Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Stephen L. Carter ― How Christmas Won the War on Christmas

via Bloomberg News

The historian Stephen Nissenbaum, in his book “The Battle for Christmas,” points out that among religious elites, the idea of celebrating the birth of Christ was seen as pagan, a phenomenon of the immigrant, somehow anti-American. Not until 1870, under President Ulysses Grant, did it become a national holiday, a decision made very much at the instance of the commercial interests who saw the chance to make sales.

Nowadays, of course, the commercial interests are everywhere. In China, for example, nobody could accuse the government of furthering a religious agenda, and the holiday has no official observance, but the malls are nevertheless bedecked with trees, and the shoppers are out in droves. The growth of secular Christmas turns out to be useful in other ways. In Hong Kong, pro-democracy protesters sing “subversive” versions of popular Christmas carols. (“Evil police angrily wave their batons, hoping to kill a few pedestrians!” to the tune of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” -- presumably it sounds better in Cantonese.)

Read complete article here