What happened to the ‘War on Christmas’?

Here we are, less than two weeks away from December 25th, and as far as I am aware there has been no recurrence of rage around the annual non-issue known as the ‘War on Christmas’ where right wing politicians and Fox News go on and on about how people are no longer able to say “Merry Christmas” or have any other symbol of the season without being harassed and otherwise being discriminated against. Donald Trump promised that when he became president, he would bring Christmas back and people would be able to say Merry Christmas again.

This was one of the most bogus culture war issues ever but that did not stop it from gaining traction among certain sections of the population. Of course, since people could always put up decorated trees, sing carols, have Santas, and say “Merry Christmas” if they wanted to, it is one of those ‘wars’ where they can declare victory at any time and move on to other culture war issues.

This article discusses how the War on Christmas’ has a long history going back to the 1920s (and even earlier to the Puritans) and was going strong even last year.

The precise term “War on Christmas” appears to have been coined in 1999 by Peter Brimelow, a hardcore white nationalist opposed to all immigration to America (despite having immigrated from Britain). You know the type—according to people like Brimelow, if you let a few too many of those nefarious Portuguese in we’ll suddenly be awash in warring drug gangs of pregnant teens. For years, he highlighted the biggest “offenders” on his website, lambasting Amazon in 2000 for welcoming visitors to their website with “Happy Holidays.” 

But Brimelow was too much of an extremist, at least by 1999 standards, to be a major pundit. And so credit for the phrase’s obnoxious arrival in the mainstream can be given to Fox News. It began when one of their hosts, John Gibson, released The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought in 2005. Maybe he meant “worse” in the incompetent sense, because you think liberals really would have gotten around to it by now otherwise. 

It’s all the usual crap. Gibson claims that “literally any sign of Christmas in public” leads to lawsuits and protests, which must be why there are always angry crowds booing mall Santas. It’s “Back in my day, schools called it Christmas break instead of winter break!” stretched over 200 poorly written pages. Even a reviewer who agreed with Gibson’s premise called it “A somewhat tedious read” and, tellingly, none of his supposed examples of outrageous political correctness run rampant is backed with sources.

Anyway, to get you into the proper holiday spirit, here is a video of cats singing Silent Night.


  1. JM says

    Since the Christians gave up fighting about Christmas with other Christians there hasn’t been a real issue. It’s just something that can be used as news filler this time of year. Too many real things are happening this year so no War on Christmas. Better ratings for reviewing what happened in Ukraine in the past 24 hours.
    If things settle down it will pop back up. It’s one of those news stories that are actually a good sign. If the news doesn’t have anything better to report on then things are going well.

  2. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I always say, “If you want me to keep the Christ in Christmas, you better be prepared to keep the Turd in SaTurday.”

    Yes, I am immature. 😀

  3. Tethys says

    Yule is far older than the syncretic holiday we call Christmas.

    It involves evergreens, fire, feasting, and gifts, though the slaughtering of pigs and heavy ale consumption have become less emphasized.

    The only part of Xtian celebrations I enjoyed would be singing carols at Midnight Candlelight service on Xmas Eve. No preaching, just great acoustics and singing some beautiful songs.

  4. lochaber says

    when I was a kid in the 80s, I thought people said “happy holidays” because we were out of school for both Christmas and New Year’s. Once I got a bit older, I realized there were other holidays, primarily Hanukkah and Kwanzaa around that time of year. (I lived in a really homogenous area, so I think I mostly gained awareness of the existence of these other holidays through comic books…).

    And, it just struck me as general good-natured and polite. You know, like practicing “the spirit of Christmas” and just, not being an asshole for no good reason.

    The lengths some people will go to, to go out of their way to get offended, is just ridiculous…

  5. Matt G says

    The War on Christmas is yet another way that Christian nationalists mark their territory, since urine isn’t socially acceptable.

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