Whatever happened to Christmas? Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Dec 9, 2007 at 12:10 am
Sure, Dec. 25 is just 18 days away. But except for a brief flash of "Merry Christmas" on Wheels Bus No. 12 that I saw Monday, the word "Christmas" seems to have metastasized into "Holiday," "Season's Greetings" or nothing at all. Last Saturday, the once fabled Pleasanton Christmas Parade was the Hometown Holiday Parade. Marching units celebrated "the holiday." Even the Pleasanton Weekly convertible carrying our President Gina Channel-Allen and me boasted a "Happy Holidays from the Pleasanton Weekly" sign. In the parade, only Santa shouted a boisterous "Merry Christmas to All" from his high perch on a fire truck, and that was at the end of the hour-long parade. Even the city's gaily-decorated and lighted tree outside the Museum On Main is no longer a Christmas tree, but it's become a less meaningful "holiday tree," whatever that is. At least that's a bit more festive than Dublin's, which calls theirs simply a "community tree." Perhaps Dubliners are afraid the word "holiday," just as some in Pleasanton view "Christmas," as a word that could offend non-believers.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 7, 2007, 12:00 AM
Posted by PCBennett, a resident of San Ramon, on Dec 9, 2007 at 12:10 am
If a store practices this insane PC, and will not say "merry CHRISTMAS" I will not purchase ANYTHING there. They want to make money for the holidays they refuse to even utter? What are we letting happen to this country we all grew up in? This is the CHRISTMAS season and always has been. Liberal leanings will not change it. This is a country of freedom for all and we can say MERRY CHRISTMAS whenever we want to.. To bad stores that want your money are so repressed and afraid. You have rights too, do not shop there. Merry Christmas to all of us who still remember what the season means and all the happy traditions that go along with it.
Posted by C Johnson, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2007 at 8:11 am
I must say if we were in another country we would have to follow (or at least understand) they celebrate a different way. I will not work for a company that diallows me to say "Merry Christmas" or speak of my love for the lord. If those people are offended I have one little sentence for them...GO Back To Where You Came From!!!!!!!
THIS IS AMERICA
Also, Christmas IS NOT ABOUT buying gifts. It's about the Celibration of Jesus! What the hell has happened to us? As a child I was happy to get a tangerine in my stocking and a new box of crayons and color book.
We must X out this shopping craze and get back to basics.
Posted by Christina, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2007 at 2:18 pm
I don't believe people are contacting store mangers in large numbers to cancel the word Christmas. This is something being done without consumer involvement. Seriously, has anyone heard of anyone who has contacted a store in Pleasanton to complain about the word Christmas?
I'm been complaining about Safeway cashiers using their spit to grasp my plastic bag for years, and nothing has changed with that.
I can't seem to find more than two Jewish people in this entire city.
There is not a large, vocal population here that is campaigning against the word 'Christmas'.
So, contact people in charge of such things, whoever they are, and ask them why they chose to remove the word. I'd be surprised if they said they had gotten a lot of calls complaining about the word 'Christmas.'
I'm from a Christian heritage, but I'm not religious. I find it strange how threatened people feel over this issue. If you celebrate Christmas, why do you need to see the word everywhere? It's in your heart, family and home. What difference does it make if it's on a Walgreens sales flyer?
Christians have obliterated many religions in African countries, (destroying the native cultures as well, which were inseparable from religion. For instance, religion would dictate your job, how you handled family and community conflicts, etc. So, when Christians put the pressure on and succeeded in wiping out the native religion, they destroyed an entire culture as well.) and elsewhere. They really like to dominate, and feel threatened when they seem to be losing control. Relax, Christmas is safe. It really is.
Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm
There is a very large Jewish population in this City. There's also a signifiant Muslim, Buddhist, not to mention agnostic and athiest population. That's because our town is almost 75,000 people and not all Christian either. I know that's a surprise to some of you.
I think people who insist that other people wish them a Merry Christmas need to go to church more to hear that. Stores are STORES. Not religious institutions. I just don't get why that's so hard to understand.
I can't imagine where C Johnson gets off insisting that the celebration of Christmas is some sort of "American" thing. It's a Christian thing. Just because you are of the majority, try not to impose your religious views on the rest of us. It's really not appreciated.
Hey guess what C Johnson - I was born here and I intend to stay here and you can take your religious views and voice them in your home and at CHURCH. How about this - you can go and live where everyone is just like you and wants to hear your religious opinions.
What's amazing to me is that all the people who get all bent out of shape that stores don't wish them a Merry Christmas are the same people who speak of their regret for the rampant commercialism of the season. Can't have it both ways.
As for Jeb Bing's column - the parade is supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive. Who cares if it's a holiday parade - if you can make more people feel included, that should be what it's all about.
Posted by PToWN94566, a member of the Walnut Grove Elementary School community, on Dec 9, 2007 at 8:09 pm
Sorry but you seem selfish to have to worry about the word "Christmas" not being used as much or it not being used in a parade. Wouldn't you think it's safer for a town/city to use the word holiday? What about all the kids that come to the parade but don't celebrate xmas? When I taugh preschool I had a bunch of kids that were jewish- any normal person knows its best to have a "Holiday Party" or "Holiday Parade" so everyone can be included, not just Christian or non-religious folk who celebrate xmas.
Posted by cosmic-charlie, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2007 at 8:00 am
We "got it" some 30 years ago, when the shopping started to become the most streeful part of the Christmas season. Our family agreed, "No Shopping for Gifts!". Instead, gathering for potluck on Christmas day became the new family Christmas tradition. Let me tell you, not having to put up with the increasing crowds, prices, and stress focused us on the real meaning of Christmas, and we have looked back! Try it, you'll like it...
Posted by Janna, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2007 at 8:15 am
I was walking through Raley's the other day and overhead something interesting. Two employees were talking about saying Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas and one said the reason is because the non-religious don't want to hear 'Merry Christmas'. I am non-religious and I say Merry Christmas and could care less about how it's said to me. Don't you remember the 'War on Christmas' last year? The concept was thrust into the public eye by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, etc. Now, why would political pundants even get involved? Well, it's another tool to divide people and make Christians feel even more persecuted than they think they already are. It's only to motivate the Christian republican base. It is not a PC thing.
Posted by C. Jacob, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2007 at 9:05 am
Shelly I think PC was just making the point of what the article was saying about stores and the word CHRISTMAS. I agree with C Johnson CHRISTMAS is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It seems like the direction to take out the word Christmas is from the headquarters of these big store chains. Then maybe the privately owned businesses follow that direction which is sad. I don't think that anyone should insist on people wishing you Merry Christmas. It should be a choice of an individual not that of a retail CEO dictating down to his employees. I think the big commercialism of Christmas has diluted what the true meaning of Christmas is about. This country was founded on freedom with the foundation of Christianity. These traditions have been enjoyed for a long time and it seems that not until the past decade or so is when these changes started. If someone wishes me happy Hanukkah I'm not offended at all. What's next? If you wish someone that doesn't celebrate anything with a Happy Holiday greeting or whatever, then will every greeting be banned? This issue can be argued from both sides with ease. Maybe the compromise should say Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays. For those who really want to feel what the spirit of Christmas is, find someone in need and give them something without anyone knowing about it. As far as Christinas comment, (not to excuse the past) Christians aren't perfect. At times they use bad judgement and make mistakes, and hopefully learn from that. The only one that's perfect is God. Merry Christmas!
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Dec 10, 2007 at 11:58 am
I think that cosmic-charlie makes the most sense! Except of course that I like to receive gifts. It's best to gather with loved oned and forget the stress of shopping and giving CEO's enormous bonuses.
Posted by Just a reader, a resident of another community, on Dec 10, 2007 at 1:14 pm
I for one will not stop saying Merry Christmas to my family and friends who celebrate this joyous holiday. I respect the fact that some people would rather hear "Happy Holidays" and that's fine. As for the ridiculous gift buying, how can you stop? It's everywhere and our kids are being pressured to keep up with the Jone's. Society these days just adds to that pressure. It needs to go back to basics. Like one reader mentioned, I was happy to get that one doll from Santa and to see that my cookies and milk were gone. That made my entire day!
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2007 at 1:22 pm
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Happy HOLY-days! Early winter is a time of celebration for many cultures and religious faiths. It marks the end of the growing season and the celebration of the year's harvest - this created the pagan festival of the Winter Solstice or Saturnalia. As Christianity was in its infancy and to find a way to enlighten the "heathens", the early Roman church established Dec 25 as the birth of Christ to coincide with the more popular pagan festivals - this in the hopes there would be a melding of beliefs and a few converts along the way to this new-found faith although theologians and science have pretty well concluded that Christ would actually have been born in the Spring. Hanukkah has been celebrated for centuries at this time of year and the Muslim faith has celebrations throughout the month for special "holidays/HOLY-days". Even the Buddhists mark the end of the year and the "Quieting of the Earth" with prayers and observance. It's not hard to find somewhere on the planet that does not mark this change of the season - our life cycle - in some form. So the manner in which we express our joy of the season - our celebration of renewal and rebirth - is not the issue. Say "Merry Christmas", "Happy Hanukkah", "Blessings Be" - whatever your personal convictions lead you to believe - just say it with love, kindness and respect to all your brothers and sisters who walk this planet at this moment in time.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2007 at 3:07 pm
Sandy wrote: "It marks the end of the growing season and the celebration of the year's harvest - this created the pagan festival of the Winter Solstice or Saturnalia."
