Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't Hate on Christmas

Here's my letter to the editor, which appeared in the December 10, 2011 Santa Monica Daily Press:


Mr. Jorg Aadahl ("Different take on Christmas," Letters to the Editor, Dec. 5) is apparently offended that Christmas doesn't have a "neutral name." He prefers that we say Yuletide because it is "all inclusive, for everyone."

But no holiday is "all inclusive." Not everyone chooses to celebrate Chanukah, Halloween, Thanksgiving — or even Yuletide. Nor is there any reason that 100 percent compliance should be a requirement. If one were offended because someone wished them a "Happy Chanukah" or "Happy Thanksgiving," that person would be regarded as a bigot, or just plain weird.

Christmas alone is deemed offensive because not everyone celebrates it. You needn't belong to a religion or ethnicity to appreciate its culture.

Non-Chinese people visit Chinatowns all over the U.S. to enjoy Chinese New Year parades. Non-Latinos visit Olvera Street for Cinco de Mayo and Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. People of many religions visit Native American reservations to admire their religious dances.

Likewise, there's no reason that non-Christians can't look at (and even enjoy) a Christmas lights display. It's not a forced conversion.

Mr. Aadahl also tries to invalidate Christmas for its pagan roots. But many holiday customs are rooted in archaic or discarded practices. Trick-or-treating is no longer about bribing dead spirits to leave us be. Yet that does not invalidate Halloween's modern celebrations.

Thus does Mr. Aadahl criticize Christmas both for being too Christian ("non-inclusive") and not Christian enough ("pagan roots"). He should learn to appreciate that ours is a diverse society, and that Christmas — and Christianity — are significant parts of that diversity.

-- Thomas M. Sipos, Santa Monica, CA