I saw a billboard here in San Diego (on University in Hillcrest), which reads "Jesus is the ONLY reason for the season," apparantly sponsored by two businessmen. To paraphrase Jeff Dunham's Achmed the Dead Terrorist: "Don't say Merry Christmas, it only irritates the other infidels.". That is a very profound statement.

What season? Let's start with the Jewish faith. Today was the first day of Hanukkah. To a Muslim, an infidel holiday. How about Kwanzaa (no, not the currency). Sort of bookends this Christmas thing. Observed by individuals of "color". Also, as viewed from the Muslim perspective, another holiday for infidels.

So, we end up with a season that has meaning to Jews, Christians, and those of the African persuasion. All infidels. Now, I hate to break the news to you, but Christ could have been born between March and August. Those that celebrate "Christmas in July" may be closer to the truth. There is much scholarly debate, and I can cite one source here: http://www.hebrew4christians.net/Articles/Christmas/christmas.html

The short version is that the Catholic church (in 336 AD) declared December 25th to be Jesus's birthday in order to replace a pagan Roman holiday, Saturnalia (ironically, the birthday of the sun god). You will also find equally compelling arguments for a Winter birth. In light of these uncertainties, maybe it is adviseable to take a humble attitude and confess our ignorance of the matter.

Now, back to that signboard. I am not the only one who has felt offended by the wording (I saw it on Google), regardless of my personal beliefs. The statement excludes the celebration of the major tenets of Christianity, and the message that Jesus brought. The season means goodwill toward all men. To love others. To be with family. To share. The signboard is exclusionary. It is for everything that Jesus was against.

More like this:

Comments

David Dodd Dec. 11, 2009 @ 4:55 p.m.

"It is for everything that Jesus was against."

Actually, the reason that God sent his son, according to most versions of the bible, was to offer redemption to humanity through receiving the Christ as the savior. While the billboard seems offensive to non-Christians, the message is not inaccurate as relating to Christian beliefs. All religions are exclusionary by their nature. And all religions (and non-religions) certainly enjoy their rights to proclaim such exclusionary messages.

Your points are valid. But don't let a little historical "adjustment" get in the way of you celebrating the holiday as you see fit ;)

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CuddleFish Dec. 11, 2009 @ 6:21 p.m.

The bilboard is technically correct, in a narrow literal sense: Since Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, then it is the only reason for the season. In other words, we aren't celebrating the birth of Mohammed, for example. And had Jesus not been born there would be no Christmas season.

But I do agree that Christians who insist on that interpretation miss the meaning of Christ's life and teachings.

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lilo Dec. 11, 2009 @ 7:20 p.m.

I am very sorry you are offended. As a Christian I find the season beautiful when you know Him. I agree that Christ was born in the spring, but the holiday lights lift our spirits so much I am glad it is celebrated at the darkest time of the year (northern hemisphere!). I used to live in San Diego as a child but now I am at the opposite end of the west coast near the Canadian border. It is very dark here these days and I miss the Christmas celebrations later on in January, February and March. I wish you all the beauty of the season!

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cloud9driver Dec. 11, 2009 @ 9:45 p.m.

So far, every response to my observation has apparantly missed the mark. I am totally for honoring the birth of Jesus and his message. However, the sign, in my opinion, in one word, "ONLY" eradicates the message that Jesus brought with his birth, and also marginalizes others. Inclusion was the message. I do not care if you are Pagan, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or one of a hundred different types of Christian. Jesus welcomed the beggar. The leper. The prostitute. The thief. The Pharisee. The Samaritan. He said to love your neighbor. To honor your mother and father. All things that we should be doing everyday of the year. To quote God (as George Burns): Jesus was my son. Buddha was my son. Mohammed, Moses, you, the man who said there was no room at the inn, was my son. The divine truth is not in a building or a book or a story. The heart is the temple wherein all truth resides. The billboard misconstrues the real meaning of Christmas and that is what I am commenting about. Look to your own souls, not mine.

Before you read or comment further, I would like to recommend a really meaningful book. "Finding Your Religion" by Rev. Scotty McLennan. He writes on the spiritual mountain that we are all climbing. The mountain of many paths. Some rocky. Some smooth. Yet we are all climbing the same mountain, and ultimately, all converge at the very top, as sages of all religions have told us from the very beginning. Doesn't matter if you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Bahais, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. See you at the top.

Just a further history lesson, Many "Christmas" traditions began hundreds of years before Christ was born. The Puritans (and others), forbade their members from celebrating Christmas because it was considered a pagan holiday.

