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Image via Nick Mustoe

Here we go again. The Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings neutering of Christmas has begun and while I don’t like the generic naming of the season in the name of political correctness, I have no problem with taking Christ out of Christmas.

I’d actually encourage it to happen MORE.

I flipped through my radio dial this week and stumbled into one of the many stations that will be changing to all Christmas music for the next 6 weeks. Taylor Swift was singing Silent Night.

I changed the station as quickly as I could. It was a religious hymn on a non-religious radio station. The entire christian songbook as interpreted by modern musicians will be trotted out until the end of the year, and I’m not a fan. Silent Night, Away In A Manger, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, The First Noel etc etc etc.

They’re songs of worship. Songs of a religion that a shrinking percentage of the population follow. They’re songs that belong in a church, not on my radio. (Unless of course you are a specifically Christian radio station). It’s even more awkward when the religious theme clashes with the consumerism as the holy hymns blare through malls and grocery stores this time of year.

This is what people rail against in the censoring of Merry Christmas. In Canada we celebrate the Christmas season, but we all don’t necessarily celebrate the religious part of it. When the religion gets highlighted, the problems arise.

The spirit of Christmas is giving. It’s spending time with family. It’s charity. It’s feasting and parties. For some, it involves religious practice, but the Canadian tradition, while rooted in religion has evolved beyond it.

Many Canadians, while having beliefs outside Christianity choose to celebrate the season. And so they should. The Christmas tradition of families reuniting and children being captivated by the magic of giving is a special time.

I have argued with the post When In Rome, that we should embrace and celebrate all cultures and religions and their feasts. A greater understanding of each other is what brings us together.

In that tone, I would expect the mainstream stations to play songs of celebration for Eid, Diwali and Hannukah. Why do the Christian hymns get a free ride in mainstream media?

Bring on the chestnuts roasting over open fires, let it snow because baby it’s cold outside. But, frankly, I’d prefer a silent night without the herald angels singing.

For those who will be offended by me being offended, I point to this great argument in Deadspin against Tim Tebow‘s religious grandstanding:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. -[Matthew 6:5-6]

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  1. Blisssx November 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Unless you are a Christian, you have no business celebrating Christmas. You can call your orgy of spending and consumption whatever you want, but unless you believe that it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, it ain’t Christmas.

  2. Jay November 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    That verse doesn’t constitute a great argument at all, if you know anything about the context.

    That verse, in particular, dealt with the Pharisees making a giant production of their prayer and their righteousness; it had nothing to do with the fact that they were openly practicing or celebrating a religion. They believed God was smiling on their “holier than thou” attitude and their eloquent public displays. The problem was their pride, the problem was that they were “grandstanding” their devoutness.

    But that verse DOESN’T mean that Christians should keep their faith completely private, hide it from the mainstream and bury it into the private parts of their lives. In fact, you’ll find throughout that exact same book you’re quoting several verses which call Christians to share their faith with others and not to be ashamed of it.

    That’s not me being a butthurt Christian – just pointing out that your “great argument” stems from a complete misinterpretation.

  3. Buzz November 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hey Jay, thanks for reading and commenting.

    I’m aware of the context of the passage and it’s a great argument against what Tim Tebow does every Sunday.

    I’m just asking that hymns be kept in the church.

  4. Lace November 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Jesus and if people have a huge problem with the word CHRISTmas then why did they start celebrating it in the first place??? I think that is a great question you need to ask yourself when it has ALWAYS been a religious celebration. So people who knowingly know the meaning of Christmas before it’s celebrated want to change it why?? To start controversy and change things that aren’t rightfully theirs to change!!!

  5. Angela November 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Buzz, I love ya, but come on now.

    Interesting how folks are on board to take the time off from work with pay, shop ’til they drop, partake in community Chrismas activities, etc etc etc, yet take issue with the “Christ” in Christmas.

    Can’t have it both ways my friends.

  6. Buzz November 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I think you’ve missed my point. I love all the Christmas season has to stand for in it’s modern incarnation. Charity, family, community. The magical imagination of children this time of year. I love all of it.

    My point is more the religious aspect that drifts into the mainstream. I don’t need to hear Silent Night on my mainstream radio station or The First Noel when I’m doing groceries.

    Christmas is not a religious holiday anymore, it’s more than that and so the religious part needs to be saved for the places where religion is celebrated instead of being broadcast in the mainstream.

  7. The Invisible Hand December 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    No, it doesn’t. People are free to publicly celebrate the Christian (or Jewish, Hindu, etc) aspects of their holidays if they wish. Radio stations are free to play religious carols.

    “I changed the station as quickly as I could.”

    Problem solved.

  8. Buzz December 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Actually no, ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

  9. Roger December 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I blogger I read posted this a while back:

    “I’m willing to wish you Happy Hannukah, Happy Diwali or Gung Hei Fat Choy. If that’s what you celebrate, good for you. Bring your culture here and let’s have yet another reason to feast and party in the city.”

    I prefer that kind of understanding when it comes to festivals that one doesn’t celebrate.

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  11. Buzz December 20, 2011 at 7:04 am

    My argument is that personal spirituality has superceded religious beliefs. We all have a much more personal relationship with the day than any mass produced, man made religion could decide.

