When Religion and Tradition Collide…

I truly believe that most Christians do not have a clue about the origin of their religion. More over, I believe that most of them do not even remotely understand that Christmas has nothing at all to do with the birth of Christ. And Santa? Good old Santa has nothing at all to do with the Christian version of Christmas whatsoever. So, when a conversation like the following takes place, I often try to gently inform and educate while trying to understand that, no matter what I say, someone who has been made to understand one thing since they were a child is not likely to change their opinion regardless of how much sense someone else makes.

I had the following conversation on Facebook the other day and was curious what Blogger would think of it. Apparently, “Person A” was upset because of a recent ruling in Florida stating that all Christmas signs/decorations would not be adorning the toll booths along the highway, as has always been done in the past, because when Halloween decorations were put up this past October, many people complained that they were “offended” by them. They were offended because the decorations pushed the Pagan holiday of Halloween and it was an affront to those who are devout Christians.

NOTE: Names are redacted to protect the idiocy identity of the player involved. Also, random comments that contributed nothing to the main idea of the conversation were deleted in the interest of saving space.

Person A: I’m tired of hearing that people are offended about the word CHRISTMAS & when someone says MERRY CHRISTMAS to them! Well guess what, “TOUGH SHIT”, I don’t hear you complaining when you go on CHRISTMAS break or have OFF from work for this wonderful day. If you are offended–TO FRIGGEN BAD– I have to be sensitive to all your holidays, then be RESPECTFUL of MINE! MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Friend of Person A: That’s awesome! You took the words right out of my mouth!

Person A: Thanks (Friend), I can’t take all the credit, my awesome cousin said it first but it is exactly what I was thinking!! Forget political correctness, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

CP: I get that…but then, you have to give equal time to ALL religions. There was no Happy Channukah signs up this past season either. That’s disrespectful to me…if you are going to just do Xmas but not MY holiday. I exist. I pay taxes just like you do…why does my holiday not matter? LOL I’m just kidding. I actually don’t care. People say merry xmas to me all the time and then I usually shoot back with Happy Hannukah to them. It makes people laugh. I put up a tree every year and call it a Hannukah bush. Truthfully, the safest thing to do so as not to offend is to place a sign that says “happy holidays” and leave it at that so whiny bitches don’t get all up in arms over it. However, it seems to me that most find “Happy Holidays” equally as offensive, like there is some secret crusade or conspiracy to eradicate Christmas which is ridiculous and untrue.

The Halloween thing, though…that was another story. And, to clarify, it was Christians and Catholics who did all the complaining! They were angry that a Pagan ritual based “holiday” was being shoved in their faces. So basically, all the people who celebrate xmas sort of shot themselves in the foot now with all the halloween complaining. LOL They did it to themselves.

Person A: I’m personally tired of tip toeing around, all this pc stuff is ridiculous! If I offend you with Merry Christmas then don’t say anything or say Happy whatever back! My holiday, what I grew up with was CHRISTMAS, I’m catholic and believe in the MAGIC of CHRISTMAS!! I have no problem going to the mall and seeing a dreidel or a Menorah and now even the kenorah, it does not offend me so why should a “CHRISTMAS TREE”, Santa or other Christmas symbols offend others, it’s just plain old crap!

CP: But that was my point. I’m a Jew, as you know. I don’t find “Merry Christmas” to be offensive. Not at all. My family has Catholics and Christians in it as well. However, it is important to realize that the people who complained about the Halloween decorations were the people who made it so that Xmas decorations are now offensive to others. Unfortunately, the people who complained about Halloween were devout Catholics and Christians who were angry about a Pagan holiday being shoved in their face. So, you see…if they hadn’t gotten offended over someone ELSE’S holiday, they would have their decorations up now for their own! It wasn’t Jews or Muslims who did this, Hon. It was YOUR OWN PEOPLE! I’m not trying to be offensive here or even attempting to point fingers, but what happened at the toll booths was done by hypocrites (which I am NOT NOT NOT accusing Catholics/Christians of being). What I am saying is that people who did not think about the big picture ended up cutting off their own nose to spite their face. They rallied against someone else’s holiday (Halloween) with such fervor that now their own politics are getting tossed back at them. That’s what happened here in Florida. As for why others find Christmas symbols offensive? I have no idea. But then again, I’m still trying to figure out how Santa has anything at all to do with the birth of Christ. Santa was born out of, coincidentally and oddly enough, Paganism…which makes all this entirely too ironic. LOL

Person A: So you are saying that the people who complained about the Halloween decorations are the reason that we can’t have Christmas (not Xmas please) decorations now? That makes no sense.