The Christmas tree is derived from several solstice traditions. The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and placed candles in live trees. In Scandinavia, they hung apples from evergreen trees.

The practice of exchanging gifts at a winter celebration is also pre-Christian and is from the Roman Saturnalia.

Mistletoe, and kissing under it is from an ancient Druid custom at the winter solstice.

The Scandinavian solstice traditions of Yuletide celebrated the return of the sun. One of their traditions was the Yule log. It was supposed to burn for twelve days. From this comes the twelve days of Christmas.

So, if you are celebrating any of the western traditions of Christmas this year, remember that you are actually enjoying the rituals and activities of several ancient religions whose traditions have been "borrowed" or supplanted, by the Christians over the years for the celebration of the birth of Christ.

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cloud9driver Dec. 11, 2009 @ 10:09 p.m.

P.S. Just to point out, it was common a few years ago to present this message as "Jesus is the reason for the season" as a gentle reminder during the conspicuous consumption and gift frenzy that there was and is a Christian religious underpinning to the Christmas Day celebration. Not season. Not ONLY. The season belongs to others, and do not presume to tell me otherwise (remember, Hanukkah started tonight). Also, some Eastern Churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

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David Dodd Dec. 11, 2009 @ 10:25 p.m.

cloud9driver,

When did Santa Claus hijack this holiday? There isn't a religion that claims him, save, perhaps, Madison Avenue. Yet, I don't feel a need to take an axe to that old man with a big giant white beard. That axe you're grinding might be meant for a misplaced target. After all, the tricky thing about Christianity is that proof is not requisite in such matters.

If Christianity hijacked this holiday, then it hijacked this holiday. If that fact is true, then it doesn't negate the holiday. Is Saturday really the sabbath? Is Sunday? Is Tuesday? Does it really matter?

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SDaniels Dec. 12, 2009 @ 3:15 a.m.

re: #1: "While the billboard seems offensive to non-Christians, the message is not inaccurate as relating to Christian beliefs. All religions are exclusionary by their nature. And all religions (and non-religions) certainly enjoy their rights to proclaim such exclusionary messages."

Gringo, it doesn't seem that cloud9driver's point is neither negating anyone's right to free speech, nor has it really anything to do with free speech. S/he is protesting the exclusionary nature of a billboard message, the rhetoric of which seems to invalidate anyone's non-Christian experience of the season.

Its arrogant sponsors appear to forget that there are other reasons people celebrate at this time of year, including two other common religions sharing these calendar dates. S/he also makes the good point that for most, this season is about generosity and general goodwill toward all. The billboard contradicts this message of inclusion.

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David Dodd Dec. 12, 2009 @ 3:34 a.m.

I never negated the validation of the author's premise, SD. I simply wish for the author to enjoy this holiday regardless of billboard messages. Like I do, ignoring all advertising ;)

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MorgansDead Dec. 12, 2009 @ 7:39 a.m.

Cloud9driver I know exactly what your getting at. I have to explain numerous times a day to various people that Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated in winter. Winter is a season, a holiday is not a season. I actually offend people in telling them that other faiths besides Christianity celebrate a holiday at this time of year. Mind you I live in the Bible Belt, so trying to convince people to be sensitive to other faiths is a losing battle it seems at times. I do try and that's what matters. I personally celebrate both Christmas and Yule.

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SDaniels Dec. 12, 2009 @ 7:53 a.m.

I hope Yule have a Merry Christmas, MorgansDead!

Sorry, couldn't resist. Thanks for keepin' the faith and teaching openmindedness in the thick of the Belt ;)

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MsGrant Dec. 12, 2009 @ 8:37 a.m.

"Jesus is the ONLY reason for the season" strikes me as exclusionist reasoning as well. Really, what they are trying to say is that Christians are the reason for the season, and all you other heathens can just crawl away to your dens of iniquity. Subtle as a sledgehammer. I will be celebrating Hanukkah with my husband's family today. He has a big family and we always have a great time. On Christmas we all go to the movies and out to dinner, Jews and Christians and otherwise alike, because his family respects that everyone is different but all the same and wants everyone to celebrate their version of what the holidays mean to them. And we don't say to anyone "you can't come".

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cloud9driver Dec. 12, 2009 @ 9:12 a.m.