The winter pagan holidays of Europe, especially the further north you went, were more about keeping Light/Sun alive through a dark season and celebrating its rebirth on the winter solstice. The birth of the Light or Sol Invictus (not Saturnalia) became the birth of Jesus when met by Christianity. Christmas interestingly is January 6th (hence the 12 days of Christmas) for followers of the Orthodox church, which still uses the old Julian calendar.
Check out the Wikipedia article on winter solstice celebrations throughout the world: Web Link
It is true that a lot of our modern day Christmas rituals originate from pagan traditions. The Christmas ham, the tree, the Yule log, mistletoe, etc. come mostly from Germanic pagan winter solstice traditions. Those rituals were so popular they got reinterpreted by Christianity. And why not? It helped to spread Christianity which united Europe and founded our modern Western culture.
Posted by Patrick, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2007 at 8:35 am
Ninety six percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, including many non-Christians such as atheists and agnostics. Christmas is the only federal holiday in December. It's ridiculous and almost communist to ban the mention of this holiday. It's against all common sense.
Posted by Homeowner, a resident of the Ironwood neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2007 at 9:40 am
I agree with the writer that suggested saying Happy Holidays or whatever works for you, just do it with love, kindness and respect!
Regarding the discussion of the origin of Christmas, I think we should focus more on the spirt of Christmas as one writer suggested, perhaps finding someone to help during the holiday season. That is is the spirit of Christmas, not the fairy tales of the birth of Jesus, God, or other bible "stories".
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2007 at 10:27 am
My biggest concern is within the Christian community itself.
When I hear my friends at church greet me with Happy Holidays----I want to puke. I was greeted last week by an 8 or 9 year old "sales associate" outside the grocery store. Happy Holidays, she said. Why not Merry Christmas, I said. She said--"We can't say that"---that broke my heart that a child would be caught up in this crap. Because our society is so paranoid about being PC about every conceivable potentially offensive word/action/nuance, we are watering down American traditions to the point you probably won't hear the word "America" someday----too touchy, maybe United States is safer (HR Bulletin 10457).
Posted by Janna, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2007 at 11:32 am
It is not a PC thing! It's so a bunch of people will get worked up about it and distracted from other, way more important things happening in our country. And look, it's working fabulously! As for another term for America, how about The Homeland? The Bush admin seems to like that term and use it frequently.
BTW, Christmas and America and are not synonymous. We are a melting pot. You should get use to the idea.
Posted by HappyJew, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2007 at 5:00 pm
The truth is that "Happy Holidays" = "Merry Christmas" because Christmas is really the only major religious holiday during this time of year. Contrary to popular belief, Channukah, while a nice holiday is not the most important Jewish holiday, nor is it the "Jewish Christmas". This year our Muslim neighbors will celebrate Eid al-Adha this month, but the Muslim holidays follow a lunar calendar and therefore move throughout the year. I watched as our Hindu neighbors celebrated Diwali back in October.
Madison Avenue came up with the idea of "holiday" wishes in the hopes that other religious cultures would feel included (or at least not excluded) and spend, spend, spend along with the Christians. The reality though, is that all the hoopla is about Christmas and it is very hard not to feel left out in the cold if this is not part of your cultural observance. I don't want to deny anyone their Merry Christmas but it's clear that some of the posters believe in tyranny of the majority (Patrick -- you don't seriously believe that 96% of America celebrates Christmas, do you? I'd believe 96% of America gets the day off but that doesn't mean that's by their choice. Many of us would gladly trade that for a guilt free day off on our sacred holidays.)
I suppose it would be too much to ask that instead of generic holiday wishes, we all took the time to educate ourselves about the many cultures that make up our bigger society and wish our neighbors the peace and blessings that come in their time and in their own celebrations.