CP: Sure it does. The newspaper clearly stated that it was the Catholic Coalition for Keeping Christ in Christmas were the ones that sent the threatening letters to the Florida Highway Patrol regarding the Halloween decor on the toll booths being offensive. So, in order to please everyone, they made the only decision they really could make, which was to opt out of decorations altogether. It seemed like the appropriate decision to me. Kind of like kindergarten mentality. If you all can’t play nicely together, no one gets to play at all. It’s unfortunate but because of the radical behavior of some, no one gets holiday decorations now. Frankly, I don’t understand why there would be a specific holiday put on the toll booths ever. Happy Holidays is more than sufficient and easily runs the gamut of holidays between October and the New Year.

Person A: Ya but this is the Christmas season. Everyone celebrates the Christmas season even if they aren’t religious. Its a tradition thing not a religious thing.

CP: I disagree. There are about 4 other holidays that take place during the month of December that I can think of. There is Hannukah, the Muslim New Year, Kwanzaa, Christmas and probably a few more that I am not even aware of. Merry Christmas does not acknowledge those other religions at all. Second, Christmas decor would consist of Santa, reindeer, elves, etc. which are all steeped in Pagan tradition and originate via Pagan mythology. It was the fact that Florida state chose to use the Pagan originated holiday of Halloween to complain about in the first place. But now that we are discussing Christmas, they want Pagan symbolism to hang freely? That makes very little sense to me. Further, why only Christmas trees, Santas and the specific phrase of “Merry Christmas”? Why not menorah’s and kinara’s as well? Why wasn’t there a big banner across the booths that said “Happy Hannukah” during that week? It’s completely unfair to only acknowledge one religion during a holiday season that consists of more than just that one holiday. This is why a simple “Happy Holidays” banner would have been sufficient. My personal opinion is that NO holiday acknowledgment is warranted due to the fact that there should be separation between church and state. Those toll booths are paid for by MY tax dollars as well as yours. If we are going to reflect one religion, then all should be given equal time…but since the toll booths are run by state and federal government agencies, religious holiday acknowledgment in any form is inappropriate to begin with. So, my initial assessment stands. If the Catholic and Christian organizations who boycotted the toll booths at Halloween had thought about what they were doing…I mean, really thought their actions through, then they would have realized the simple fact that they did, indeed, do this to themselves. State government just opted to take the path of least resistance, which is to do away with the decorations altogether.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is where the conversation ended. I was “defriended” shortly after this. I gave her a few days to cool down and then wrote her a note telling her that I absolutely was not trying to offend her nor be offensive. She accepted my apology (though, I still don’t know exactly why I felt I should apologize. However, she is someone my daughter is associated with and I didn’t want to make things bizarre between she and my daughter) and continued to state that she felt I was mocking her religious beliefs. Now, I could have opened a brand new, fresh can of worms by telling her that the decorations in question have absolutely nothing to do with the religious aspect of what Christmas represents. I suppose that’s another story for another day. I shall save that one for the inevitable Easter vs. Passover debate.

What’s your take on the situation? Are you part of the “Leave Christ in Christmas” brigade that is easily offended when someone writes “Xmas”? Are you a “Happy Holidays” kind of person or do you feel the need to retaliate with a stern “Jesus is the reason for the season” reply to any who say that to you? Do you think that most people understand the origins of Christmas and/or Hannukah well enough to know that what I was saying was not necessarily offensive so much as it was an attempt to educate?

One thing that continues to make sense to me is the fact that after all this time, Jesus still has not come back. I mean, would you want to come back only to answer all these ridiculous theological and religious questions? I know I wouldn’t. He’s probably sitting back on some island somewhere, taking in the sun with a cold beer in one hand and the good book in the other saying “No shit. Really? Did I do that? I don’t remember saying THAT. Who wrote this crap? It had to be Luke. Maybe Matthew. No, wait. Paul. This has Paul written all over it, that damn prankster. When I get my hands on that little bitch, I am going to give him a piece of my mind, Dad dammit.”

16 thoughts on “When Religion and Tradition Collide…

  1. Angel Smith

    Dude. I hate repeating myself. Would have shanked her at take two. I’m just kidding. Sort of.