Thank you SDaniels, Morgan's Dead, & MsGrant for the most recent posts. I climbed up on my soapbox over the word "ONLY". At least there is hope for good healthy debates on this forum, without getting ugly. And I do respect the other responses, but understand that I was not "attacking" anyones belief, and I do not need saving, thank you. Just recognizing that in a world of 6 Billion, there has to be room in the Inn for all of them.

P.S. Refried: The Billboard is in my face, and kind of hard to miss, as I walk back and forth from my apartment to Trader Joe's. It begged to be discussed.

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antigeekess Dec. 12, 2009 @ 3:33 p.m.

Starting with #2: "Actually, the reason that God sent his son, according to most versions of the bible, was to offer redemption to humanity through receiving the Christ as the savior."

As I understand it, that interpretation is only about 150 years old, and originated here in America. And no, I'm not going to take time to re-research it. :)

"While the billboard seems offensive to non-Christians, the message is not inaccurate as relating to Christian beliefs. All religions are exclusionary by their nature."

Nope. Christians and Muslims are bad about that. Missionary "work" and conversion of others is part of their shtick. You couldn't even say it about Jews -- the other "Western" religion, and certainly not about the eastern ones, especially Taoism.

Unitarian Universalists (origin: America) and the Bahai (origin: Tehran) would be examples of thriving religions in America that are absolutely universally inclusive.

As for the billboard? Yes, it's stupid. Not only was Christ -- if he was indeed a historical figure -- most likely born in the summer, based on what the Bible says. It also appears that the Christians co-opted a major pagan holiday in December and stamped "Jesus" all over it, assigning him a birthdate of December 25, when the Romans just so happened to celebrate the Winter Solstice. (Nothing pagan about celebrating Winter Solstice at all.)

So really, it should read:

"MITHRAS is the reason for the season." Or Winter Solstice. Or something.

Anything but Jesus.

:)

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CuddleFish Dec. 12, 2009 @ 3:45 p.m.

AG, that was #1 you responded to, not #2, which was mine. :)

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David Dodd Dec. 12, 2009 @ 4:41 p.m.

"As I understand it, that interpretation is only about 150 years old, and originated here in America. And no, I'm not going to take time to re-research it. :)"

It would probably be rude of me to quote scripture, so I'll refrain, but if we use the King James version (seems to be the most popular) it's all over the place. For example, the easiest and possibly most defining occurrence was when John baptized Jesus. After his baptism, Christ told the onlookers that since he had been baptized by water, so should they now be baptized by his spirit. I don't think that originated in America, and if that statement doesn't promise salvation then I don't understand what you're driving at.

(Interesting side note: Jesus' words after his baptism are only spoken in one of the five books containing the testimonies of the apostles. AND... in The Jerusalem Bible, which is a direct translation from the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic directly into French, it is omitted entirely, with no explanation. Suspiciously, we might assume that some scripture has been manipulated, when the scrolls were translated into Latin.)

"You couldn't even say it about Jews -- the other "Western" religion, and certainly not about the eastern ones, especially Taoism."

Taoism and Buddhism are exceptions, I agree. But Judaism is very exclusive, more so than Christianity. You are not a Jew except by blood, it doesn't get any more exclusive than that.

And for all concerned, especially the author, I'm certainly not preaching Christianity or any other religion. I'm also not defending the billboard. I am, I reckon, defending Christmas, even though it is among a number of pagan holidays hijacked by religion. If, for example, 1500 years ago the holiday was hijacked by a bunch of people who believed that a blue and pink lizard was born on that day and would lead humanity to salvation, then I would be forced to argue that as a matter of fact, "Merry Lizardmas" would be a perfectly acceptable and most appropriate greeting in late December.

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SDaniels Dec. 13, 2009 @ 2:37 a.m.

I still don't get it, refried. You are defending a populist idea of "Christmas." Fine, but why to the exclusion of other commonly celebrated holidays during the same season? Where you live, "Feliz Navidad" is the most appropriate greeting, but where I live and have lived, "Happy Holidays" is sure to cover all.

Forcing "Merry Christmas" on everyone alike doesn't do anything to "defend" or preserve Christmas--that's up to individual families, and there are plenty of them--to do by celebrating it (and by supporting the economy--let's not forget the REAL reason for the season). If I said "Merry Christmas" to people in my comparative literature department at school in NYC, more than a few eyebrows would have been raised, as just about every major religion and background is represented within one group of people. It isn't as diverse here, but it is diverse enough that it is appropriate to accommodate everyone you can. So--depending on where you live, it can be arrogant, presumptuous, and just plain ignorant to force one's particular holiday greeting on everyone else, knowing many many people celebrate Hanukkah, not Christmas.

