting and prayer so that we may remember what exactly we are celebrating. Direct your attention away from those who utter the words “Merry Christmas” for the purpose of increasing sales or furthering political careers, and show the world the cosmic humility we are gazing upon in the manger.