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About Christmas


The Christmas wars, a.k.a. the "December Dilemma"
"Tis the season to be in conflict."

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What is this?

A Christmas tree? (Christianity)
A tree to celebrate Ashura, a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims?
A Hanukkah bush? (Judaism)
A Yule tree? (Wiccan)
A Winter Solstice tree (Atheist)
An excessively-decorated Festivus tree (Secular)
A decorated tree to commemorate Kwanzaa (Secular)
or all of the above, plus many more as seen by followers of other religions?


Christmas Wars in a nutshell:

The "Retail" comic strip for 2009-DEC-23 expressed the "lose-lose" situation faced by many retailers at this time of year. The captions of the three panel strip read:


Sales person: "Merry Christmas"

Customer 1 (loudly): "I'm not a Christian!"


Sales person: "Happy Holidays"

Customer 2 (loudly)" "Christmas hater!"


Sales person: "Bye"

Customer 3, next in line: "Wow. Some people are so cold."


Customer 4: "Mmm"


Copying the theme found in Sesame Street: this section of our web site is brought to you by the letter "S."

That letter is the root cause of the "Christmas Wars" in December of each year: The question is whether the publicity departments of stores and store employees should use the term:

  • "Merry Christmas." This indicates that the only celebration or holy day worthy of observing is the Christian observance of Christmas, or

  • "Happy Holidays." This indicates that there are many celebrations, both secular and religious, at this time of year that are worth observing.

The hot button item that causes so much conflict at this time of year is the letter "s" at the end of "Happy Holidays:" It poses the question: Is there one holiday or are there multiple holidays in December that should be acknowledged?

An parallel question is whether the U.S. should be viewed as:

  • A Christian country that gives special recognition to Christianity above all other religions and lack of religion, or

  • A multi-faith country composed of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, other Neopagans, followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, adherents of other religions, and the NOTAs (sometimes called the NONES). The latter are persons not affiliated with any religion -- including Agnostics, Atheists, freethinkers, secularists, skeptics, etc.

The religious makeup of the U.S. is in a state of flux. The percentage of NOTAs and adherents of non-Christian religions is increasing. The percentage of Christians is in a slow downward spiral, largely because teens are leaving and never returning.

Many conservative Christian groups are promoting Christmas-only greetings. A few years ago, some fundamentalist groups gave up attempts at reason and resorted to economic boycotts to force unwilling stores to meet the fundamentalists' goals. However, they seem to have abandoned such strong-arm tactics and reverted to merely making list of which retailers are acknowledging diversity -- as in the sign below -- or are adopting a Christmas-only policy. Liberty Counsel has its Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign; The American Family Association (AFA) has its 2011 "Naughty or Nice" list.

Happy holidays sign

This is a lose-lose situation for U.S. retailers who, above all, do not wish to make their customers angry. No matter what phrase is used, the store is going to alienate some customers.

The conflict appears to have reached a peak circa 2004 and is has been fading in recent years.

Topics covered in this section are:

bulletOverview of the "Christmas wars"
bulletThe nature of, causes of, and reaction to the "Christmas wars"
bulletA more detailed introduction to the "wars"
bulletWhat do the public and stores feel about the "wars?"
bullet The Christmas office party: an urban legend"
bullet Celebrations near Christmas time: By various religions & by individuals

What is the original "reason for the season"

bulletBrief descriptions of some recent events during the Christmas wars:
bulletDuring 2004
bulletDuring 2005
bulletMore conflicts during 2005
bulletHouse Resolution 579 to protect Christmas
bulletDuring 2006
bulletDuring 2007
bulletDuring 2008
bulletDuring 2009
bulletMore 2009 events
bullet During 2010

bullet During 2011: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

bulletReactions to the conflicts by various groups and individuals
bullet Alternatives to conflict:
bulletThe Peace Tree
bulletCultural displays at Christmas time

Site navigation:

Home > Religious information > Christmas >  here

Home > Christianity > Beliefs, practices, etc > Holy days > Christmas >  here

Home > Religious hatred & conflicts > Specific conflicts >  here

 Home page > Religious tolerance > Cooperation > here

 Home page > Spirituality menu > Religious tolerance > Cooperation > here

 www.JustSayHappyHolidays.com > here

 www.SayMerryChristmas.org > here

 www.SayHappyHolidays.org > here

Copyright © 2004 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2004-DEC-04
Latest update and review: 2011-DEC-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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