CHARLOTTE, NC: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-lah, la-la-lah, ‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-lah, la-la-lah.” We all know the words, but Christmas is hardly a time filled with joy and happiness. Not when the new Puritan Grinches lurk in the shadows taking political correctness to new holiday lows. Destroying the joy because, like the Grinch, their hearts are just three sizes too small.
Rodney King famously asked once, “Can’t we all just get along?” Apparently not.
Christmas is an ideal time to raise the ugly spectre of holiday controversy.
Even religions that normally get along somehow seem to clash during the winter holiday season. Be it a dispute over using the word “Christmas” or “holiday”, whether it’s all right to speak of Santa Claus or even if it’s acceptable to sing carols or display a creche.
Perhaps it is the Pilgrims fault. After all the folks who came to our shores in 1620 fled because of religious persecution. However, they did not celebrate Christmas and Easter. Difficult as it may be to believe, it’s true. Pilgrims were Puritans in the strictest sense of the word with strong beliefs against religious holidays.
Since the scriptures made no mention of any holidays other than the Sabbath, the idea of honoring “holy days” carried the connotation that some days were, therefore, not holy.
Puritans followed their traditional adage which claimed,
“They for whom all days are holy can have no holiday.”
So contemptuous were the Puritans of Christmas, the would call it “Foolstide,” banning followers from any celebrations throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.
During the first Christmas at Plymouth, the Puritans worked their fields
just as they did every other day of the year.
The following year, Gov. William Bradford punished a group of non-Puritan workers for playing a baseball-like game called “stoole-ball” on Christmas,
Opined Bradford, “My conscience cannot let you play while everybody else is out working.”
Banning Christmas: Puritans standing against medieval England’s festivities
One of the biggest Puritanical objections was that Christmas was a wildly festive occasion in medieval England, which went against their strict beliefs. Wealthy landowners doled out food and drink to the poor during the season and the poorest man in the parish earned the title “Lord of Misrule.”
Feasts frequently erupted into wild drunken parties which went completely against the ideals of the pious religious purists.
Anti-Christmas sentiment became so widespread in England that Parliament banned the holiday for 15 years in 1645, reinstating it in 1660.
New England settlers followed suit by outlawing Christmas in 1659, a ban which remained in effect until the 1680’s.
Work or be fined
Citizens caught not working were forced to pay heavy fines. Thus the “Scrooge-like” Puritans were the forerunners to Charles Dickens now famous story A Christmas Carol (1843). Note, however, that even Dickens did use “Christmas” in his title.
The Puritan controversies are not the only ones associated with the Christmas season, however. In 2007, American hardware chain Lowe’s published its catalog referring to Christmas trees as “holiday trees.” In fact, both the United States and Canada have received mixed reactions since the 1980s for changing the name Christmas trees to “holiday trees.”
Banning the word Christmas
The same is true of the expression “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”
In one notable instance in 2005, Boston officially called their tree a “holiday tree” bringing the wrath of the tree farmer from Nova Scotia who had donated it to the city. The farmer angrily told Boston he would rather have put the tree into a wood chipper than have it called a “holiday tree.”
In 2012 in the Belgian capital of Brussels, the local Christmas Market became “Winter Pleasures” in order to appease the Muslim minority in the city.
Many retailers and businesses have also been caught up in the political correctness feeding frenzy. They choose to substitute the word “Christmas” in their advertising with”holiday.” Since 2005, Sears, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Chase Bank and Wachovia Bank among others have all felt the ire of holiday confrontations.
Home Depot suffered a backlash in 2008 for using “holiday” and “Hanukkah” on their website while avoiding the use of “Christmas.”
The city of Philadelphia removed the word “Christmas” from two of its signs at the Philadelphia Christmas Village in 2010. After organizers complaints, “Christmas” was back.
Of course, the controversy has further been fueled by the fact that Donald Trump made the statement in 2015, “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
In addition to secular objections, some churches and organizations also reject the observance of the holidays. Such communities include Jehovah’s Witnesses, True Jesus Church, Church of God (7th-Day) and Christian Congregation in the United States to name a few.
A Santa Claus by any other name
Obviously, the most predominant criticism comes from Muslim countries.
In Turkey, for example, a secular version of Christmas has been adopted with a Santa Claus figure known as Noel Baba who is derived from the French Père Noël.
Russia also has a Santa substitute who arrives after Christmas as Father Frost and is usually accompanied by the Snow Maiden.
All of which means that political correctness continues to run amok within the hearts of dissenters who find ultimate joy as they “Deck the halls with poison ivy.”
Personally, I refuse to participate in the debate. It is just a bunch of bah humbug.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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