War On Christmas Based in Consumerism

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Last Tuesday, Jon Stewart declared war against the pundits who oppose the "War On Christmas." Outraged by Fox’s sensational segment on perceived Christmas jeers, Stewart said simply: “If there has been a war, Christmas is the aggressor nation.” (You can watch parts one and two of this bit on Comedy Central’s website.) The next day, Fox News Bill O’Reilly jokingly fired back, saying “Now, there is no question that Mr. Stewart is going to hell.”

Also consider that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s latest campaign ad criticizes Obama’s “war on religion” and #XmasWarDiary was a trending topic on Twitter last week. Clearly, Christians feel Christmas, and their religion, is under attack again this year. This is not the case, for Christians are free to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but consumerism and humanism are now the accepted reason for the season, further solidifying the broad acceptability of the holiday.

Lexus encourages us to remember December, for the spirit of the season is essentially what Stewart communicated in his closing: “I wish you a happy end to the fiscal fourth quarter.” No matter if you plan to light a tree or a menorah, you’re going to open presents, too.

But Lexus commercials also show how presents can bring people together. It’s easier to justify spending a lot of money if it’s for someone you love. And even when a Christmas movie as campy as Jingle All the Way critiques materialism, it touts the power of generosity and the importance of family.

And generosity and family are not bad things. Neither are reasons to hate the holiday or begrudge other fourth-quarter celebrations. Indeed Hanukah and Kwanza both involve gift-giving and family time as well. Even though the birth of Jesus, miracle of Hanukah, and African heritage are distinctly different reasons to celebrate, all celebrants still buy presents and try to enjoy time with their families. Only with Festivus are presents forgone in favor of feats of strength and the airing of grievances.

The hegemonic coexistence of Christianity and capitalism in Western culture means Christmas is universally celebrated, but it’s primarily about consumerism, justified by humanism. Early Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus in December to avoid persecution around Saturnalia. Christians today should be grateful that they can safely celebrate the same thing this year, despite what Christmas actually means for most people. 

Photo Credit: alliecreative

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Nathan Stringer

Nathan is currently earning his master's in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation at the London School of Economics. He previously studied modern history and creative writing at Pepperdine University.

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