Christmas Morning Catechism ( or The First Battle in the 'War on Christmas')

Just because it's Christmas that doesn't mean I can't start a  little trouble right?

You know this whole "War on Christmas" deal that comes up conveniently around this time of the year when people are busy and certain news outlets need ratings?  You ever wonder who started it?  Well, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, it was the Christians:

"The practice of giving gifts, which goes back to the 15th century, contributed to the view that Christmas was a secular holiday focused on family and friends. This was one reason why Puritans in Old and New England opposed the celebration of Christmas and in both England and America succeeded in banning its observance."

That was just too amusing not to share, and besides I'm guessing we've made our peace with it.  But lest you should think I'm lacking in true holiday spirit (or maybe you just feel all rotten & guilty because you really would've preferred not knowing that about the Puritans) PBS Frontline has put its entire documentary, "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" on their website.  4 hours of Christ biographyin', martyr beatifyin' educational material ought to set you straight in no time.  Or, in a lot of time actually.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good day.

UPDATE: My friend and part-time blogpost idea stealing nemesis over at Chicago Catholic Examiner confirms Britannica's story.  Which is good since I was concerned they might be a bit biased.  They're not really fans of pilgrims and puritans over there, you know.

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  • The Puritan war on Christmas was the diametrical opposite of what many today call the war on Christmas . The Puritans wanted ---albeit to the extreme--- to preserve the integrity(purity) of the day on which Christ was born (Christmas). Today it's those who cry out against a 'war on Christmas' who are the defenders of the holiness(purity) of the day against those who have transmogrified it into a secular, commercial (read here, Santa Claus) holiday.

    In other words, the expression "War on Christmas" is being used equivocally in your blog.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you for pointing that out Aquinas. I stand corrected. I guess we haven't made our peace with it after all.

    I was just messing around this morning, of course there's no real equivalence between the two controversies. However, since I neglected to link to the Britannica article before I'll put it here because I like it. It's a carefully woven narrative of the many festivals and observances that through time and cultural exchange have become one giant uber-holiday of various worth and meaning to its participants. And also, the Frontline series is worth the time investment.

  • Besides, if you think I'm using the phrase 'War on Christmas' (Patent Pending, Fox News 2006) equivocally - which I am - you ought to really howl at my use of the word 'catechism'.

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