Posted by A resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2007 at 8:31 pm
This was never an issue until somewhat recently. Bottom line, this is a tradition of our heritage, and our country. Leave it alone. If Merry Christmas bothers someone to bad. Enjoy it or not. It's seems like the people that have a problem with this this issue is a small group. Why should we change our traditions and forget our heritage to accommodate a small few not recognizing the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ? Even if his actual birthday maybe in January or when ever. This is when most people in the U.S. recognize it and that's that. Get over it. If it bothers you find a place that you can go and not have to worry about others offending you by saying Merry Christmas.
Posted by Janna, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2007 at 10:49 am
To A resident,
We should all think the way you do or get out of the country, eh? Or did you just want people to leave the city, state? How very tolerant and Christ-like of you to suggest it. How do these words affect your quality of life I'd really love to know? Is your belief in Christmas (whatever that is) so weak that it's threatened by someone wishing you Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? Get some perspective!
Posted by Janna, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2007 at 11:15 am
I agree with you Chris about peace and good tidings! The sentiment is the most important, not the words.
However, people these days don't want peace and joy. They want to be right at all costs.
People with obviously zero sense are the ones complaining about this ridiculousness. Meanwhile, people are dying and suffering all over the world from war, hunger, disease, torture and outright neglect. But let's get worked up about words. Nevermind all that death and destruction, look over here, we're offended by words!!! Pardon my sarcasm, but these people are playing right into this fabricated outrage and don't even know they're being played. Sad and unfortunately, predictable.
The irony here is almost unconceivable. Those offended (by Happy Holidays) are offended because they think people like me (as non-religious as you can get) are offended by Merry Christmas. Yeah, it's as stupid as it sounds.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2007 at 7:56 pm
And, the rest of you who have missed the point of my posting regarding the article being contested. Christmas Day has been part of the fabric of America, not even counting the rest of the world, for many hundreds of years.
If not, as I was trying to point out, we would not have the many songs written for this day. And, more are recorded every year. Any performer who has not recorded a Christmas album has to be either dead or in a coma.
December 25th equals Christmas Day and Christmas Day equals December 25th. Setting aside the fact that it is the most important holy day for Christians, it also has come to be the day of the year when people tend to be a little nicer to each other, donate gifts to those less fortunate and families gather together to bask in the warmth of each others' company.
Does this day lessen the importance of other religions' holy days? Of course not, but when I wish somebody a "Merry Chritmas", that person is a Christian celebrating the same holy day I am. If not, I would wish them a Happy "Hanukah", "Kwanza", "Ramadan", etc. For those that have no connection to any religion, I would wish them a very merry "Un-holiday".
So, I wish you all good health and happiness for the rest of this year and forever.
Posted by A resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2007 at 8:37 am
My perspective is that I'm tired of a of this small minority of people that have tried to make it politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas. As Joe said Christmas and it's traditions have been a part of the fabric of America. If you want to say it fine, if you don't that's your choice. I think that being forced to say it one way or the other is wrong. Also we should embrace the freedom that we do have to be able to say Merry Christmas. If you tried to openly celebrate this holiday in some middle east countries the result would most likely be death. So to any business owners that might read this let your employees say what the wish to customers. Dont be afraid to have signs in your stores that say Merry Christmas. To any city officalls, same to you. Don't follow the preasures of being what you might think of being P.C. You can't make everybody happy, but you can do the right thing and honnor our traditions, our herritage, and stand proud and say MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Posted by chris, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm
Oh and Charlie Brown would be grateful for Snoopy's toast and popcorn on the Christmas table, imagine toast and popcorn on Christmas Day, and grateful for it.......And what does Charlie say "peace on earth, goodwill towards men".....again, what a concept...
Posted by Sherri, a member of the Walnut Grove Elementary School community, on Dec 14, 2007 at 5:58 pm
Just out of curiosity, what holiday do you celebrate? Dec 25 not only equals a "Christmas Day" to Joe, but it also equals a "Christmas Day" to many other people. To make the comment that Joe is the only one that celebrates Christmas is "politicaly incorrect"...There are many people around the world that celebrate Christmas and have for many years..It seems very biased and narrow minded to make a comment that only one person celebrates Christmas. I feel that if you celebrate Christmas, then you should say Merry Christmas. What ever happen to freedom of speech..Isn't that part of living in this country. If you celebrate another holiday besides Christmas, then feel free to say Happy ... whatever holiday you do celebrate..Yes, I do, recognize there are other holidays that are celebrated during this time of month and I for one would not be offended if someone said Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza to me...If that is what the celebrate then good for them..I'll bet if stores had signs up saying Happy Hanukkah, no one would say a word, but if there were signs up saying Merry Christmas it would be on the 10 o'clock news, or may even be a special reoprt..All I can say is, if you don't celebrate Christmas and someone else does, don't be offende if they wish you a Merry Christmas..
