Is the widespread celebration of Christmas insensitive to other religions?
- Gallup polling reported that 93% of Americans celebrated Christmas in 2019.
- Christmas is an official holiday in over 160 countries. The handful of countries where Christmas is not celebrated mainly reside in African or middle-eastern regions with Islamic prominence.
- The English word Christmas comes from Catholicism’s “mass on Christ’s day.”
- ‘Christ’ is not Jesus’s last name. The word ‘Christ’ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah,’ which means “chosen” or “anointed one.”
- Between the 3rd and 4th century AD, the Roman historian Sextus Julius Africanus dated Christ’s conception to March 25, which resulted in his projected December 25th birth nine months later. Most historians today agree Jesus was most likely born in September between 6-4 BC.
Sensitivity to religion and holidays stands with American values. Likewise, discouraging one holiday's domination socially, economically, or culturally also falls right alongside America's freedom-of-religion tradition. Although most Americans observe Christmas, Americans who celebrate a 'strongly religious' Christmas have significantly dropped in recent years to 35%. Therefore, American culture can easily and should make room for other festivals—religious or not—to take prominence each winter.
Making room doesn't mean erasing Christmas customs but simply highlighting other holidays that frequently get overlooked and diminished in the culture decade after decade. On the contrary, establishing a preference for one holiday (in this case, Christmas) over all others is less fair than the alternative of simply elevating others throughout the season, and the argument becomes insensitive to that awareness.
Furthermore, those who celebrate other holidays could find more familial harmony through more acceptance. Some avoid or dread family functions that might feature passionate Christmas themes because it is insensitive to the religious preferences of those who are not specifically Christian.
Lastly, Christmas memorializes Jesus' birth on December 25th. This date was presented in 350 CE by Pope Julius I; however, historians speculate the date is plausible in various months, like March or September. In any case, December 25th was probably chosen due to its convenient timing around then-popular pagan winter celebrations during the Christian conquest. Therefore, the advent of modern Christmas is a direct result of encroachment on other's religions in the first place. While there's no point in changing the date now, those who celebrate Christmas should consider religious sensitivity so long as the holiday remains predominant in Western culture. Overall, Americans would find more peace during the holidays if there were a cultural incentive for inclusivity.
Christmas was created to celebrate the birth of the Lord and Savior of Christians, Jesus Christ. While some pagan elements have joined with Christmas over the years, it does not detract from the celebration's main purpose: celebrating Jesus' coming. A major reason Christmas is so widely celebrated in western nations, particularly, is because countries like Switzerland, France, Spain, the UK, America, etc., were shaped by Christian-Judeo values since the gospel first spread throughout the Roman Empire’s reign following Christ’s historical resurrection. Therefore, it’s natural that the celebration of such an important Christian holiday would take precedence in societies once so grounded in and founded by Christian ideals.
The question is not whether celebrating Christmas is insensitive to others; rather, is it insensitive to Christians to make Christmas about anything other than Jesus? This 'war on Christmas' is nothing new and happens as American society moves leftward, becoming increasingly secular. The first amendment protects Americans’ right to celebrate Christmas or any holiday they choose. This right cannot and should not be infringed upon simply because it may offend some.
Holidays like Hannukah are not considered insensitive to others when it is solely a Jewish celebration. It is not Christmas's fault that it’s objectively more popular and universally celebrated than others. It is indicative of how Christianity is the largest religion practiced worldwide. Christians understand that increased cultural animosity against Christmas stems from a rejection of Jesus himself. This is to be expected, as he said in John 15:18, 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.' Critics don't care which holidays are celebrated as long as they aren't Jesus-centered. Again, Christians are asked to tolerate objections against their beliefs, but tolerance is rarely applied to them.