Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas trees in public square

Last week, I posted an entry about Christmas music. The premise of the entry was to identify which Christmas songs should only be recorded by a single artist. My example was Burl Ives and Holly Jolly Christmas. Any other recording just isn't up to par. I had a few comments with other suggestions, you're welcome to go back and add your ideas here.

Later in the week, I was listening to some Christmas music and heard a song by Barry Manilow. Now, as much as it embarrasses me to admit this, I like Barry Manilow. But the thought hit me that he's Jewish. Why would a Jewish man sing songs celebrating the birth of the Messiah? The birth of the Christ child?

So I decided to do a little investigation. What other Jewish people sing Christmas songs? Well, the Internet is our friend, I found out I wasn't the first to ask this question (alas, there's nothing new under the sun). I found that Neil Diamond (who sings "Sweet Caroline") is Jewish as well as Barbra Streisand and both have Christmas albums.

Turns out there are a lot of Christmas songs written by those who are Jewish including "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire", "Holly Jolly Christmas" (which I mentioned earlier) and "White Christmas" (reference).

I certainly have nothing against these people singing Christmas songs. In fact, a little more research told me that Ed Asner, who is a frequent speaker at ACLU meetings has played Santa Claus in the 2003 movie Elf (and if memory serves me right, also in the old Mary Tyler Moore series).

So with Christians, Jews and atheists alike, all celebrating & singing about Christmas, it appears that the holiday is no longer a Christian holiday. With that information, why do we prohibit Christmas trees in the public square? Why do we (in government) shy away from calling it a Christmas tree or the Christmas holiday?

So let's put up Christmas trees in the public square. After all, if it isn't a Christian holiday, the government shouldn't have any problems, right?


Thomas said...

I'm surprised by how easily most Christians accept the tree as a symbol of Christ's celebration since it would seem to have pagan roots (no pun intended).

Randy said...

Actually, that's a good pun.

I've heard the story and since forgotten of how Christmas took over the pagan holiday. You're correct to point out that the holiday was chosen to coincide with the pagan holiday surrounding the winter solstice. I guess the Christians in that day wanted a reason to celebrate, much like many of today's non-Christians have chosen to celebrate (hence my post) regardless of their belief.

But Christians have managed to Christianize the holiday in many ways, taking parts of the Bible story and injecting it into the Christmas story.

More important than the date of His birth though is the fact that He was born and walked this earth just as you & I. Hebrews tells us we have a High Priest who was tempted in everyway, just as we were.

And the most important part was His death. More important than His birth is the fact that He chose to pay the fine for our sins. He died and rose again on the third day, just as the prophets had predicted (duh!, they had strong hints from God himself).

Christmas is an important holiday, not because of the date it falls on, but because it reminds us of our Savior.

Besides, it's mighty convenient that it's Dec 25, I have that day off>

"The Edge" said...

One thing that is interesting is that even if you're not a Christian, you surely don't mind the sales in practically every store. I mean, who's giving back the money, right? Is there technically anything illegal about discrimination based on what holiday you choose to observe? But of course, the opponents of this will argue Christmas is a Christian holiday. Which then is discrimination on religious grounds.... so you see, there is a double standard by some folks.

Personally, I think it would benefit us all to learn about the origins of the holiday in the first place. The common thread seemed to be that it was centered around the winter solstice holiday. I tend to think the druids had some over-arching influence as they already worship trees. And what is it we are decorating - a tree, right?

Now, I've also heard the comparisons between the Christmas tree and the cross, but they seem to be stretched a little.

Without going too far astray, I personally have no issues with the menorah/Christmas tree side by side. I'm all for the traditional holidays. And Judaeo-Christian principles are what the United States was founded on (though we have strayed....) However, I'm not personally a fan of what I will term "made up" holidays, just so other cultures don't feel left out. I won't mention those holidays by name, although most of you can guess what they are. I guess, I just want some traditions going back more than 50 or 100 years when I celebrate (save my birthday of course).

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and I hope you all have a prosperous and fun-filled 2010.

Randy said...

Thanks Edge, Merry Christmas to your family too! (and Happy Hanukkah while we're at it)