A First Snow Sunday

I had no idea a certain population was that upset by a trend of commercialism that allegedly takes “Christmas” out of Christmas (ex., in ads, selling “holiday trees” instead of “Christmas trees”). Personally, I think if that if stores want to censor themselves (i.e., they seem to be aiming for inclusiveness by saying “celebrate holidays” instead of “celebrate Christmas”), heck, go ahead. It’s a concern when the government censors us, not when Walmart censors (gasp) itself (like I give a crap). (Then again, people forget that the government’s not supposed to endorse any particular religion while trying to be as inclusive as possible). The op-ed by Adam Cohen notes:

Religious conservatives have a cause this holiday season: the commercialization of Christmas. They’re for it.

The American Family Association is leading a boycott of Target for not using the words “Merry Christmas” in its advertising. (Target denies it has an anti-Merry-Christmas policy.) The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart in part over the way its Web site treated searches for “Christmas.” Bill O’Reilly, the Fox anchor who last year started a “Christmas Under Siege” campaign, has a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase “Happy Holidays,” along with a poll that asks, “Will you shop at stores that do not say ‘Merry Christmas’?”

This campaign – which is being hyped on Fox and conservative talk radio – is an odd one. Christmas remains ubiquitous, and with its celebrators in control of the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and every state supreme court and legislature, it hardly lacks for powerful supporters. There is also something perverse, when Christians are being jailed for discussing the Bible in Saudi Arabia and slaughtered in Sudan, about spending so much energy on stores that sell “holiday trees.”

What is less obvious, though, is that Christmas’s self-proclaimed defenders are rewriting the holiday’s history. They claim that the “traditional” American Christmas is under attack by what John Gibson, another Fox anchor, calls “professional atheists” and “Christian haters.” But America has a complicated history with Christmas, going back to the Puritans, who despised it. What the boycotters are doing is not defending America’s Christmas traditions, but creating a new version of the holiday that fits a political agenda.

The Puritans considered Christmas un-Christian, and hoped to keep it out of America. They could not find Dec. 25 in the Bible, their sole source of religious guidance, and insisted that the date derived from Saturnalia, the Roman heathens’ wintertime celebration. [….]

Christmas gained popularity when it was transformed into a domestic celebration, after the publication of Clement Clarke Moore’s “Visit from St. Nicholas” and Thomas Nast’s Harper’s Weekly drawings, which created the image of a white-bearded Santa who gave gifts to children. The new emphasis lessened religious leaders’ worries that the holiday would be given over to drinking and swearing, but it introduced another concern: commercialism. By the 1920’s, the retail industry had adopted Christmas as its own, sponsoring annual ceremonies to kick off the “Christmas shopping season.”

Religious leaders objected strongly. The Christmas that emerged had an inherent tension: merchants tried to make it about buying, while clergymen tried to keep commerce out. [….]

This ethic found popular expression in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” In the 1965 TV special, Charlie Brown ignores Lucy’s advice to “get the biggest aluminum tree you can find” and her assertion that Christmas is “a big commercial racket,” and finds a more spiritual way to observe the day.

This year’s Christmas “defenders” are not just tolerating commercialization – they’re insisting on it. They are also rewriting Christmas history on another key point: non-Christians’ objection to having the holiday forced on them.

The campaign’s leaders insist this is a new phenomenon – a “liberal plot,” in Mr. Gibson’s words.[….]

Other non-Christians have long expressed similar concerns. For decades, companies have replaced “Christmas parties” with “holiday parties,” schools have adopted “winter breaks” instead of “Christmas breaks,” and TV stations and stores have used phrases like “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” out of respect for the nation’s religious diversity.

The Christmas that [Fox’s Bill] O’Reilly and his allies are promoting – one closely aligned with retailers, with a smack-down attitude toward nonobservers – fits with their campaign to make America more like a theocracy, with Christian displays on public property and Christian prayer in public schools.

It does not, however, appear to be catching on with the public. That may be because most Americans do not recognize this commercialized, mean-spirited Christmas as their own. [….]

And, Cohen notes how even Fox News still made the “error” of saying “Holiday Collection” instead of “Christmas Collection.” Honestly, let’s just celebrate and let each individual decide for themselves what’s the meaning of the holiday they’re celebrating (after all, Hannukuh is falling in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas this year). And, instead of wasting time on rather pointless boycotts, why not work on helping those in need and spreading goodwill and charity?

An early review of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” sounds pretty positive.

Caffiene isn’t bad for you. At least, the natural kind found in coffee, tea and so forth. I think scientists are still trying to figure out the stuff in sodas.

Are we paying too much for bar review (and is a certain bar review company engaged in an monopoly?). Hmm. Fascinating article, I have to say!

And, last but not least, a story on the Rockefeller Christmas Tree’s star:

[….] Last year the old fiberglass star, decorated with gold leaf, was replaced by a 550-pound crystal star from the Austrian company Swarovski, a firm that, fittingly enough, hails from the country that bestowed upon the Christmas world the melody to “Stille Nacht” or “Silent Night.”

But for an object that sits so high astride such a plump Norwegian spruce, sometimes size and sparkle, dazzle and weight just aren’t enough to grab the viewers’ attention. So this year the nine-and-a-half foot star has been fitted with a secret weapon, a glowing light-emitting diode implant that will signal that the star is alive.

Perhaps the star was in need of an electric boost after so many years looking down as the tree’s 40-foot girth accumulated an increasing array of ornaments; most recently strobe lights have become a feature among the thousands of five-watt bulbs. After all, isn’t the star – the symbol of the light that guided wise men to Bethlehem – somehow more important than the fat tree it sits atop?

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is more than just a symbol of Christmas for New Yorkers alone. Through television and film it has become one of the defining images of Christmas around the world, towering over gawkers toting red and white shopping bags and Yuletide skaters performing loops on the ice below.

Undoubtedly, the star is more than just a souped-up Christmas decoration to the team at Swarovski; it’s a work of art that it takes very seriously indeed. And in future years the team hopes to adjust the star’s L.E.D. settings to enhance the effect in varied light and weather conditions. [….]

0 thoughts on “A First Snow Sunday”

  1. Christmas/Holiday: Yes, keep Christ in Christmas – that’s the point, right> – but also control the commercialization in Christmas. You have to think, in order not to offend anybody, they will just have their signs read “Sale” rather than “holiday sale” or “Christmas sale”.

    Bar Reviews: I actually didn’t take Bar/BRI, but the now defunct West Bar Review. I didn’t see any practical performance difference between those that took Bar/BRI and West in those days, and my course was cheaper, and you could make up classes online (they had just invented streaming video). It also was a gimmic-free course: no writing your hand off, and no wierd phrases to remember things. Today, two thousand dollars for a prerecorded course is just too much.

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