It’s that time of year…
- When families travel far and wide to get together.
- When children bake delicious goodies with their parents.
- When people gather around to exchange gifts and sing carols.
That’s right--the Christmas spirit is in the air, and it’s time to celebrate.
And on behalf of My Patriot Supply, I’d like to sincerely wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.
Now, to us, saying “Merry Christmas” communicates the spreading of good tidings and offers up a sincere greeting.
Unfortunately, there have been many situations throughout history (and even today) where the phrase and other aspects of Christmas itself have been threatened by official bans--and struggled to survive. Read on to learn about three instances where this has happened in the United States...
#1: Puritans Banning Christmas in Early America.
One of the first attacks on Christmas came from Christians themselves, the Puritans, to be exact. They were a pious religious minority who fled the persecution of the Anglican majority in England.
In the 17th century, they outlawed celebrations of Christmas because it didn’t align with their interpretation of the Bible. Additionally, they associated it with the Church of England and the old-world customs they wanted to leave behind.
At that time, violence often played out as people became increasingly drunk during Christmas festivities. Because this way of celebrating didn’t adhere to their strict values, they banned Christmas celebrations starting in 1659.
"For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others: it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county."
From the records of the General Court,
Massachusetts Bay Colony
May 11, 1659
It wasn’t until 22 years later, in 1681, that the ban was lifted.
#2: School Districts Banning “Merry Christmas.”
In the present day, public schools have been a particularly heated battleground over the freedom to say “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.”
For example, in 2011, a school district in Batavia, New York, banned the phrase “Merry Christmas” in all spoken and written remarks. Additionally, both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations were forbidden in the classroom.
Both parents and teachers were appalled by the measure. Although the district insisted the policy had been adopted in 2001 as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, it seems no one attempted to enforce it until 10 years later.
Many parents and teachers thought the district went too far in an attempt to be politically correct. Lucy Hudson, a parent of a child in the district, shared, "I'm just appalled that they would do away with Merry Christmas. It's been Christmas all these years and now to a bunch of people, that's not politically correct. I think that's a bunch of baloney."
Although our country recognizes the separation between church and state, Christmas day itself is a federally recognized holiday and has been since 1870. For many families, the phrase “Merry Christmas” has moved beyond religious meaning--and simply communicates well wishes and holiday cheer.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review found that “the number of people who said they preferred to hear ‘Happy Holidays’ has decreased sharply in the last 10 years, from 41 percent to 25 percent. ‘Merry Christmas’ remained popular.”
Fortunately, this ban has been the case in only a few school districts, and not country-wide.
#3: Christmas Banned in Retail Promotions.
In 2005, Target Corporation excluded the use of the word “Christmas” in its promotional material at the start of the holiday season.
Instead, according to Snopes, promotional signs included nonspecific holiday slogans, such as “Savings for the Season” or “Gather Round.” Even Christmas-specific products were labeled with the phrase “Traditional Holiday” rather than “Christmas.” For example, Christmas stockings were identified as “Traditional holiday stockings” and Christmas tree ornaments were described as “Traditional holiday ornaments.”
This was all, to be blunt, pretty ridiculous. And fortunately, this didn’t last for long. Due to backlash from customers, Target ended up shifting their promotional material in the second week of December, and the term “Christmas” was added back into the material.
According to Penn Live, in 2010, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village experienced a similar predicament after receiving complaints about their use of the word “Christmas” in signage at the entrance.
Similar to those set up each year in German town centers, German American Marketing Inc. had set up these Christmas markets next to Philadelphia’s City Hall. Due to the complaints in 2010 for not being inclusive, the company removed the word “Christmas” from signage and subsequently removed signage altogether.
This didn’t make sense at all, considering that the point of the market was to mimic a specific Christmas tradition from Germany. As one of the crafts vendors told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "It's ridiculous. This is a German Christmas tradition. It's about the principle of the matter."
At My Patriot Supply, we choose to proudly wish everyone a "Merry Christmas." We believe in our right to express holiday cheer in this way. To be inclusive, other viewpoints shouldn’t mean having to ban or censor our own beliefs.
When it comes to it, all of these attempts to be inclusive by banning Christmas are forgetting the principles laid out by our constitutional rights. We have the freedom to choose how to express ourselves. Forcing one belief or expression while banning another is purely unconstitutional.
It’s time to support what each of us holds dear, stop standing against each other, embrace our differences, and keep the traditions we cherish alive.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply