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Winter Holidays vs. Christmas(40 posts)

Winter Holidays vs. Christmasempacher6seat
Dec 9, 2002 6:48 PM
There's been quite a debate going on 'round here. From what I understand, some minority groups feel they are offended by the widespread use of the Christmas holidays and feel their religion is left out. They argue Canada is a multicultrual country, so one religion shouldn't be promoted predominately over others. Now local businesses are scrambling to take down christmas signs and put up banners celebrating "winter holidays" in attempts to not offend anyone.

This is an especially hot topic when it comes to celebrating holidays in school. Personally, I think by eliminating religon from this time of year, everyone is excluded from the celebrations. I'm not religious myself, but when I was in highschool (2 years ago) in december there were Xmas lights and trees around the hall, but none of the kids from minority religions were "offended" or "left out". In fact, it was a chance for them to educate their friends about their family's religious beliefs. At one Christmas concert the guitarist of the school band played Adam Sandler's Chanuka Song and the place went wild!

Do you feel all the reconfigutation of the holiday season is justified?
typo: Hanukkahempacher6seat
Dec 9, 2002 6:49 PM
same in Americatao
Dec 9, 2002 9:23 PM
my best Bill Mahr impersonation, comic effect notwithstanding:

The same debate has been brewing in America for several years. It's ironic that winter holidays can be just as offensive, albeit perhaps to not as many. Holiday comes from an old English word meaning, surprise, Holy Day. If you're not that holy or don't celebrate on the same day or for the right number of days than I guess that's also reason to feel excluded. And what pc term do you use in the Southern Hemisphere to distinguish from summer "Vacations". Not to mention that winter itself is defined by a date on a calendar now more Judeo-Christian than Julian.

I guess it's nice that the argument can be brought up by the offended without the threat of violence or death. Imagine a Jew in Saudi Arabia declaring that public displays of religious recognition of Ramadan make him feel uncomfortable and should be stopped. Right or wrong, Christmas is a Federal Holiday in the US, I don't know about Canada. And that never bothered me, but it seems odd now that many counties and states forbid the observance in public schools or buildings. Maybe one-day kids will get off the Day that must never be mentioned by name.

What bothers me most, and is the least pc, is the apparent lack of assimilation by current immigrants. I don't mean that recent immigrants should stop practicing or ignore whatever "customs" are important culturally or otherwise, but that more effort should be made to accept that a different country/people will inherently have different customs. Isn't that in fact what we're supposed to celebrate? Is it really possible that people from 190 different countries can all come to N. America and still feel like they're at "home"? Should that even be a goal? Is English offending, or driving on the right side of the road, and what about the right to say Allah was a bigamist?
metling pot...ClydeTri
Dec 10, 2002 6:56 AM
The US is/was called a melting pot..where immigrants from all over the world came to the US to live, and to become Americans.Thus, their cultures were thrown into the pot to become our unique American culture. They became Americans, maybe with an accent or different food on the table than their neighbors down the street, but Americans. They learned the language, they played the sports such as baseball that brought people together.

Now, immigrants move here, want to retain their culture, their language. They dont want to be Americans. They want to be Mexicans, French, whatever living in America taking advantage of our society, our culture, our jobs, but, they dont want to become Americans. They refuse to learn our language, they refuse to accept our customs. If I moved to Germany, I accept that I should learn the German langauage as quickly as possible so I could function in THEIR society. I would accept that they have their customs, I would NOT expect them to change THEIR customs because I might be offended. Yes, Virginia, times have changed, and not for the best.
Grow up.TJeanloz
Dec 10, 2002 7:33 AM
Is Christmas an American holiday? Not really, its celebration was banned in many of the original colonies, and revived by an influx of immigrants who refused to assimilate their traditional ways. A lot of people seem to categorize Americans as white, english-speaking, and Christian. We're not, and never have been. There are generations of people of Chinese descent in America who have maintained their culture, and are as American as anybody who is white, english-speaking, and Cristian. It's time for people to realize that being 'American' has little to do with a culture, race, or language, and has everything to do with common acceptance of all people.

