By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 12/25/11
This time of year we celebrate a very significant birthday.
The birth of one who so dramatically affected history, that it provided the
line of demarcation in reference to the human timeline. Anno Domini, Latin for “the year of our Lord,” contracted to AD, is
affixed to all legal documentation signifying years since that important birth,
and BC, or “Before Christ,” represents the human timeline before that
historically documented advent.
Birthdays are significant for they acknowledge the arrival
of someone who has touched and influenced the lives others. They’re much more
than just acknowledgement of a single day representing their arrival on the
scene, but rather celebrate the contributions and influence of one’s life on
others. Based solely on the universally accepted Gregorian calendar, there is
no more significant birthday than Jesus Christ’s.
Academics seeking to secularize the de facto Gregorian calendar
dating system used globally, have attempted to replace the AD and BC
designations with the more nonsectarian references of CE and BCE, or Common Era
and Before Common Era. But try as they might, they just can’t seem to get away
from the dating system centered on the birth of one Jesus of Nazareth. However
they choose to reference it, it’s still based on the birth and life of Jesus.
Even though December 25th is not the day Christ
was born, it has become the worldwide custom for acknowledging and celebrating
it. The actual date of His birth is unknown, although Biblical scholars are in
unanimity that it was not the 25th day of the twelfth month.
Recognizing it at that time was very convenient early on since pagan
festivities were in full swing at that time of year and it allowed early
Christians to celebrate Christ’s birth unnoticed since they wouldn’t appear
conspicuously celebrating at a time the pagans weren’t.
The tables have turned over the centuries. Here in American
apparently 92% of us celebrate Christmas, while only 6% claim they do not. And
only 25% of those, according to the same Rasmussen survey, indicate that they
celebrate a holiday other than Christmas at this time of year. When you do the
math, that’s 92% that celebrate Christmas, 1.5% who celebrate a different
holiday, 4.5% who don’t acknowledge any holiday this time of year, and 2% that don’t
seem to know.
Yet in spite of the overwhelming celebration and support of
Christmas, there seems to be no shortage of “Grinches” intent on dampening the
spirit of the season. The ACLU in Tennessee sends out letters to 137 school
administrators admonishing them to not focus on “one particular religious
holiday,” (wonder which one they mean?) Carolers are thrown out of a post
office. The governor of Rhode Island declares the official state Christmas tree
a “holiday tree.” Stores direct their employees to wish customers “Happy
Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” apparently incognizant of the fact
that the numbers (92% versus 1.5%) are firmly in the “Merry Christmas” camp.
And misguided and intolerant groups and individuals force the removal of the
iconic symbols of the Holy Day, like Nativity scenes, somehow believing their
rights are impinged upon by such displays
Much like the academicians who just can’t bring themselves
to acknowledge Christ’s birth in their scholarly works, cultural secularists
take umbrage at even the reference to the holy day based loosely on his birth.
To those of such thin skin, intolerance, and narrow
mindedness, I would gently direct them to review their calendar, which lists
the official federal holidays each year. Right there in black and white it says
“Christmas” on December 25th. It doesn’t say “Holidays,” or
“Seasons,” or any other politically-correct yet factually errant appellation,
it says “Christmas.”
And the efforts to cleanse the country of Nativity scenes,
whether on public property or not, is as illogical and misguided as removal of
Pilgrims from all Thanksgiving festivities, or Old Glory from 4th of
July celebrations would be. The icons and symbolism of holidays are fundamental
to holiday observance.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states that, “Congress
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof.” To rational people, recognizing a national holiday that
happens to have “Christ” in the name, no more constitutes an “establishment of
religion” than a public prayer does. Yet efforts to thwart those outward
expressions is clearly a violation of “the free exercise thereof,” perhaps not
by congress, but by intolerant and misguided malcontents exercising the tyranny
of the 1.5% minority.
As long as the official calendar says “Christmas Day,” then
Christmas programs, Christmas trees, expressions of Merry Christmas, and the
symbolism of the holiday are themselves politically correct, appropriate, and
culturally viable. And in that spirit, I lend my voice in contributing to the
chorus of the 92% with my own, “Merry Christmas to all!”