"The War on Christmas - when did that start?" Begins Helen Zaltzman, host of The Allusionist. "Upon the birth of Jesus Christ himself, when King Herod ordered all the baby boys in and around Bethlehem be killed? In 1644, when Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans passed an ordinance prohibiting Christmas celebrations? In 1659, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans managed to get Christmas banned for 22 years for being a pagan festival?"
No, according to a lot of people in the UK, the war on Christmas began when the city of Birmingham, England, renamed Christmas "Winterval." This was an atrocity! This was political correctness gone mad! They'd rebranded the day from one in which we celebrate the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all so as not to offend those insidious Muslims.
"And verily," says Zaltzmn, "...Christmas was banished. Now we sing Winterval carols and wear ironic Winterval sweaters; we hang up our Winterval stockings for Father Winterval to fill with Winterval gifts..."
Thing is, actually, Birmingham never tried to rename Christmas. The city council came up with the name Winterval to refer to the 41-day long festival of events beginning a few weeks before Christmas and ending a few weeks after. Christmas was still Christmas; Winterval was just a cutesy marketing term for a bunch of different celebrations only some of which were Christmas related.
So if this whole story about how the Brits stole Christmas is provably false, and if the last Winterval was 20 years ago, why do people still rant and rave about this as if it's the Christmapocolypse? Helen Zaltzman thinks maybe people just want to feel like underdogs, want to feel like heroes for leaping to the defense of a holiday. I wonder if it's something more than that.
Today I ventured out for some Christmas errands. I slogged through this horrendous precipitation situation that I literally can't even think of a word for - it was kind of like it snowed, and then a slushy machine exploded, and then it all froze, making everything like, deadly slippery and wet and friggin miserable. I'm getting over being sick, so I'm exhausted, I'm going through that whole drama of working up a sweat in the store only to have all the sweat turn to ice as soon as I walk out of the place, it's crowded, it's loud, it's overwhelming. Then I get home to a house that looks like it's been trashed by a hoard of Christmas elves turned vandals and find a cat calmly eating my damn wrapping paper, and I was about ready to snap that obnoxious little bastard's tiny neck.
That's the thing about Christmas. It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but at the same time, it's kind of like a month long panic attack. Stores, gifts, cards, food, parties, family: it's all one big stress fest. We know we're supposed to be happy and full of the Christmas spirit, but we're constantly one string of Christmas lights away from snapping. So we take it out on the heathen behind the counter at Target who dares blaspheme against Christmas by wishing us a happy holiday. We rant online over stupid shit like black Santas and season's greetings. How dare people not appreciate the holiday that I baked 9 pies to celebrate? How dare you cheapen my orgy of materialism with your Hanukkah and your Divali and your Winterval. This is the most wonderful time of the year, goddamnit, and if you don't celebrate it exactly the same as I do, I will effing cut you, lady at Taco Bell who just told me Feliz Navidad.
Guys, this Christmas, practice some self care. Hustle and bustle but get a massage and take a bubble bath too. Your kid will survive the Hatchimals shortage, and nobody cares if your pie crusts are store-bought. Say happy Christmas or joyous Winterval or io Saturnalia or nanu nanu or blathering blatherskeit or don't say anything at all. But don't be a dick, man. It's the most wonderful time of the year, after all.
Oh and dude? Seriously quit with this whole "Christmas is only for Christians" nonsense. Just about every Christmas tradition you know and love predates Christ. We got Christmas trees from the Chinese, Egyptians, and Romans (in fact, the bible specifically forbids having a tree indoors), wreathes from the Etruscans, mistletoe and holly from the Druids. If anything, most of what we call Christmas belongs to the pagans. They're happy to let you borrow it, but don't Bogart it, it's bad form.