Enjoy the holiday in whatever way suits your taste
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Enjoy the holiday in whatever way suits your taste

The secularization of Christmas typically arises in discussions about how commercialized the holiday has become.
Christmas, many of us exclaim, is now more about Santa Claus than it is Jesus Christ. Some of us bemoan the tendency to take the “Christ” out of Christmas.
However, it’s mostly Christians, even those nominally so, who’ve managed to make Christmas what it is today.
Facets of the holiday we embrace as traditions have little or nothing to do with religion. Holly, mistletoe, and Christmas trees are all pagan symbols from winter religious festivals that were likely appropriated by Christianity in order to make conversion easier. Even the date, Dec. 25, has more to do with the solstice and age-old longest-night festivals than it does with the actual birth date of Christ, which biblical scholars place at various times of the year.
The date may have been adopted as a Christian substitute to the Roman festival Saturnalia in the third century. Saturnalia was celebrated as the Feast of Sun and was actually considered the birth date of the Sun God of the Romans.
While Santa Claus is partially a Christian figure – Saint Nicholas – he incorporates significant pagan and secular elements. Gift-giving, traditional Christmas foods, and many other elements also have nothing to do with Christianity.
Historically, Christmas was the centerpiece in a range of religious observances that stretched from the fall (Michaelmas) through to early February (Candlemas). Most have fallen by the wayside. Candlemas (the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Feb. 2), for instance, has been “replaced” by Groundhog Day. Where we once celebrated the 12 days of Christmas, carrying right through to the Epiphany, the holy-days are done once Boxing Day frenzy kicks in.
In that light, the tree in your living room, the wreath on your door and the cards in your mailbox are all secular in origin.
Even the popular sentiment of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men is not exclusive to Christmas or even the religion itself. The same is true of the most warming aspect of the holiday: time spent with family and friends in the spirit of fellowship.
None of which takes away from Christmas. Nor should these facts bolster the cause of those who, for reasons of political correctness or misguided multiculturalism, would try to downplay the yuletide season. Christmas has evolved over the years precisely to be inclusive, and remains so today. Whether you’re in it for the gifts, the goodwill or the piety, Christmas has you covered.
Those who complain about the Christ in Christmas are missing the point: it’s really an inclusive holiday, one that’s easily adapted to fit the individual.
Of course, Christmas has become highly commercialized – some of the symbols we use today were in fact created by marketers (the image of Santa Claus developed by Coca-Cola, or Rudolph the Montgomery Ward Reindeer) – almost to the point of overkill. But there has always been something – a feeling in the air perhaps – that made the season lift the spirits beyond anything the so-called greeting-card holidays could ever do for us. That feeling of warmth and goodwill, no matter your take on Christmas, is tangible.
Of all the holidays on the calendar, none compares to Christmas. It’s certainly no mere greeting card holiday; it comes with its own magic. Rather than fretting about what it’s become – a subjective take, at best – maybe we should just enjoy the season, observing it as we see fit and holding on to our own traditions.

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