    Seriously, though, if people took half the energy they use to rail against every stupid little thing and directed it at some social ill, we’d be a lot better off. And I have found that as many Christians seem to think they are entitled to more religious freedom than others as I have found don’t. I don’t care to hear one more time that ‘this country was founded by Christian values’ as an excuse for infiltrating federal and state issues with Christian words, values, etc…..this country was ALSO founded upon the US Constitution, which our government disregards every time they regulate anything not specifically mentioned in the damn thing or a necessary part of the things specifically mentioned.

    The cliff notes version: quit bitching and just be loving examples of your religion, people, or STFU because you look like a douche.

    Reply
  2. CP

    Totally agree. I mean, by definition, anyone can have “Christian values” if you remain loving, open and non-judgmental or, at very least, not a hypocrite. I just want people of that faith to understand or acknowledge that other do exist this time of year. It’s not all about Christmas. There are other holidays, other traditions, other faiths and cultures that aren’t necessarily doing it wrong if they don’t follow what you do to the letter.

    What I always find disconcerting though is the fact that a store like Walmart (which I don’t frequent) or Publix (which I do) makes a statement on religion, culture and faith every year. Somehow, they manage to load their store up on Christmas decorations, wares and foodstuffs while my holiday (which mind you, is the religion that THEIR holiday evolved from) is relegated to perhaps one measly end cap consisting of paper menorahs, a box of matzoh (which has nothing to do with Hannukah at all) and a cheap ass bag of gelt. Not even the good chocolate either. The crappy dried up chocolate, likely from their Passover sale earlier in the year. You aren’t saying you are anti-Jew…but your actions sure scream it quite loudly.

    And if you are black and celebrating Kwanzaa up in these parts? Ha! Forget it. There’s NOTHING to represent your culture whatsoever, which is sad and pathetic.

    Reply
  3. shiny

    I wholeheartedly agree. “Merry Christmas” does not offend me as a Jew. The only issue I take is that (this year) Hanukkah falls incredibly early, and it coincides better with Thanksgiving than with Christmas. When people wish me a Happy Hanukkah now that it’s over, I feel that they’re doing their best to be as inclusive as possible, but they’re still missing the mark if they’re equating these two (very different) holidays.

    That being said — I wish you a very meaningful fast of “Asara b’Tevet” come this Friday. 😉

    Reply
  4. CP

    Thank you, Shiny. I am going to TRY to uphold the fast, but I think it’s going to be a little hard for me as it is also my wedding anniversary…and I will be on cruise ship heading out to Grand Turks and Caicos at that time. That’s a recipe for failure.

    I wish you a very happy holiday season and hope you had a lovely Hannukah. Yes, they are very different holidays, for sure, but I still appreciate the effort of my goy friends to make it all inclusive.

    I’ve learned to pick my battles. 😉

    Shalom.

    Reply
  5. Jan

    I don’t have much to say about politics or religion.
    I’m very much a ‘to each his own’ type of gal, and respect everybody’s customs/beliefs.
    When you mentioned the Merry Christmas on my banner, I KNOW you were not offended, but it made me think about it. Because I hadn’t even thought about it, you know? I just wrote Merry Christmas without even a second thought until you mentioned it. And now, I think that next year I’ll do “happy holidays” which should cover everybody, no?
    (holy crap, a lot of ‘thinks’ going on in that paragraph)

    I could give two shits about being PC. And I’m not overly religious. You could tell me that the Christmas Turtle swims up to your Island and recites the birth of the holiday fish and I’d be all “wooohoooo! here, have a present!”.

    I just like to spread the love 🙂

    Reply
  6. Absurdist

    I did the exact same thing on FB today.

    Now, the woman who wanted to keep things at “Merry Xmas” (yeah, I know, I use the X – she didn’t) is totally cool with me.

    And I had the same arguments as you do. I even explained that it’s not at all about being politically correct – it’s a matter of respect and recognition.

    And of course, I get slammed by the idiots that don’t have a reflective brain cell.

    So I get the response of “I think we all think too much”, and something about “tired of offending everyone” blah blah bullshit.

    So I’m sitting here reading this. I think to myself, first of all, you FRAKKIN’IDIOT, it’s not about offense. If you have an IQ above 20, and you can READ, you would have caught onto the fact that I stated that it isn’t about PC at all, but about respect and recognition of GLOBAL CULTURES and not our TINY LITTLE FRAKKIN’ culture in the US.

    Second, I told her that I had to disagree with the comment about “we think too much”. I told her that most people don’t think ENOUGH.

    But there is something I learned a long time ago.

    Never engage in a discussion (I don’t mean debate or argument, but those are included) with a Xtian. Ever. Even a turbo.

    Because faith cannot be backed up with evidence, it cannot be questioned. Additionally, there are very few Xtians I have met to date that have the ability to engage in a meaningful discourse regarding their faith and their “symbol” (bible; stolen from Firefly/Serenity) for the purpose of learning about their self and the other person.

    For some reason, when it comes to their faith, logic and reason fly out of the window. When I engage in discussions with Jews, however, I find the opposite to be true. I greatly enjoy those conversations, and learn a great deal.

    Now, as to my last and most enjoyable story:

    I used to live in the Dallas area; Frisco. It’s a city north of Dallas, considered part of the ‘burbs. It’s the bible belt. If you ain’t a Xtian, you must be of the devil. Having grown up in Austin, and going to Episcopal private schools my whole life, I kinda get it.

    Anyhoo, I really got tired of constantly getting told “Merry Christmas” when I shopped for the holidays. I wasn’t offended or anything. But I kept thinking, well, what if I was a Jew? And honestly, I was engaged in the commercialism; not the part of “Jesus the Christ” part. So why were they wishing me a “Merry Christmas?” Shouldn’t they be wishing me something more Pagan?

    So I put this out on FB, and made a joke. Many people understand my sense of humor. I am scathingly sarcastic; in fact, I can be downright offensive at times.

    So I stated that I was going to get a t-shirt made that said “I’m a Fucking Jew” and wear it all over Frisco at holiday time every year.

    And there were several reasons for this:
    1. We have few Jews there.
    2. I wanted people to stop and think.
    3. I REALLY like to piss people off.
    4. I REALLY like to piss off over-privileged trophy-wife pretentious women who go to church only to further their husbands’ careers.

    So, guess who unfriended me?

    My Jewish friends? Nope. They died laughing. It was my Turbo Xtian friends.

    And the next time someone tells me to stop using the X for X-mas, I tell them to not worry. I use it for “Christian” too – Xtian.

    I tell them that I am not prejudiced at all. Everyone is fair game in my book.

    Reply
  7. Absurdist

    Uh – sorry, clarification –

    “So I’m sitting here reading this”:

    This means I am sitting here reading this response from the woman.

    I also couldn’t include something because my response was too long.

    I call Jesus two things:

    1. Jesus
    2. Jesus the Christ

    There is a difference.

    Jesus was a man.
    And the Xtians believe he is THE Christ.

    So it seems weird to me to call him Jesus Christ. That’s not his last name.

    There is “The Christ”. Jesus was recognized by SOME as “The Christ”.

    Therefore, Jesus, known by SOME, is “Jesus the Christ”.

    That is what I call him.

    Oh, and I take every opportunity possible to remind every Xtian who likes to get on their little superiority soapbox that they pale in numbers when compared to the Muslims.

    That always gets them riled up. Then you get to have a discourse about Islam and its history.

    I LOVE doing that. But of course, I live to rile up the Xtians. It’s actually a lot of fun.

    🙂

    Reply
  8. Middy

    Xmas – Believe it or not is from the Greek form ΧĪÎšĪƒĪ„ÎŋĪ‚ (Xristos). That is the Greek for Christ. It has nothing to do with blasphemy, it’s a Greek short hand.

    The short hand was first used by the early European CHRISTIANS. Back in the time when normal folks were not literate the clergy would be the literate folks. Also, in order to communicate with other clergymen of different countries they wrote all their letters in either Latin or Greek. Those two languages were commonly read and written by the clergy as a common ground between all the churches.

    So if people wanna complain about it, they have to blame their clergy when the churches were still in their infancy.

    And us Greeks lol

    Reply
  9. Christie

    I’m a Texan girl born, bred and raised. This means that I was indoctrinated into the church as a kid, because that’s what you do around here.

    I was lucky enough (yes, I said it) to have had a family that wasn’t as strict on their religion as most around us were, and in our times of moving place to place, the need to find time to go to church lessened. So I grew up with a basic understanding of it, but none of the drive and compulsion to follow rules older than dirt.

    I can’t say I don’t understand the outrage at Merry Christmas being replaced by something else. Except I think about it in terms completely different than some.

    When you speak “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Yule” or whatever it is you want to say… you aren’t saying it to convert them or push your ideas on them. You are doing it to express your own ideas.

