NOW that the End of the World is done and dusted (till the next apocalyptic panic strikes) we can get on with more important things, such as pointing and laughing at those fools who want us all to believe that “bah-humbug” atheists are intensifying their “The War of Christmas”.
Latest among these are the Knights of Columbus, who are outraged that a utility company in New Braunfels, Texas removed two giant ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ banners that had been fixed to the company’s fence by the Catholic organisation a few weeks back,
But New Braunfels Utilities then had second thoughts. A spokesperson for the company said it was a “mistake” and the signs have since been removed.
Said Gretchen Reuwer, the utility’s communications manager:
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the message, NBU is a municipal utility and cannot lawfully display a religious message.
She said their policy does not allow any signs or banners promoting a specific religious message.
While one message may be strong supported by many in the community, the next message may prove to be just as strongly offensive.
Reuwer told Fox News they do allow non-profit groups to hang banners – but it’s only for fundraising events and to promote religion.
We made an error in accepting the banner. It was a simple human error – and to compound it – it was also a banner with a message that was specifically religious.
Joe Hernandez, of the Knights of Columbus, was outraged:
The bottom line is Christ is the reason for the Christmas season. He’s the reason for the special holiday – his birthday.
Hernandez, and other members of the Knights of Columbus, said they want to know who complained – and why they took issue with the banner.
All we were doing was voicing our opinion – that Christ should be kept in Christmas.
Hernandez added that it’s not surprising that the war on Christmas has come to their Texas town.
It’s not a war on Christmas. I think it’s a war on Christ – period.
Earlier this month, the New York Times pointed out that the War on Christmas is an American tradition that stretches back further than most people imagine – and it was started by “Puritans who considered the destruction of Christmas necessary to the construction of their godly society” and not, as many on the religious right insist, by atheist grinches.
In the early 17th century in England, the Christmas season was not so different from what it is today: churches and other buildings were decorated with holly and ivy, gifts were exchanged and charity was distributed among the poor.
Also much as it is today, it was a period of carousing and merriment. The weeks around Christmas were celebrated with feasting, drinking, singing and games. Mummers would blacken their faces and dress up in costumes, often in the clothes of the opposite sex, to perform plays in the streets or in homes. Carolers, too, would sing door to door as well as in the home. Wealthy lords threw open their manors, inviting local peasants and villagers inside to gorge on food and drink. Groups of young men called wassailers would march in and demand to be feasted or given gifts of money in exchange for their good wishes and songs.
Puritans detested these sorts of activities, grumbling that Christmas was observed with more revelry than piety. Worse, they contended that there was no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Puritans argued (not incorrectly) that Christmas represented nothing more than a thin Christian veneer slapped on a pagan celebration. Believing in the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst.
When the Puritans rebelled against King Charles I, inciting the English Revolution, the popular celebration of Christmas was on their hit list. Victorious against the king, in 1647, the Puritan government actually canceled Christmas. Not only were traditional expressions of merriment strictly forbidden, but shops were also ordered to stay open, churches were shut down and ministers arrested for preaching on Christmas Day.
The Puritans who came to America naturally shared these sentiments. As the Massachusetts minister Increase Mather explained in 1687, Christmas was observed on Decemebr 25 not because ‘Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian’ ones. So naturally, official suppression of Christmas was foundational to the godly colonies in New England.
And it concluded:
So the next time someone maintains that they are defending traditional American values by denouncing the War on Christmas, remind them of our 17th-century Puritan forefathers who refused to condone any celebration or even observance of the holiday. In America, our oldest Christmas tradition is, in fact, the War on Christmas.
There was also an entertaining “War on Christmas” piece in the Guardian earlier this month.
Hat Tip: BarrieJohn (Guardian piece)