From the 3rd-season Buffy episode Amends
|Xander: || So, you doing anything special? |
|Buffy: || Tree. Nog. Roast beast. Just me and Mom and hopefully an excess of gifts. What are you doing for Christmas? |
|Willow: || Being Jewish. Remember, people? Not everybody worships Santa. |
|Buffy: || (smiles) I just meant for vacation. |
|Willow: || Mm. Nothing fun. |
What I like about this the honesty. Christmas is a vacation. Tree. Nog. Roast beast. Gifts. If anyone or anything is worshipped, it's Santa.
Which can make it hard for those who have actual, you know, religions
that do not include tree, nog, roast beast, and gifts. It emphasizes the difference from the majority.
Growing up, the family that did not hand out candy on Halloween were "weirdos". They were also Jehovah's Witnesses. (Of course, now that the fundies are deciding Halloween is bad, maybe the JW's will have company.)
With Christmas, some who observe the holiday consider themselves Christians. Some might actually try to convert you or I, given the chance; others have proselyphobia
. But there are also a lot of people for whom it's family tradition, or fun, or a folk tale (though they probably wouldn't call it that). I have uncles who can go from singing carols to bitching about how Jesus is a fairy tale and the preachers should get the hell of out Christmas in 2 seconds flat. Do they call themselves Christian? No. But they celebrate Christmas.
Of course, Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas. Neither did the Puritans. Actually, most protestants tossed it out during the Reformation
... so of course the Roman Catholics increased their celebrations.
Back in 1970, a novel
recounted two flight attendants attempting to flee Christmas by hopping a flight to the officially Atheist Soviet Union. They were greeted with tinsel, garland, and trees. "Merry Christmas!" Now Christmas - and other Hallmark holidays - are catching on in China
, too. The Manila Standard runs articles comparing the Laughing Buddha and Santa
. ("Who looks fat, has a big tummy, wears a red cloak, carries a big sack, is surrounded by children, is loved by one and all and is always laughing heartily? "Santa Claus!" say those from the West. "Laughing Buddha" say the Chinese.")
And for those who aren't celebrating, especially those who are tired of correcting the majority presumption of "well you may not be RELIGIOUS but everyone celebrates Christmas", there probably isn't any difference.
Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I spent too many years as a "show me where the Bible has Christmas trees, it doesn't, so why do we say the Puritans were wrong?" fundie. Or maybe I've had too many lectures about how Christmas resulted from early Christianity's using the "embrace
strategy to various pagan celebrations
. To me, there's nothing religious or Christian about tree, nog, or roast beast. Yet to those who view those things as trappings of Christianity, they are ... and who is to say whose view is correct?
(Now, the Eucharist, Baptism, and prayer, those are religious, yes. And I'm glad they aren't being celebrated hourly in Bellevue Square.)