Thursday, December 22, 2005

Please don't try to include me.

Why is that so many Christian acquaintances of mine try so hard to convince me that Christmas is American, and not Christian? Why the need to show me every article talking about the American nature of Christmas, its universality, its appeal to people of all religions?

It's not that I don't like Christmas -- it's just that it's not my holiday. I don't care how many Americans celebrate it or how secular it is or that its major symbolic imagery at this stage in history couldn't be more divorced from religion; it's not a holiday for Jews.

Don't tell me you know Jews who celebrate Christmas because they enjoy the spirit of the season. Don't tell me about the kid you went to school with who was totally Jewish but had a Christmas tree because she liked the smell. I really don't want to hear it.

Christmas is, at heart, about the birth of Jesus, and Jesus is hailed by Christians as the son of God. Here's the bare truth: Jews don't believe that; it's antithetical to Judaism to believe in Jesus as anything other than a human being. And you can't expect us to be participants in a holiday which has as its raison d'etre a concept that is diametrically opposed to our beliefs. We don't even feel bad about it, so don't try to find ways to include us.

I wish my Christian friends a "Merry Christmas," and we send cards and presents as appropriate to our friends and family who celebrate it (intermarriage at work). And I have no problem with public celebrations such as the White House Christmas Tree and the like. I think we should keep the Christ in Christmas. But it's not my holiday, OK?

It's insulting to me that you can't just enjoy your holiday; you have to make me a part of it. It's a fairly close parallel to what Antiochus and the Greeks tried to do two thousand or so years ago in a little story we remember every year at Hanukkah. (OK, not a very close parallel -- but religious coercion is what we're talking about.)

Deck your halls, flock your tree, drink your egg nog, have a merry Christmas... just leave me out of it.


stc said...

Have a happy Hannukah, B2!

The Misanthrope said...

I heard about this on NPR KPCC-FM this morning, so I clicked over to Amazon and provided you with the following, and you know, it seems there is minimal religion involved with Christmas, well until the zealous hypocritical Christians got involved.

“Nicholas The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus” by Jeremy Seal, shows the evolution of one of the greatest cults of modern times—the rise of Santa Claus from his origins in Byzantine Turkey to his role as the jolly man who grants every child’s wish. It is a compelling story of religious worship and strife, cultural interpretation, and mass commercialization.

An unassuming fourth-century bishop become a 21st-century icon who usually went out of his way to be nice to children. Said to have secretly provided a poverty-stricken nobleman with enough dowry to marry off his three daughters, Nicholas had humble beginnings. Despite achieving the not insignificant distinction of sainthood via good works rather than martyrdom, his road to international fame wasn't easy by any means, what with Christian cities that revered him suddenly falling to non-Christians and banishing all things Christ-related. Then there was that pesky Reformation, when all saints became personae non gratae. Those obstacles came to seem speed bumps compared with others that Nikolai/Mikulas/Nicolaos/Nigul Klaus/Sinterklaas/Santa Claus would encounter.

Jack Steiner said...

Well said

Chandira said...

I'm sorry you have Christmas forced on you. But it is becoming absolutely nothing to do with religion any more.. It's about the most secular holiday there is!
Robert hates Christmas too. But the 'spirit of Christmas' is all about dropping the usual ego and just enjoying your loved ones. ~Like we need an excuse to do that one day a year! I know, that part sucks.
Our (non-Christian!) community celebrates it on that basis, and it's just a festival of gifting those people you love, and celebrating all that's good in human nature.
I grew up with Christmas excitement, like most kids in my generation in England, and I can't help love it. I find it hard every year living with somebody that refuses to celebrate it. I forced it on Robert a little this year, and put up a tree.

Unknown said...

chandira. . . well. . . isn't . . . well. . . aren't you kinda . . . well. . . isn't that kinda what he's talking about? ummm. . . happy holidays.

Little Toy Robot said...

"It's not that I don't like Christmas -- it's just that it's not my holiday." So simple, yet so true. Why is it hard for people to understand that?! Thanks for devoting a post to this.

Anonymous said...

Very good post man. Very well put.