Americans have no distinct culture, no jobs, and no society. What we have has been granted by the grace of our immigrants, and we shouldn't close the door to people for fear that they change.
Dec 10, 2002 8:06 AM
There is an american culture, a society, american foods, american music (heard of jazz or blues?)....My post was not directed towards Christmas in particular. Nor did I say America was white, but, we do have a distinct culture as any country that has been around for any period of time. As somebody said, if I was in Saudia Arabia, I would not say I was offended by Ramadan celebrations nor demand they take down public recognition of same, but recognize I was in Saudia Arabia and respect their culture.
But Saudi Arabia doesn't claim freedom of religion-TJeanloz
Dec 10, 2002 9:15 AM
The difference is that Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country; the United States claims to not have a state religion. If we are going to say that we don't discriminate on the basis of religion, than how can we afford some religions a Federal holiday, while others don't get recognized? Saudi Arabia doesn't have this issue, because they don't claim that they won't discriminate on the basis of religion.
read your history....ClydeTri
Dec 10, 2002 9:57 AM
The US was founded by religious people who believed in religion being out and open. They did not want a state sponsored religion. Our founding documents talk about a superior being,God, and higher rights. Having a Nativity scene at a local town hall does not descrimintate against anybody nor is anybody prohibited from their free expression of religion by same. The founding fathers clearly did NOT want religion out of the government as Congress and the Supreme Court throughout history have opened with a prayer. It has been in the last 40 to 50 years when people have misconstrued the first amendment.
I'm fully aware of my history,TJeanloz
Dec 10, 2002 10:06 AM
There is no question that the Founding Fathers believed in God [in the Christian sense], there is also no question that they wanted to ensure that people would not be persecuted for their religious beliefs, even if different from their own. I agree that having a nativity scene does not discriminate, but it does imply state sponsership of religion, particularly if the town hall doesn't allow, say a menorah. However, in at least one case, we are talking about discrimination. The government favors those who celebrate Christmas by giving everybody Christmas Day off. No other religious celebration is afforded the same benefit, which makes it a clear case of favoritism of a particular religion. If we call it a "Winter Holiday" the day off can be construed to recognize that virtually every religion has a late fall/early winter holiday that is being treated equally by the state.
Which "founding documents" are you talking about?czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 10:53 AM
Certainly not the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Is it the Declaration of Independance, with its single reference to "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God"?
re: Which "founding documents" are you talking about?tao
Dec 10, 2002 11:08 AM
Article VII of the Constitution, in the ratification process says "our Lord". The Federalist papers are full of references to Lord and God. And isn't the establishment clause itself a compromise to get the Quakers into the union?
re: Which "founding documents" are you talking about?ClydeTri
Dec 10, 2002 11:15 AM
plus mention in the Article of Conferacy , and no, not the confederacy of the south in the mid 1800s...
There is a bit of context to that.czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 11:35 AM
"Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,"

Sounds more like a contemporary figure of speech than anything. Are you construing that as some kind of declaration of Christian identity?

Are the Federalist Papers considered founding documents?
Dec 10, 2002 12:43 PM
I wouldn't go as far as saying it's a declaration of Christian identity specifically, but the phrasing seems intentional and could easily have been left out without any loss of meaning. Anybody know if there were arguments regarding this word choice at the time?

I really don't know how the Federalist Papers are classified but I know they were documents written by some of the founders in support of the Constitution to garner approval in areas that were initially skeptical. Madison's efforts, though not easy to read, provide a closer look into his thoughts than can be guessed from the context of the Constitution. If only all the founders left behind such a detailed record the courts and morons like ourselves wouldn't have to guess at the underlying meaning of certain subtle phrases. Or maybe the intended idea is to have no interpretation at all?
Dec 10, 2002 12:54 PM
Even if the Federalist Papers are littered with religious references, can we infer any preference on the part of the authors? After all, they were trying to sell the idea.
re: Salesmanship.tao
Dec 10, 2002 1:32 PM
Sell is a strong word, even when italicized. You make it sound like Madison and Hamilton were hawking colonial widgets. I've never tried to sell anyone anything while discussing the finer points of expectation of privacy. Though maybe I'd be rich if someone was required to give me money every time I made a decent argument, maybe you're on to something.