    The death of Christopher Hitchens is once again shining a great light on this debate as the world’s most beloved atheist’s words are making their way round again.

    ‘The essence of the war over Christmas is the more basic disagreement over the proper expression of religion in the public square. Even if the founders in general never envisioned that the Constitution would be interpreted to mean that no nativity scenes could appear on state-owned premises, is this the actual implication of the establishment and free exercise clauses? Do nativity scenes on City Hall lawns, and Christmas trees in schools, and even the words “Merry Christmas” in government offices, amount to tax-supported endorsements of a particular religion?”

    THAT is my point.

  12. Dex December 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I am like you. I could do without all the religious stuff because I simply don’t believe it. But at the end of the day, Christmas is still a Christian holiday. If we choose to celebrate it in our own way, that’s fine. However, we must also accept that sometimes our favourite radio station will play a song about a baby who was born of a virgin. We might have to hear someone at the mall hypocritically tell their kids about the “true meaning of Christmas” while waiting in line to see Santa Claus, who has about as much to do with the “true meaning of Christmas” as a dump I took in July. It’s just another part of the season, the way I see it.

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  14. 2012 Camera Christmas Deals December 10, 2012 at 4:53 am

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  15. LA December 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

    As an atheist that was raised in a Christian household, I have a hard time “letting go” of the more religiously-themed Christmas carols and traditions. So, I have decided to look at it like this: we sing songs about Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman (for example), understanding that it is just a story. There is no reason to look at the overtly religious any differently. They are songs about myths that are a part of our culture, and so I will continue to sing along, and enjoy (so long as they aren’t played before December 1st!) without feeling like a hypocrite.

    This article was posted on Richard Dawkin’s website at the beginning of the month. I strongly responded to this atheist’s view of Christmas, and I think you will find it interesting:

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  18. rebecca December 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I am sorry that is totally ridiculous. If you are celebrating Christmas what is the big deal about hearing silent night on the radio? Even if you aren’t religious you can still enjoy a beautiful Christmas carol even if it is religious. Does that mean Christian rock only belongs on Christian stations? What about creed? Geeze being overally politically correct is boring. Be respectful, try and experience/expose your kids to as much culture as you can and relax.

  19. rebeccea December 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    So Dex….someone can’t tell their kid about “the true meaning of Christmas” and see Santa? Why does that make them a hypocrite? Why so judge? Can’t someone celebrate both the religious and commercial aspects of Christmas?

  20. Buzz December 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    It’s not being ‘overly politically correct’, it’s respecting that we no longer live in a mono-theistic society. You can have your silent nights and angel harking, in church. It’s not appropriate in mainstream media.

    As for exposing my kids to culture? I’m not an ignorant luddite. My children will experience the width and breadth of this planet as they understand the cultures within and the wonders of science. I’m on it, thanks for your concern as I was eagerly awaiting your advice.

  21. Suzi December 6, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I like most of your articles and sorry but this one is a dumb one… and yes feel offended by that because thats in fact an offense not by a song on the radio. All this issue with people about feeling offended by someone saying Merry Christmas or a kid wearing a costume on Halloween is getting out of control and that’s why we have the problems we have in this world. Live and let others live.

  22. Buzz December 6, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    We live in a polytheological, multicultural society, not a Christian one. A secular, generic version of Christmas dominating culture makes it accessible to all. More Santa, less Jeebus, celebrate family and giving. If you want to do the manger thing? Fine – do it in church or at home, not on the street corner. THAT’S the point.

    Easter Bunnies and Halloween costumes and Santa have no religious attribution. Making these things the focus of the holidays gives us all a common thread to celebrate at various times of the year, no matter which version of the flying spaghetti monster you need to believe in.

  23. Bryan December 7, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Though I do not agree with your perspective on Christ and Christmas I do find it sort of a great way of instigating interactions on your blog so cudos.

    Here is something to think about in regards to reason and law in Canada as it pertains to freedom of religious expression. “A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society – one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal,” 5 BC Supreme Court Justices recently.

    Buzz you are free to your option and it may even be shared by a large swath of Canadians. You can choose with your fingers to change the station. Or not shop at that store play hymns or even turn off the TV when Tim Tebow prays. Insisting that Christ be stricken from Christmas is an illiberal viewpoint according to standing legal precedent. It is a great conversation however.

  24. Buzz December 7, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Encouraging a more secular celebration that involves family and giving, allows for Christmas to be celebrated by atheists, and people of all religious stripes.

    You want to go to church? Fine. You want to have a nativity on your lawn? Fine. Nobody is restricting your personal right to celebrate Christmas how you want. But to say “Christmas is only Christ” and to demand your mythology dominate in the public sphere ignores the polytheological / multicultural nature of modern Canada.

    Shopping malls, city halls, radio, and tv, should stick to the secular side of the celebration so that Christmas, like Easter and Halloween, can become more of a cultural celebration that we can all partake instead of a Christian privilege that shuns those who choose not to share in that mythology.

    I’m not telling *you* to not have a religious Christmas, I’m saying the public culture of Christmas needs something *all* can celebrate and rally around creating a common understanding. More secularization in the public sphere gives us a common culture to rally around, more religious/Christian iconography in public serves to only segregate. I want more togetherness.

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