Posted by A resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2007 at 6:13 pm
The problem here is with the attitude with people like Elizabeth. For you to say "December 25 equals Christmas Day to YOU. To everyone else, it's just December 25" is wrong. Are you the spokesperson for the rest of the population on the planet? I agree with Sherri with her comment on having stores with signs that say Merry Christmas. If the minority don't want to shop there than that's OK, but I'm sure the retail stores will do just fine.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2007 at 12:22 pm
Your numbers seem faulty. A percentage of those Christians could be Orthodox, which celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6th.
BTW, isn't Easter the most important Christian sacred holiday with Christmas being second to that?
Posted by Adele, a resident of the Canyon Oaks neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2007 at 2:31 pm
There is most definitely not a 'very large' Jewish population in this city. My kids celebrate Hanukah and have gone through Pleasanton public schools and they have always been the only ones celebrating Jewish holidays in their classes. They have explained the meaning of Jewish holidays to other students many times because the other kids had no idea what they were about.
Posted by Casey, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2007 at 3:10 pm
If you are a member of either Beth Emek or the Chabad community here in town, you know that there is a sizable Jewish population. It's not "the majority" and it doesn't mean that your child won't be the only Jewish child in his or her class. But there is a significant community here.
It is a little disturbing that other children don't know what Chanukah is; my kids are in the public schools and I've never encountered that. They all know about Chanukah, the menorah, how to play dreidel, etc... Now, that could be because I have gone into the classrooms every year to help expose them to that. That was certainly helpful to my children.
Posted by Matt, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2007 at 6:13 am
I get the feeling that many who are lamenting the "loss" of Christmas are really lamenting the "loss" of how things "used to be" but never "really were".
Things will never be again the way you saw them when you were a child.
The Christmas TV special, The department store Santa, and many of the icons that meant so much to so many are part of your generation. Many of the things you take for granted as having "always having been there" came into existence during your lifetimes.
Is it really that offensive that the organizations that co-opted Christmas in order to sell more product are now changing the message to appeal to the broader audience?
Last I checked, people in this country can pretty much say anything they want. If it offends you, it's really your problem.
Posted by A resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2007 at 8:20 am
Way to go Matt. You got it. We don't have to let these special visions and dreams disappear or let our traditions be changed. It's up to individuals that want to keep them around to speak up. My kids are excited about Christmas, but when asked what's the most important part of Christmas, they say Jesus's birthday. Not bad for six year old kids. Next they will go to the store and pick out some things that a family in the community needs, and donate those things to them, while teaching the importance of us being blessed, and sharing with a stranger in need that doesn't have much at all.
Posted by lori, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2007 at 10:46 am
Lets just get rid of the holidays altogether! If you say Merry Christmas....the jews are offended. But they can have their menorahs all over!!!!! They invite all our non jewish kids to their kids bar mitzvah....and try to out do the next jewish family...now thats a kind and loving religion. We see the words kwanza....but don't mention the word Christmas or else!!. My childs pre school even had to change Thanksgiving to the Harvest celebration! Wasn't our country founded by Christians???? and now these people want to take in god we trust off the money and get rid of the American Flag at our Schools....and what....fly the flag of Israel or maybe India. This is America and if you don't like it....go back to where you came from be it China, India, Mexico or Israel!!!!!
Posted by lori, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2007 at 11:23 am
Fountainhead in Dublin. Oh and they did celebrate Japanese doll day.....and I have a boy and he's NOT Japanese!!!!!! Go figure. Go look at our Universities too.....thats another topic altogether. If you are a white male.....good luck going to a decent University in California....unless of course you are a great athlete!
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Dec 18, 2007 at 4:23 pm
Did somebody say go back to where you came from? Incidentally, who pray tell are "these people"? What's it like to carry so much anger during the holidays lorly? Tee hee hee, tee hee hee! Get a good nights
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 22, 2007 at 9:43 am
Something that hasn't been discussed here yet...
I see Christmas as more than a religious holiday. It is also an American cultural holiday. Lots of American families who are not especially religious also celebrate Christmas (even some Jews). I think when people misunderstand this, they get offended.
It makes you wonder about Christmas celebrations around the world. Europeans tend to also be rather secular, yet they still celebrate Christmas too with much more elaborate holiday rituals than Americans.