I'd tend to agree with you if Madison's arguments in the papers differed from the Constitution or from his detailed accounts of the Continental Congress. I've never heard such an argument before. Or if, as you suggest, Madison actually had some financial stake in the "sale" of Constitution.
That is to say. . .czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 1:47 PM
. . .playing up the Constitution by describing it in terms that would most appeal to the audience in question.

And what can we infer about Madison from his "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments" of 1785?
re: That is to say. . .tao
Dec 10, 2002 1:53 PM
I knew what you meant, I just took offense to the word choice. I'm not familiar with the piece you mention, I'll read it and get back to you...
No offense intended! (nm)czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 2:02 PM
good readtao
Dec 10, 2002 2:49 PM
Wow, one of the best arguments I've heard, read actually, against state sponsored religion, specifically a proposed Virginia tax to pay for religious teachers. Have to say I agree with it all, but I'm still not sure that 5 USC 6103 (the law recognizing Christmas as a Federal Holiday) necessarily conflicts with this. And changing the name and still observing the day doesn't mitigate any potential conflict in my mind either.

Did you know this piece off the top of your head? And why the 'czar' spelling over 'sar', I've often wondered and still don't get it?
re: good readczardonic
Dec 10, 2002 3:30 PM
I am not a Christian, but I have always celebrated "Christmas", i.e. gift-giving, family, Santa Claus, candy canes, etc. It has become so secularized that I think any objection to it on religious grounds is moot. And how often do the same people object to getting Sunday off? If anyone should be agitated, I would think it would be Christians who have had the significance of a holy day diminished. It sould probably be re-named, but I don't personally care either way. A day off is a day off.

This site has an interesting inventory of pro-Seperation citations, including this peice from Madison: There are probably counter-arguments to a lot of what they claim, but they refer to some useful primary sources.

As for 'czar', 'sar' was already taken on the forum I originally created the login for.
Which "founding documents" are you talking about?ClydeTri
Dec 10, 2002 11:12 AM
From the declaration of independence (all quotes below here):
Laws of Nature and of Nature's God

endowed by their Creator

with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence

sacred Honor

and multiple references in the federalist papers, which while not being the official documents, are documents of the founding fathers reflecting their views of government
And yet, no mention of Christ. Curious (nm).czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 11:29 AM
Check the state constitutionsDJB
Dec 10, 2002 6:42 PM
The U.S. Constitution is fairly silent on religion only because it was a subject left up to the states.
The Bible is pretty pro-religion too.czardonic
Dec 10, 2002 6:56 PM
What is your point?

The Constitution is not "fairly silent" on religion. It is the first thing mentioned in the Bill of Rights.
That's not what you said earlier.DJB
Dec 10, 2002 7:25 PM
"Certainly not the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Is it the Declaration of Independance, with its single reference to "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God"?"

Also: "And yet, no mention of Christ. Curious"

I think it's fair to include State Constitutions as "founding documents" when you're looking to see the mindset of those who started this country.

"The Bible is pretty pro-religion too" What is your point?
Wishful thinking.czardonic
Dec 11, 2002 10:53 AM
How is it fair to include State Constitutions, some of which were instituted decades after the founding of this country, as "founding documents"? Like the Bible, while they reflect the beleifs of many people of the day, they are not the documents on which this nation was founded.

There is no mention of Christ in the Declaration or Constitution. Is that a matter of dispute? There is a single mention of "Nature's God", and one to the "year of our Lord". Neither of those, in the context of a document that very stridently declared the rights and principles upon which a just government should be based, can be reasonably interpreted as a declaration of Christian identity and sanction of statel level theocracy.

