Downplay the ‘Christmas controversy,’ recognize all holiday traditions instead

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again.

Media outlets begin to flood our ears with that unavoidable holiday tone, and decorations appear before our eyes at an ever-faster pace.

The holiday season’s greetings seem to hit us earlier every year, as does all of the controversy that comes with it.

With so many holidays approaching, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the yearly Christmas debate.

With our Western society being predominantly of Christian faith, Christmas is without a doubt recognized more than other December holidays.

In fact, Christmas Day is the only federal holiday this month.

This is part of the “tradition.” The political ideology known as the separation of church and state even makes an exception for Dec. 25, during which most businesses will close and schools are dismissed.

However, with changing times and growth of diversity, there are many beliefs to be taken into consideration and to be respected and observed in an equal and unbiased manner.

This everlasting controversy is just that — everlasting.

Christians may argue that Christmas is not recognized enough and feel that their beliefs and religious values are disappearing when greeting cards transform from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.”

On the other hand, those who practice other holiday festivities, or none at all, can become equally offended that the Christmas spirit is displayed a bit too heavily by the government, businesses and advertising campaigns.

The idea that Christians have about Christmas is a representation of their belief in Christ, which is respectable. However, I can see how forcing Christmas in our society can become problematic for those who do not participate in this religious practice.

Hanukkah begins at sundown on Dec. 4, the Muslim holiday Eid’ul-Adha is on Dec. 20, and Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 until New Year’s Day. We rarely witness commercials on television about such events or see school systems closing for them, but they do exist and are of equal importance as Christmas.

One must recognize — though not necessarily practice, enforce or promote — less popular holidays. This is where the issue of controversy and thoughts of “dying tradition” are brought to attention.

From a secular point of view, the government has no right to advocate religion, but it does seem to happen anyway.

The only solution I can see for the “Christmas controversy” is to promote representation and respect for the many diverse beliefs that exist. Certainly this would not take away the Christmas tradition, but it would keep other traditions alive as well.

The best take on the situation may lie in that Christmas is also part of our collective culture.

Some individuals may not even be of strong faith, yet they still decorate Christmas trees, speak of Santa Claus to children and buy presents for their loved ones. None of the aforementioned “Christmas” characteristics show a direct belief for Christ but rather are forms of culture.

Will the holiday controversy ever end? Probably not. But instead of focusing on whether Christmas is receiving too much attention year after year, it would be ideal to keep all the various traditions alive. In the present day, the recognition of every tradition is not only a matter of respect — it is necessary.

Kristen Roebker is an anthropology junior. E-mail [email protected]