The War on Christmas is a load of bull. Here’s why…

Patrick Kane, World News Editor

Christmas is often referred to as, “The most wonderful time of the year,” and for very good reason. While I admit, when push comes to shove, I’m more of a Halloween guy myself. I, like most people, hold a special love for this time of year. Whether you’re religious or not, we can all agree that the universal reasons for the season, like goodwill towards your fellow man and the spirit of generosity, is a beat we can all dance to.

Unfortunately, this writing isn’t about all that warm, fuzzy feel-good stuff. This is about the exact same culture war crap that pops up the second Thanksgiving ends every year. Where you have to endure that one uncle (you know which one) going on and on on Facebook (or Meta, or whatever it’s going on there nowadays) about the fact that the Walmart cashier said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” It’s when your YouTube news recommendations get filled with videos of Laura Ingraham ranting about those goshdarn liberals and their Nondenominational Winter Holidays.

I’m talking about the War on Christmas.

This conflict finds its beginnings in the mid-2000s, when then-Fox News posterboy Bill O’Reilly promoted the book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse than You Thought”, by conservative radio pundit John Gibson. The book essentially says the left is “taking the Christ out of Christmas,” and it is up to every good Christian to remember the true reason for the season.

Since then, it has been a yearly tradition on the Fox Network and other conservative news sources to claim every holiday season is yet another campaign between good, everyday God-fearing Christians and those evil secularists who want to give Jesus the boot. And this imaginary conflict has produced some truly amazing moments, like when Tulsa, Oklahoma had a “holiday” parade instead of a Christmas parade, and O’Reilly thought that was a big no-no.

And who can forget during the 2012 Republican presidential primary when Gretchen Carlson thought that the War on Christmas warranted an entire debate question. Not like there were more pressing issues or anything, like the economy or the war in Iraq. 

And let us acknowledge Megyn Kelly’s relentless battle to remind everyone that Santa Claus, the fictional entity (note: anyone under the age of 10 who is reading this, Santa is absolutely real and I’m just old and miserable) and Jesus Christ, the ancient Middle Eastern Jew, are both white, and anyone who says otherwise is a liberal snowflake trying to cancel Christmas.

Add on to that other, more recent controversies. I think we can distinctly remember the mid-2010s, when the biggest crime against humanity was the fact that Starbucks was replacing their typical Christmas cups with plain, solid red ones. Additionally, during the time of this writing, the Fox News Christmas tree in New York City caught fire, which the network did not hesitate to weave into a tragic tale of persecution and victimhood.

The War on Christmas has grown from a media controversy to a full-fledged political force. A November poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that an increasing number of Americans believe in an organized effort to, “remove the religious elements of the Christian holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus.” Additionally, former President Donald Trump, like most right-wing culture war stuff, embraced the War on Christmas narrative as something he could win once and for all. This culminated during the early stages of the 2020 campaign, where he declared that “[Americans] are going to say Merry Christmas again.”

With all this in mind, you might think that, overblown or not, there might be perhaps a sliver of legitimacy to this narrative.

There’s not. None whatsoever. It’s fake. False. Incorrect. Does not compute.

The War on Christmas, like most culture war issues, is an overblown manufactured controversy meant to rile up conservative Christians every December. While it is absolutely true that governments and private businesses are becoming increasingly secular when it comes to the holidays, I would ask: is this necessarily a bad thing?

In the United States, 65% of the population identifies as Christian. While this is just shy of a supermajority, it is overwhelming. However, that also leaves 35% who are of another faith or no faith at all. And what War on Christmas believers are angry about is the fact that that 35% is starting to get some attention. Businesses are recognizing that their consumer base is getting more diverse, and are acting accordingly. Meanwhile, separation of church and state exists for a reason, as the government cannot explicitly endorse one religion over another. As such, governments (federal, state and local) are beginning to secularize during the holiday season. 

Once again, this is not a bad thing. I believe that a diverse society is a better, more fruitful society. It takes many different trees to make a forest. And the growing push to secularize is simply a recognition of that fact. Additionally, no one is pointing a gun to your head and saying you can’t say Merry Christmas or celebrate Christmas. 

Christmas is near-universally celebrated by popular American society, religiously or not. Despite it becoming less and less explicit in the general eye, everyone knows that Christmas (which borrows a lot from pagan winter holidays, by the way. Jesus was born in September) is the celebration of the birth of the Christian Messiah. Literally everyone knows this. The problem lies within this culture of wannabe victimhood typical of conservatives, where they want so desperately to be oppressed in any way, shape or form.

I think it also comes down to entitlement. Some people hear “Happy Holidays” and take it as an assault on their faith, and by extension, them. Call it my upbringing (which was Catholic, for the record, even if I don’t necessarily identify as such anymore) or maybe just my general vibe, but if someone says Merry Christmas to me, I say Merry Christmas. If someone says Happy Hannakuh, I say Happy Hannakuh. If someone says Happy Kwanzaa, so on and so forth. “Happy Holidays” encompasses all of that. 

It is simply a way we wish merriment upon each other in a broad sense. It’s not a secret secular buzzword meant to symbolize the death of Christianity. It’s a well-wish. If someone tells you “Happy Holidays” and you respond “Merry Christmas,” the number of people offended will literally be zero. Malice has been applied to where none existed to begin with.

Ultimately, the War on Christmas is yet another example of a conservative culture war issue being manufactured out of thin air. Think of this example: one of the G.O.A.T. Christmas specials, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which is played every year on all the major networks, literally focuses on a nativity play and ends with the characters singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” a very religious Christmas carol. The religious focus of the holiday is not unknown or even attempted to be hidden. It is just simply no longer the only thing about the holiday.

Christmas can have many different meanings. Whether your ideal Christmas is attending midnight Mass and then doing a round of presents with the kids, or spending the day watching Christmas specials and passing out after a little too much eggnog, Christmas is about being with the ones you love and giving rather than receiving. And at the end of the day, that’s a beat we can all dance to, right?

Happy Holidays, to one and all.