The "mindset" that you are referring too is exactly what the founders had the foresight to limit in the Bill of Rights. Obviously, there were many who didn't see the wisdom of seperating Church and State. If you are still unconvinced, I suggest you read James Madison's principled, Christian rebuttal to efforts to undermine the First Amendment with state legislation:
Dec 10, 2002 8:21 AM
point re assimiltaion vs maintaining identity of minority groups - it's pretty complex

both approaches appear in different places - both have failures - both have successes
Dec 10, 2002 8:38 AM
It's ironic that Christmas holidays are under fire because the fundamentalist Christians have succeeded in banning all mention of Halloween in the public schools where I live. My wife is a teacher and Halloween used to be one of the most popular holidays with kids. But the school system banned all mention of the Halloween under pressure from fundamentalists. Now I'm sure the fundamentalists are outraged that anyone would want to stop the schools from celebrating Christmas. What goes around comes around.
Dec 10, 2002 9:58 AM
and..correct me if I am wrong, but isnt Halloween an offshoot of a Catholic celebration(or better word?) of All Hallows Eve?
actually ...tarwheel
Dec 11, 2002 11:48 AM
I think Halloween originally was a pagan or Celtic celebration. The Catholic church created All Saint's Day (or was it All Soul's Day?) as a holy day on November 1 to counter Halloween. ... I went to Catholic schools through the 8th grade and we were versed in such matters.
I wish i was jewish.Sintesi
Dec 10, 2002 9:58 AM
My old professor got the Jewish holidays off w/ pay, because the university didn't want to discriminate against her, and got the Christmas holidays off as well because the school was closed. How cool is that? That is a great angle.
There's a price....sn69
Dec 10, 2002 10:59 AM
Namely, my mother. Don't get me wrong, I love her to death...but 12 years into a military career, dontcha think it's time she stopped with the "you shoulda been a doctor" bit?! Can you imagine your mother actually calling your COs to ask if her some was eating enough?! Should I even tell you how she reacted when I raced my first full IM?

Actually, I've never taken time off for Jewish holidays. I still celebrate certain ones, but I've never asked for days off from work for the High Holidays or anything. There's always too much to get done or a sortee to fly. However, it's nice to know that my commands would have always supported my request not only due to regulations, but also because it's the right thing to do.

Incidentally, I've always volunteered for duty on X-mas day and Easter. I figured it was the nice thing to do since those days have no meaning for me. Still, as a kid, X-mas was always a strange period. Sure, I'd get eight days of gifts, but the season nonetheless always made me feel a little bit like an outsider looking in.

Today? My wife is Protestant. We do both; we decorate the house; and, we (I!) hang lights and decorations outside. We do not, however, do a tree...but not for the reasons you might assume. We've got a 1.5 yr old lab puppy at home. I'm pretty sure that in her world, a Christmas tree equates to a big chew toy!
re: Winter Holidays vs. ChristmasDougSloan
Dec 10, 2002 10:01 AM
I think it's very sad that Christmas might get edged out in efforts to become a totally secular public society. Right or wrong, there is no doubt an overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. are Christian, want Christmas to be a public celebration, and at the same time are adamantly supportive of freedom of religion.

Allowing a holiday to be assiciated with a certain religion does not harmfully discriminate against atheists or members of other religions. Jews, for example, are free to take off days they choose for religious holidays (at least to the extent they don't have an essential job that would keep them working on Christmas day as well). There is nothing about Christmas being a holiday that can be offensive -- you don't like it, you don't have to observe it. The overwhelming majority of people here do like it, even if it is observed in a completely secular fashion (for example, Santa Claus).

People from other countries want to preserve their culture; fine, so be it; but what if we want to preserve ours, too?! Is that not permitted? Must the native Americans (i.e., those born here) give up all of their American culture so that immigrants can celebrate theirs here? It doesn't make sense.

We have gone over board with our compulsion to avoid any possibility of offending anyone, including the Halloween issue. All the Constitution says is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." I'm not aware of any state mandated religion here. Everyone is free to do whatever they want, say what they want, or not. It does not mean we must be a dulled down, bland, culture-free society.

Call it what you want... Christmas is home-made apple pie!Kristin
Dec 10, 2002 10:29 AM
My take. There was never any president ( set by Jesus or the early church leaders--nor is there anything in any of the biblical text--to indicate that we should formally celebrate the birth of Christ on a specific day of the year. I've heard a million stories of why Christmas is celebrated. I don't really care if any of them are true or not.