    As a pagan, do I get offended when someone wishes me Merry Christmas? Of course not.. because that is how they believe and express their wish for a merry season. Same as any other holiday one wishes to express to me. I simply wish them the same back and move on.

    I liken it to people getting offended about people having religious scripture or something on their email signatures. Why are you offended? Is your own belief threatened because they expressed thiers?

    The entire idea of it is disgusting. Happy Holidays may be a PC term (and let’s face it, PC has gone WAY the hell out of control), but it is one of the few PC terms that actually make sense.

    Besides, Christmas itself was a purely made up holiday that has no basis in anything except the Church wanted to convert pagans so overtook one of their own holidays by making one up and putting it on Dec. 25th. How can you really take the holiday that seriously, when it has no real basis in anything?

    Reply
  10. ginviren

    I pretty much agree with everyone here. I haven’t seen this nonsense on my FB feed YET (and I do stress the YET), but I expect it any day. And I’m fully prepared to set people straight if necessary.

    I don’t care if people tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us. It’s only when a specific group of people (usually the Christians) who insist that only ONE WAY IS RIGHT.

    Yeah, I’m gonna go with no on that one.

    And on that note, I’m going to say…”Happy Thursday!” 😉

    Reply
  11. Crystal

    I got into the exact argument on Facebook earlier this week. I finally decided to stop trying to argue with the girl, since she had already made up her mind that I was somehow persecuting her because I was using her own logic against her.

    Reply
  12. Lurker Girl

    All I can add is: You can’t fix stupid!

    Everyone should be able to celebrate their own way–religious freedom is one of the basis of our country–Merry Ranahaunkwansmas kind of covers everything..

    and Happy Festivus to the rest of us!

    Reply
  13. Lex

    My take on this, as honestly and without the least intent to offend as I can muster, is that the bottom line is that the offended Christians are punking out of saying what they REALLY mean by their whining. What they really mean is: We believe our religion trumps all others and we should be left alone in our self-absorbed expressions and willful disregard and intolerance for anyone else’s beliefs.

    I am so sick of Christians throwing “PC” around like it’s a fucking curse word. It’s called RESPECT. And, before I get called the Anti-Christ, I was raised as a TOLERANT CHRISTIAN, which seems to be a damned oxymoron these days.

    Happy Winter Solstice, CP!

    Reply
  14. CP

    Angel – Last sentence? Fucking EXACTLY that!

    Jan – Xmas turtle…LOL That’s funy shit.

    Middy – yeah yeah, you Greeks are just the shit, we all know that. Blah blah blah.

    Christie – I think the notion of “Happy Holidays” is totally stupid. Who cares. Say whatever the hell you want. I may just make up a word next year for when people say Happy Holidays to me. I might come back with “And a Merry Purple Tumbleweed to you as well”. That should get them wondering WTF I meant all day long. LMAO

    Gin – And a happy thursday to you too…she says on a Thursday, but a week later! LOL

    Crystal – See Lurker Girls comment below yours? First sentence applies.

    Lurker Girl – Nice to see you again, Friend. Happy Whatever!

    Lex – A tolerant christian IS an oxymoron…but if anyone can handle it with grace and aplomb, I know it’s you. No ones religion trumps any one elses. And it is all a matter of respect. Sadly, it is a little practiced art any longer.

    Reply
  15. marty mankins

    This was an excellent write up of your discussion.

    I’ve had similar “Christmas is a pagan holiday” discussion with others many times. Some laugh, some get angry “Don’t disrespect MY beliefs”

    Even though I’m mostly a mix of agnostic and atheist, I still celebrate christmas. It’s more about tradition, family time, presents and time off work to relax. I do get tired of the commercial side of it all, with being busy, doing things, buying stuff, etc.

    I’m more about people enjoying time with friends and families this time of the year. Celebrate how you wish, but without being a douche about it.

    Someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I wish them a Merry Christmas back. If I initiate the greeting, it’s Happy Holidays. Seems simple enough to me. I loathe those that get their panties in a bunch in their defense of Christ’s birthday, paganly speaking.

    Reply
  16. John B

    Thing is I get to these topics so late, everyone has already said, and said better, everything that I wanted to say. I was going to found a new religion. the holidays and holy days would be scheduled to take advantage of the sales. I suspect this will be denounced as Mammonism, the worship of money. I guess I do, as money isn’t a plentiful thing. It’s there in my life as often as God….
    Maybe slightly less often.

    Reply

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