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David Dodd Dec. 13, 2009 @ 3:48 a.m.

It isn't all that, SD, I'm not forcing my beliefs on anyone. My point is that sterilization of a holiday serves no one's best interest. If you were to wish me a happy Hanukkah, I would smile and wish you one back. I'm not Jewish, in spite of how my mother chose to name me. I can't imagine a Christian offended by such a greeting any more than I can imagine a Jew offended by someone wishing them a Merry Christmas.

Should we dumb it down to the point where the greeting is, "Merry Christmas, no offense?" Or perhaps, "Happy Hanukkah, no offense?"

My notion isn't out of arrogance, I don't know any more than anyone else. I have no idea what's going on, I'm the first to admit it. I only know that when I celebrate Christmas, I enjoy linking that celebration to some guy who - whether fictional or real - seemed to have a lot of good ideas on how people should treat each other. I invite people into my home that have no family close by, or perhaps none at all. And we eat and laugh and enjoy each other for at least one day in the year.

If we should fear offending someone to the point where we can't celebrate Christmas in the spirit that we enjoy it, then why bother? I don't want to rename the holiday, I want to celebrate it, regardless of the hijacking and regardless of other beliefs. It is the one day in the entire year that we have an opportunity to transcend our differences. Allowing the audacity of some billboard message to screw that up is no more unforgivable than biting one's tongue with a seasonal greeting based on possibly offending someone.

Merry Christmas. It's okay to say it. Happy Hanukkah, too. We have a choice to not be offended. I choose to not be offended.

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SDaniels Dec. 14, 2009 @ 7:35 p.m.

The fact remains that many people get very tired of being told "Merry Xmas" when they and their families have always celebrated a different event, such as Hanukkah. I still don't understand how "Happy Holidays" implies a sterilization of any religious or holiday event, especially as it functions to include, rather than exclude everyone's beliefs and practices.

Can you see how your argument about choosing to be offended could--and does--go the other way, too, gringo? You choose to be offended by "Happy Holidays," via a perception of the sterilization of your holiday, while many others are offended by the exclusion or lack of recognition of their practices when they must hear only "Merry Xmas." "Happy Holidays" does not exclude your event, it merely recognizes and celebrates all events and practices of the season.

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PistolPete Dec. 14, 2009 @ 9:17 p.m.

I think I'll start telling everyone,"I murdered Santa AND Jesus!!! How ya like me now, motherf***ers?" LMAO!

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David Dodd Dec. 14, 2009 @ 9:23 p.m.

I'm not at all offended by someone wishing me "Happy Holidays", if this greeting is what they desire to say rather than feel forced to say for fear of offending me. I'm not offended by the sterilization of the holiday, it simply doesn't seem rational to change the name of it when the vast majority of people call it Christmas. Your point about "Feliz Navidad" is a perfect example.

"Feliz" is obviously "happy". But "Navidad" gets its roots from "natividad" (nativity) and/or "nacimiento" (birthplace), in terms obviously referring to the birth of the Christ. There is no other way to say "Merry Christmas" in Spanish. Keeping in mind that there are plenty of athiests here, and a surprising number of practicing Jews here as well, no one bats an eye.

I think it would be fantastic to read advertising - anything except Happy Holidays simply because the stores don't want to offend - with many different greetings from various religions and beliefs, sort of scattered randomly. In other words, rather than to embrace a bland expression meant only to not offend, why not embrace all of the meanings as they pertain to different ways of celebrating? It seems, to me anyway, a more honest and potentially enlightening way of doing things.

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antigeekess Dec. 15, 2009 @ 9:41 a.m.

"I think it would be fantastic to read advertising - anything except Happy Holidays simply because the stores don't want to offend - with many different greetings from various religions and beliefs, sort of scattered randomly. In other words, rather than to embrace a bland expression meant only to not offend, why not embrace all of the meanings as they pertain to different ways of celebrating? It seems, to me anyway, a more honest and potentially enlightening way of doing things."

Yup. I like it. "Happy Holidays" seems to me to be reflective of the old "melting pot" idea, in which everybody denies their individuality in order to fit some clonish idea of what it means to be "American." Basically, it's akin to the same type of assimilation process that was forced on Native Americans.

The suggestion above, however, reflects the "salad bowl" metaphor, in which each ingredient retains its individual character. Interesting, educational, respectful and empowering.

That said, I still DON'T like the materialistic, consumer-driven BS that "Christmas" has become in the U.S.

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