To me, Christmas is family. It was about going to grandma's house and stuffing ourselves with chololate medallions, candy ribbon, ham and potatoes. It was about opening presents under the tree and sitting by the fire until we got too warm. And about sleeping in my mothers old room under a thousand blankets; then waking up to the smell of scrapple and popovers, before building and trying new gifts. I call it Christmas because that is what it always been. You may call it what you want--I won't chide you--but let me have my Christmas.

My Christianity is an entirely different matter. It flows to the core of who I am and it defines me. It can not be marked on a calendar. It is an private relationship with my creator. I recall his favor and worship him when I am so inclined. When I try to schedule worship, it becomes--for me--disingenuous.
heck yeah -- it's an old pagan solstice festival re-clothed by the Catholicslonefrontranger
Dec 10, 2002 11:38 AM
Those sneaky Catholics, changing Christ's birthday from mid-March to coincide with pagan solstice festivals. Good archeological science within the last 2 decades to back this up, along with the Catholic Church's well-known practice of conveniently rearranging (or inventing) holy days to coincide with other widely celebrated Western pagan festivals (Beltane = Easter, Imbolc = St. Valentine's, et cetera). Read Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth". It's a good eye-opener for the spiritual side of all.

Not to say that I don't enjoy my Xmas celebration despite being a recovering Catholic. I feel it's everyone's right to celebrate however they see fit. However that does NOT extend to minority rights to mandate spoiling the majority fun due to their offensensitivity. Geez, don't people have anything better to do with their lives than worry about silly sh!te like this?

Thanks, empeacher - good topic and nice points made in your initial post.
heck yeah -- it's an old pagan solstice festival re-clothed by the CatholicsJon Billheimer
Dec 10, 2002 1:38 PM
Great points made here. The fact is, culture, regardless of its historical roots, is an accretion of customs and behaviours. Christmas, with all its excesses and ramifications, is a significant part of our culture in both Canada and the U.S. The mandarins of political correctness are simply out of line trying to dilute language, customs, etc. to the point of nonexistence in order not to offend some marginal, off-the-wall individual or group. We can become so bland and timid as to have no group or national identity at all.

BTW, my best friend many moons ago in University was from a reformed Jewish family. In the interests of maximizing "big fun" for everyone they did the full meal deal, Hannukah and Christmas, complete with the tree. That way, Steve said, they got more than all the other kids combined! One of my managers is a Sikh from India. He celebrates Christmas with his family just like the rest of us. In India, Kuldeep says Christmas is pretty widely celebrated by Christians and non-Christians, as are some other holidays of other religious derivations. So what's wrong with that? I think that people need to take a deep breath, and get off their little sectarian high horses. My 2 cents!!
Thanks LFR...empacher6seat
Dec 10, 2002 6:02 PM
I was hesitant to post this because of the way the s@#% hit the fan on my last little rant I posted a few months back. I'm totally out of my league on this page in terms of knowledge about current events, I'm glad someone found one of my posts interesting for once! =)
people are way too politically correct these daysColnagoFE
Dec 11, 2002 8:53 AM
Christmas has always been the big holiday in the US--religious or not. I mean Santa Claus is much bigger than Jesus nowdays for most kids. Chanuka traditionally was a minor Jewish holiday and has been elevated to a big deal because it falls at roughly the same time as Christmas and we wouldn't want our kids to be left out of the fun! I don't know much about Kwanzaa. Has it always been widely celebrated in African American homes or is its newfound visibility due to not wanting to leave anyone's culture/religion out of the mix. How about the Druids? I think they got ripped off. Christians stole the tree in the house idea from them and they get nothing in return! Happy Winter Solstice everybody!
consumerism is offensiveDuane Gran
Dec 12, 2002 11:53 AM
I'm more offended by rampant consumerism than terminology. One can trace the various customs and celebrations around the winter solstice for thousands of years and see that it has changed. It will continue to change, but the current (mostly last 50 years) commercial focus is disturbing.

Gift giving isn't a bad thing, but I think the religious tone of the holiday is barely audible under a roar of commercialization. Anyone who feels offended by calling this time of the year "Christmas" should recognize how secularized it has become. I don't think there is much for non-Christians to be upset about anymore.