I was planning to write about this even before this latest thing about the supposed "War on Christmas" made the news again because of this year's Starbucks holiday season cup, but my original idea was to do it closer to December 25. Tonight, however, it seems that "now" is the right time for this post.
We just left our local Starbucks a little while ago, after going there for some delicious after-dinner coffee. I visit one of their stores every day for my beloved venti iced coffee fixed just the way I like it (when Ken is with me, he usually orders something different every time).
I like to go to Starbucks with my mac and write or get caught up on social media, and since I no longer have office space, I also do a lot of my counseling appointments there.
I love all things Starbucks.
Tonight while we were there, I noticed that they were selling both a Christmas coffee blend, and a large Advent Calendar, as they do every year. After we finished our coffee, we got in the car and I turned on sirius radio to listen to one of the two holiday channels that they have this year. I noted that Channel 13 was playing Bing Crosby's cover of 'The Little Drummer Boy', (a song about the birth of Jesus), and then I turned it over to see what they were playing on Channel 18, and heard some orchestra's rendition of 'What Child is This?' (yet another song about the birth of Jesus). Both of these Channels play at least as many songs about the Nativity, 24 hours a day, as they do songs about Santa Claus and reindeer and snow.
I suppose that we all see what we're looking for, and since I have no religious paranoia and am not constantly on the lookout for a politically correct "War on Christmas", I just don't see it. In fact, I see Christmas being observed earlier and earlier every year, and I hear songs about the birth of the Christ-child being played in every store, restaurant or mall that I patronize.
But I also hear the phrases, "Let's put Christ back in Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season" quite a bit from some Christians who think that there is a grand plot to banish it, altogether, and that's what I want to address here.
First of all, "Christ" (as in Jesus Christ) wasn't initially even in what we now know as Christmas, so technically, Jesus wasn't originally the "reason for the season".
The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals that were all rooted in paganism, and were celebrated for centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The Church in later centuries made it a habit to "Christianize" all of the pagan holidays and festivals, which is why Christmas includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra, and why we have christmas trees (which came from the druids), and why we have the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs, which have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus.
Historians believe that Jesus was actually born the first week of April. We only celebrate Christmas on December 25 because of the Winter Solstice and the ancient pre-Christian winter festivals which took place on or around that date. That's why we sing songs like 'Jingle Bells', 'White Christmas', 'Winter Wonderland', 'Frosty the Snowman', 'Let it Snow', 'Baby it's Cold Outside', 'Marshmallow World', etc, which are all about winter and snow (and have nothing to do with Jesus), only at Christmas time.
Secondly, Jesus never told His disciples or any of His followers to celebrate His birthday. I'm not saying it's not a good thing to celebrate it, just that it doesn't seem like it mattered to Him.
I could go on about Nativity scenes that don't look anything like what it actually/probably looked like when Jesus was born, and why it doesn't matter to me if they aren't put up in public places. I don't care, and furthermore, I really don't think Jesus cares, either.
Jesus isn't in competition with Santa Claus (whose myth is based on the real Bishop, Saint Nicholas), and I don't think He's worried that His "birthday" isn't all about Him. It never was, really, at least not on December 25. And I REALLY don't think that He cares about what a Starbucks cup looks like!
If your Jesus is all whiny about that kind of stuff, then more power to ya, but that's not the Jesus that I know. The Jesus I know through the Scriptures and by the Spirit has a much different set of priorities. I also don't think that He would want His "birthday" celebration crammed down the throats of people who may see Him differently.
I love all things Christmas.
Every carol is my favorite.
It doesn't matter to me that Jesus was actually born in April.
It doesn't matter to me when He was born, because the Daystar has already risen in my heart, and that reality isn't limited to a day or even to a season.
I'm happy to celebrate the Incarnation whenever.
I see nothing wrong with saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", because to me it's simply a salutation that refers to all the events of December and January, including "Happy New Year".
I see nothing at all sinister or evil about an elegantly simple red coffee cup.
If there's a "War on Christmas", I just don't see it.
Maybe I've been drinking too much coffee.