Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Holidays

Get ready... I'm about to make some people irritated. It is time for everyone to take a moment to read my content warning. If your ego is a delicate lily, you might want to skip this one.

I prefer to say, "Happy Holidays" throughout December. I say "Merry Christmas" on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I guess that makes me a horrible Christian.

Before irate readers Google my home address to come drag me out for a public flogging, let me explain:

The word "Holiday" comes from the Middle English word holidai. It means "Holy Day". When you say "Happy Holidays" you are saying "Happy Holy Days". I refuse to surrender this pious greeting to a bunch of atheists and pagans just so that they can have free ammunition to further subvert Christ and His church. There are many Christian "Holy Days" through December and January today: The Second Sunday in Advent. Are they not worth fighting for? For most Christians, they are not even worth learning about. We don't celebrate. We don't fast. We don't attend church services. What do we do? We shop and visit relatives.

The entire season of Advent is one of holy preparation, but who cares about that? The argument should not be over the syntax of a particular greeting, but what constitutes a "holy day". So when I say "Happy Holidays" you assume that I am talking about Kwanza and the like? That just proves my point. "Holy Day" no longer means a thing to anyone. I am talking about the feast and fast days of Advent. We are the ones being secular.

Now there are Christians today who hate the phrase "Happy Holidays" because it is being perverted by the spirit of antichrist to take away Christmas. I think that we have played right into the trap. We don't defend the meaning of the word "holiday". We just abandon it and retreat. Instead of preserving Christmas as the DAY of Christ's birth, we diluted the entire season by focusing an entire month on only one aspect of the season: the actual nativity. Saying "Merry Christmas" on December 1st makes about as much sense as saying "Happy Easter" on March 4th. Part of the impact of Easter is the Lent that precedes it. Part of the impact of Christmas is the Advent that precedes it. Apparently, we are just going to give that up to preserve the "important" days. It is obvious to me that Christianity is in full surrender mode.

To be honest, this blame game of silly word play is becoming quite tiresome. American Protestants created this problem when they threw out the church year and made the public Christian life about two days [Christmas & Easter] instead of a cycle of 365 days of Christianity. If we had preserved the feasts and festivals of Advent properly, we might still have "Happy Holidays" and the atheists would have to contest against a solid month filled with many Christian festivals and observances. We handed victory over to the atheists and the pagans when we decided that the Christmas season was only about the historic birth of Jesus. We gave them Santa Claus when we stopped preserving the true Feast of St Nicholas. We gave them the word "Holidays" when we stopped informing people that the word is a religious term. We gave them a foothold to celebrate other festivals when we surrendered all of our feasts in favor of only one: Christmas Day. Then we took that day and cheapened it with all of the secular behavior and traditions that we participate in.

This isn't about the secular trend of the holiday season. This is about the secular trend of Christians. As the church becomes more and more like the world, the world will find it easier and easier to marginalize the impact of the church. The fall of Christmas is not a problem of the weakening culture but a symptom of the disease of secularism in the church. Every year I hear people desperately calling out that we need to put the Christ back in Christmas. How about also putting the mass back in Christmas?

"Christmas" is also a Middle English word: Christemasse. It is a contraction of the phrase "Christ's Mass" or "The Mass of Christ". How many churches today actually celebrate mass on Christmas Day? Ask around: How many churches in your town will have services on the 25th of December? Most Christians do not go to church on Christ's Mass Day... because the day that they spend a whole month defending with shrill voices and patronizing arrogance is not really about Jesus to them. It is about spending time with food, family, friends, and gifts. Now who is being secular?!?

For all of their barking and whimpering about people not knowing "the reason for the season", most Christians today have no clue that "Christ's Mass Day" is not just a family day. It is a celebration of the church. Where and how you spend the 25th is a hint at what you really think the day is about. If you are one of the ones who makes it a point to publically state how much you hate how secular Christmas has become, you should take your own advice and celebrate it as a Christian should. If you do not even care enough to celebrate Christ's Mass with His church, then you are part of the problem.

It almost seems like Christians these days just want to shout and blame instead of think and work. We need to change that. So when someone wishes you "Happy Holidays", might I suggest a different approach? Instead of angrily pointing a judgemental finger and shouting "It's MERRY CHRISTMAS!", try bringing up what the word "Holiday" really means. Why not teach them about Advent, Christmas, and the future coming of Christ? It is a teaching moment, not a fighting moment. Too often, we fight when we should love and preach the Gospel.

Happy holidais and have a merry Christemasse!

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