I recently read an old (2003) article written by Congressman Ron Paul (posted on Reddit), in which he discusses his concern over the danger of “The Christmas Spirit” being lost, “..because of perverse court decisions, years of cultural indoctrination, which is the fault of the elitist, secular “Left”, who have managed to drive religion from public view.” Many things he said were quite.. err…entertaining in their notions, but one bit caught my full attention:
“Most noticeably, however, the once commonplace refrain of “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by the vague, ubiquitous “Happy Holidays.” But what holiday? Is Christmas some kind of secret, a word that cannot be uttered in public? Why have we allowed the secularists to intimidate us into downplaying our most cherished and meaningful Christian celebration?”
I ask you: How many people do you know? Now, how many of them are Christians? Jewish? Muslim? Buddhist? Shinto? Atheists? I’ll bet many of you can say a lot more than you really realize. I’m pretty sure that a Buddhist wouldn’t respond to “Merry Christmas” as he/she is celebrating Mindfullness Day, or those who are Zuni & Hopi who are celebrating the Shalako Festival. The Sufi might get upset if you said Merry Christmas to them, as they mourn the death of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. And I’m quite positive that people of the Jewish faith would respond to a Merry Christmas with a Happy Hanukkah.
As a practicing Atheist, I hardly wish anyone a Merry anything, but I have always given and responded with “Happy Holidays” — How the heck do I know what religion a person is?? It isn’t as if they wear a band on their arms (Been there, done that and we all know the hell that happened). It is presumptuous and rude to assume that every person you see in the month of December is Christian.
I do celebrate Christmas – We have a tree and everything. I make good food, we listen to carols, we wrap gifts, and exchange them on Christmas morning, while the yule log plays on Channel 2. I wish my son a Merry Christmas and I love the songs “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel” and “Little Drummer Boy”. I also love “Carol of The Bells”, “Jingle Bells”, and the way Schubert’s “Ave Maria” fills the very air with musical light. But what I don’t do is celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas.
Christmas, for me, is more akin to Thanksgiving day. It’s a day to celebrate my family and friends, to say thank you to them for sharing their lives with me. To “rejoice” in the fact that our lives are good, and happy, and that we are together. I’m going to keep saying “Happy Holidays” because it pleases me. Oh, and uh.. here is a little WII game, and some socks, wrapped in pretty paper under a dying pine tree, lit with pretty lights and decorated with fat little Santas and Gingerbread ornaments. Just enough make the house smell lovely, to piss off the cat, and leave pine needles to find come June.
But back to Mr. Paul’s question, “But what holiday?”. Here is a list (incomplete, I’m positive), of the holidays celebrated in the Month of December, for the year 2008. Do you think, Mr. Paul, that everyone on this list wants to be greeted by a “Merry Christmas”?
Holidays – December 2008
- * 11/27 to 12/10: Hopi & Zuni Shalako Festival.
- * 11/28 eve to 12/28 eve: Dhu al-Hijjah.
- * 11/30 to 12/24 (OC 11/28 to 1/6): Advent/Festival of Lights.
- * 12/1: World AIDS Day–Day to pray for healing of all those suffering with AIDS and HIV.
- * 12/4: Yoruba/Santeria feast of Orisha Shango, Defender Against Evil.
- * 12/5: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red Tara, protector against evil and harm.
- * 12/6: Mindfulness Day–Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.
- * 12/7 eve to 12/8 eve: Eid al-Adha–Muslim day of sacrifice to the one universal Deity for the good of all.
- * 12/7 eve to 12/15 eve (12/14 peak): Geminid Meteor Showers, to remind us all that God is our Almighty
- * 12/8: Rohatsu–Zen Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment.
- * 12/8: Christian feast celebrating St. Anna’s conception of Blessed Mary.
- * 12/8: Death day of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1111), Sufi saint who taught about unity of the soul with the one universal Deity of 99 names and attributes.
- * 12/11 eve to 12/13 eve: Feast of the Immanent Feminine Divine Spirit–honoring Goddess as Maha Devi Shakti (Hindu), Allat Ruh Sakinah (Old Arabic-Sufi), Eloah Ruach Shekhinah (Jewish Kabbalah) & Holy Spirit Wisdom (Christian). * 12/12 (11:37 a.m. EST): Full Moon (Snow/Fire Moon).
- * 12/12: Baha’i feast honoring the one Deity as Masa’il–Mystery.
- * 12/12: First Appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of God and Mother of the Oppressed, at the former shrine of Aztec Moon Goddess Coatlicue (Mexico 1531).
- * 12/13: Feast of the Light-bringer– honoring Goddess as Juno Lucina (Old Roman) & Lucia (Old Swedish); merged with the Christian feast of St. Lucia.
- * 12/14: Christian feast of St. John of the Cross (d. 1591), whose suffering–for advocating church reform–generated mystical union with Deity.
- * 12/15 (A 1/25): Old Egyptian festival of Neteret Amenet-Rait-Mut, the primordial Great Mother.
- * 12/15: Death day of Fr. Pavel Florensky (1943), Orthodox Christian mystic who taught that Holy Wisdom is Our Mother, the Holy Spirit, third part of the Holy Trinity.
- * 12/15: Day the Catholic Church silenced Fr. Matthew Fox for teaching Creation Spirituality (1988); day to mourn the silencing of all religious dissenters and reformers.
- * 12/16 to 12/24: Christmas Novena/Las Posadas–Christian remembrance of the journey of Blessed Mary and St. Joseph to Bethlehem and their taking refuge in a cave-stable.
- * 12/17: Yoruba/Santeria feast of Orisha Babalu Aye, Healer of Deadly Diseases.
- * 12/17: Day to give thanks to our God for the air we breathe.
- * 12/17 to 12/23: Saturnalia/Opalia–Old Roman festival honoring God Saturn (the weak Sun) & Goddess Ops (the fallow Earth); celebrated with gift-giving, revelry, and abolishment of all class distinctions.
- * 12/17 eve to 12/24 eve (12/22 peak): Ursid Meteor Showers, to remind us all that God is our Almighty.
- * 12/21 (7:04 a.m. EST): Winter Solstice/Solar New Year–Marks the beginning of Winter and the shortest day and longest night of the year; celebration of the darkness with dancing near the hearth fire.
- * 12/21 to 12/22: Festival of Evergreen Trees; merged into International Arbor Day. Celebrated by planting trees and hanging wreaths (symbols of eternal life).
- * 12/21 to 12/25: Old Romano-Egyptian festival of Goddess Isis giving birth to God Horus.
- * 12/21 eve to 12/29 eve: Hanukkah/Festival of Lights–Jewish festival commemorating a victory in their struggle for religious freedom and rededication of the second Temple of Jerusalem to Elohim. Menorah candles are lit.
- * 12/21 to 1/9: Hopi & Zuni Soyala New Year Festival of purification and renewal. Homes are cleaned, fires doused, and personal restraint is observed.
- * 12/22: Taoist festival honoring Wang-Mu/Empress Mother, Mother of Compassion and Wisdom, and manifestation of the Tao (Cosmic Power of Creation and Destruction). Also celebrates the peak of the feminine Yin half of the year and the Shen of Earth, North, and Winter; prayers are made for rest and renewal, and offerings are made to the Cosmos.
- * 12/22: Tohji-Taisai–Shinto rite honoring Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Storm God Susano-o angered Her, and She withdrew into a cave until enticed out with music and dance.
- * 12/22: Beginning of Capricorn (the Goat).
- * 12/22: Birthday of Lily Montagu (1873), who co-founded Liberal Judaism in 1902. She was the first Jewish woman to serve as lay minister, both officiating and preaching.
- * 12/24 eve: Mother Night– Christian vigil for the laboring Blessed Mary.
- * 12/25 (OC 1/7): Christmas– Christian celebration of Blessed Mother Mary giving birth to Child Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- * 12/25 to 1/5: Yule–Old Anglo-Teutonic festival honoring Freyr and Freyja (Deities of Fertility) and the new-born Balder (God of Light), son of Frigga and Odin. Celebrated with evergreens, fires, and feasting.
- * 12/26: Day commemorating the death of Zoroastrian Prophet Zarathustra (551 BCE). Zoroastrians worship by making offerings to a sacred fire.
- * 12/26 to 1/1: Kwanzaa–Festival celebrating positive African traditions; emphasizes unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
- * 12/27 (7:23 a.m. EST): New Moon.
- * 12/28: Day the Endangered Species Act. The day to mourn those creatures already extinct.
- * 12/28 eve to 1/7 eve: Muharram/Muslim New Year (Year 1430) & A’ashurah.
- * 12/31: Oharai/Grand Purification Festival–Shinto rite exorcising evil from the world.
- * 12/31: Yoruba/Santeria festival of Orisha Yemaya, Mother of the Sun and Moon.
- * 12/31: Baha’i feast honoring the one Deity as Sharaf–Honor.
- * 12/31: Feast of Father Time, who ultimately overcomes us all.
- * 12/31 eve: New Year’s Eve–Vigil for the new year; night for self evaluation and resolving to better oneself.