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Merry Christmas
The History Behind the Spirit
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By Ron and Alicia Lee

Here it is, the yuletide season rearing its materialistic head. Shoppers running to and fro scrambling, fighting for the best parking spots outside the store with the day’s “hottest” sale. Inside, fierce competition erupts in a mad dash to grab the latest craze off the shelf before they are all gone, which sometimes results in bitter words or a physical assault. It’s unfortunate that giving has spawned such a massive corporate-driven nightmare of frantic consumerism. Worse yet, people freakin’ buy into it.

The true spirit of Christmas is now cheapened by a drive to remove its religious origins. “Politically correct” now becomes a fight against God in any form or indoctrination, and some corporate giants lead the way, wanting to keep any religious tones out of their stores as not to alienate anyone. Should we say “Merry Christmas?” Or do we say “Happy Holidays?” Who will we offend if we say the wrong one? You see, this fight is being fought in every shopping mall, in every food chain, in every small business across the United States. The posters and signs advertising good deals, as well as good wishes for the holiday, must be censored appropriately – unfortunately, it’s typically on the side of political correctness.

As a culture, we are either on one side or the other of this time that is supposed to be uniting, how ironic. It’s from this division that there are the debates over where Christmas trees came from, when Christ’s birthday actually is and who started giving gifts in the first place. Christ? St. Nick? Some even go so far as to say that Christmas should be cancelled altogether, given a new date and name so it cannot in any way be associated with Christianity. How sad that our forefathers established freedom of religion only for it to be used as a weapon for those seeking to cut out any religious moral fundamentals from their daily existence. I wonder if people even remember or are taught that we have tried that route before.

Christmas in Germany
in the 1700's

Christmas has been cancelled more than a few times throughout history. The first large cancellation of Christmas being enforced in England in 1645, when the strictly Puritan Oliver Cromwell decided that the decadence of the Christmas festival didn’t align itself well with the highly held Christian ideals. Up to that point, Christmas celebration was more like the pagan festivals held in the Roman Empire in days of old. The whole town would gather in the town square or city hall to exchange generic gifts, drink wine or beer, and even dress up in Christmas spirit costumes to parade in and entertain children. When Cromwell was finally overthrown and King Charles the Second restored to the throne, Christmas was renewed as well. Christmas was also not a popular idea in the early years of the United States. As you can imagine, the revolution gave most Americans a sour taste in their mouths when it came to any deeply held English traditions, which included Christmas. The Christmas tradition was further soured by the chaos of the Christmas riots that broke out in large cities in 1828. Terrible economic conditions coupled with high unemployment turned the normally joyful Christmas festival into a fury of unhappiness that required a police force to contain it. Those riots would change the way Americans celebrated Christmas forever. In order to avoid the crazed conflict in future years, Americans families began a new tradition. They no longer traveled to town squares or city halls to honor Christmas day, but instead chose to stay home and exchange more personal gifts solely to family members or close friends. Americans also began setting up nativity scenes in their own homes, praying and reading the bible before gift giving or before Christmas dinner, or opting to simply attend Christmas church services. It is in those following years when Christmas truly became Christmas and solidified the traditions that we still celebrate today. In many ways, until just recently, we are more Christian in our celebration of Christmas than we ever had been. So why destroy that? Why tear apart and tear down what we have worked so hard to build into something amazing, something so perfectly “Christ-like” in giving and not expecting in return?

We could ask you to go out and take Christmas back by storm, by suggesting you say “Merry Christmas” instead of Happy Holidays or by not going out Black Friday shopping next year, but then you wouldn’t be taking away from this piece what we had intended.

We have taken a merry making festival and have turned it into something beautiful, something precious, where we hold our family close; where we hold to the truths that we have sought to have in our homes; where we honor the birth of Christ. We fought to make Christmas what it is.

With this little history we hope you will understand the true spirit of Christmas as love. Love of family, friends and God.

Our wish is that each of you be touched by another’s warmth of spirit and that you take a moment before you give your gifts to truly impress upon the recipient how much they really mean to you. Who knows, you might never get the chance again.

From us and ours, to you and yours,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dedicated to Jo Dickison

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