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The Illustrated Guide To The War On Christmas

Who will win the war on Christmas?

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Every December, ancient Romans celebrated Saturn (their god of agriculture) by reversing social norms. Roman slaves temporarily became rulers and rulers became slaves.

During this time, the Christian Church was trying to up their game. However, being small and without the big pagan marketing budgets, they decided to hijack Saturnalia by sneaking in their own made-up holiday.

Kinda. Although the church did win pagan souls for Christ with its holiday-hijacking, it lost control over how the Nativity Feast/Christmas was celebrated. Christmas simply became Saturnalia by another name. Surely, the church thought, those old drinking, looting and criminal traditions would fade away and be replaced with somber, reverent and fully (or mostly) clothed Christian ways! But they didn’t.

…the public’s celebration exploded into the streets with raucous carnivals and lavish pageants, transforming Christmas into something that was more like a drunken mashup of Halloween meets Mardi Gras.

Like the original Saturnalia traditions, flip-flopped social norms were prevalent. Those who were lower in social and economic status drove the festivities. They roamed the streets, using a literal “trick or treat” method to demand food and booze from their wealthier neighbors.

Desperate to put a stop to this raucous celebration, the Church started to backpedal their holiday hijack. They realized that mankind was far more deviant, drunk and perverse when they celebrated this one holy day than they were all the other days of the year… combined!!

“Well,” the Church thought, “the Bible never commanded followers to recognize Christ’s birth, so… maybe….we should just… BAN CHRISTMAS!” Shortly after, they got their wish! The Puritan Commonwealth overthrew the English government, and they did what Puritans did best– ban things! Christmas was on the chopping block! Any holiday greens or seemingly festive displays were promptly lit and burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, in early America, the war on Christmas was still going strong! Early American Puritans issued their own Christmas smack-down, fining anyone who remotely exhibited “the Christmas spirit.”

But Christmas wasn’t done fighting. It continued to creep into America through immigrants, drunken sailors, and randy teens who were looking for a good time. Christmas just couldn’t be squelched. It kept popping up over and over again.

So….it was finally asked… if Christmas couldn’t be terminated, could it at least be tamed..? What kind of Christmas miracle needed to happen to transform it into the holiday we know today??? Well, ironically, it wasn’t the baby Jesus who saved Christmas!

Sure, today we like to complain that Santa and shopping have destroyed Christmas, but historically speaking, they actually saved it! Santa and shopping actually played a critical role in making Christmas the family-friendly holiday we know today vs the rioting Mardi Gras carnival of the past!

This change started to slowly snowball when Clement Clarke Moore penned “A Visit from St Nicholas.” In his poem, Moore created a legendary myth that possessed the familiar Christmas rituals of inverted social constructs… minus the rioting and looting. Santa Claus gave Americans a way to safely and intimately celebrate and spoil those who were at the bottom of their own family’s hierarchy – their children!

And what about the Christmas rioting behavior? We have store owners to thank for helping clean that up! Shops helped police the carnival masses, making sure the streets were safe and inviting for their hoards of holiday consumers!

So maybe Christmas isn’t what we always thought it was. It’s been through some rough patches. Some ups. Some downs. Like all of us, it had some evolving and personal development to do. But there’s one thing history has shown us, Christmas is resilient. And if there’s a war on Christmas… Christmas. Always. Wins.

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