Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Assaulting Christmas

Just in time for the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Cindi Ross Scoppe describes ways in which our consumer culture has so transformed the celebration of Christmas that the very idea of Christmas as a season that lasts for twelve days seems absurd to many people, even to many Christians. Here's some of what she writes in an editorial entitled "The assault on Christmas":

On the third day of Christmas, I awoke to the sound of a “Morning Edition” host ridiculing the grocery stores that were still — still — playing Christmas music. ...

I went grocery shopping on the seventh day of Christmas; the folks at NPR would be relieved to know there was no Christmas music to be heard. Outside the grocery store, I ran into state Education Department spokesman Jim Foster, who complimented my Christmas attire and asked, “How much longer can you wear that?” When I said, “Until January 5,” he repeated my answer, but with a question mark at the end.

During the first seven days of Christmas, people indulge my extended celebration. But by the eight day, you're expected to move on; it's a whole new year. Out with the old. ...

James Cutsinger, director of undergraduate studies at USC's Department of Religious Studies, suggested that in addition to the fact that the nation is mainly Protestant, and non-liturgical, "This ever-increasing commercialization of the holiday means that virtually all the emphasis is placed on a lengthy build-up - beginning not merely with Thanksgiving but even Halloween - and all that's left afterward are the after-Christmas sales and New Year's Eve parties."

Scoppe also notes a delightful irony:

It’s quite fashionable to complain about retailers imposing on Thanksgiving and even Halloween with their Christmas merchandising. Even more fashionable in some circles is complaining about all the politically correct (one of the very few correct uses of that hackneyed insult) talk of “holiday trees” and “holiday cards” and the “holiday break.” I don’t disagree with either complaint. But how many of those same people join in the secularization, trampling over Advent — which historically has been and for some remains a penitential season — and ignoring all but the very first day of Christmas?

It's a great editorial, so read it all.

[Related sidebar: A member of the altar guild just asked me if we were still in Advent!]

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