This sincere-looking fellow is Dennis Prager. He's a Conservative author, syndicated columnist, and talk-show host who may be the world’s biggest fan of Christmas. He’s also a Jew who’s referred to himself as “a Yeshiva Boy who loves Christmas.” Every Christmas since 2010, he’s released columns and videos on his deep concern about the holiday’s imminent demise.
In this year’s video, “Just Say Merry Christmas!” he admonishes all Americans to wish all other Americans – regardless of creed or lack thereof – a Merry Christmas, dammit. (Our President-elect has done the same.) Prager’s familiar argument: “Happy Holidays” is a construct by “Secular Activists” (read: Godless Atheists) divert attention from the Baby Jesus. It's all part of “The War on Christmas,” he says, “but more precisely, a war on the religious nature of America.”
We’ve heard all this before, but Prager’s secret ingredient is his Jewishness. He tells us that “All the best Christmas songs were written by Jews.” So why would a Jew be so concerned about Jesus’ birthday? (Other than Jesus, of course.) Because Christmas, you see, isn't just about Jesus Christ. Christmas is about something MUCH bigger – AMERICA!
The “proponents of Happy Holidays,” Prager says, have a specific goal in mind: nothing less than the removal of Christmas from the list of Federal holidays!
DENNIS' PROOF OF VALIDITY
Prager calls people who say “Happy Holidays” “mean-spirited” and “misanthropic.” He explains that “a ‘Holiday’ party deprives Christians of the joy of being wished a Merry Christmas.” And – very disturbingly – his video closes with a man (an atheist man, I assume) knocking Santa Claus to the floor and kicking him in the ribs. (I missed that the first time I watched it. Lower right.)
Of course, if all this were coming from a Christian, you might think: “Oh, there goes the Christian Right again with their War on Christmas foolishness.” But because Prager is Jewish, you’re likely to think: “This man doesn't even believe in Christ. And yet even HE stands up for Christmas. I hadn't realized before how serious this situation was. Damn those Secular Activists!”
1. PEARLS, SWINE: Doesn't saying “Merry Christmas” smugly, to non-believers you suspect are going to hell anyway, sort of cheapen the whole idea…? This is the Incarnation of the Living Word, the Only Son of God, who will die for the sins of mankind ... and they're interpreting it as "Nyyah." I’m no longer a Christian, yet I find it offensive. In fact, I believe Christians have a perfect phrase for this.
2. MATERIALISM MAKES THE BABY JESUS CRY: Ive always felt uncomfortable when “Merry Christmas” is used to advertise stuff. I've never thought, "How lovely that the owners of this store are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ!" Instead I've thought, "How crass. These shoes were made by 6-year-old children in Bangladesh, working 20-hour shifts for 6 cents an hour. I wonder what Jesus would say about that.” I’m just not sure what unbridled Capitalism has to do with “a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
3. HISTORICAL NEGATIONISM: I’m extremely concerned about this large outbreak of Rip Van Winkle Syndrome among the Christian Right and the Republicans. Secularizing Christmas is a brand-new thing? I recall things very differently. Don’t you?
When I entered the world in the mid-1960s, Christmas in America was quite secular already. Percy Faith recorded the hit "Happy Holiday" right about that time. When I was growing up, I saw “Happy Holidays” on Christmas cards, in store window displays, and in blinking lights.
But the secularism didn't stop there. Like most kids, I grew up watching the annual Christmas TV specials. Other than Linus Van Pelt’s 42-second recitation of the Annunciation to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965), there is not a single reference to Jesus Christ in any of the specials from that era: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966), or “Frosty the Snowman” (1969).
Speaking of the screen, neither of the two biggest Christmas films from the Good Old Days – “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) – refer to the birth of the Savior at all.
“Seasons’ Greetings,” which is just another version of Happy Holidays,” was on the Christmas cards mailed out by the White House during the Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations. I've not found evidence of a public outcry.
You may know that God-hating atheists didn't invent “Xmas;” it’s been in common use by Christians since the mid-1500s, X being the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. But you might not know how SEXY Xmas used to be. Check out Diana Dors in 1948!
In fact, barely-clad Christmas pinup girls, titillating with tinsel and trees, were wildly popular in the 1960s – and go back all the way to the 1920s.
So you see, the conspiracy to destroy Christmas has been going on MUCH longer than you think. The earliest reference to “Happy Holidays” I've found was in a Philadelphia Inquirer advertisement for Splendid Photograph Albums. It ran on Dec. 5, 1863. (And the phrase was obviously in use before that. To give you a sense of how long ago 1863 was, it was the same year President Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation, which started the process of freeing the slaves.)
4. WAIT – PEOPLE BELIEVE THIS? Seriously – besides Bill O'Riley, The GOP (which introduced a resolution to protect the Christmas holiday in 2015), and FOX’s John Gibson (author of “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought”) – who believes this stuff? Well, every December, when Prager releases his commentary on social media, many thousands of people post their thoughts – most in agreement. Here are some examples from Facebook:
KATHY explains that "Happy Holidays" did not exist until Barack Obama took office. Right away, department store employees were forbidden to wish shoppers a “Merry Christmas.” This happened because “Obama brought his racism” into the White House.
LINDA believes anyone who does not celebrate Christmas should not get the day off work, and should not have parties nor give gifts. (She doesn't say we shouldn't GET gifts, though. Yay!)
RODNEY declares businesses that refer to Christmas will be sued. Any employee who speaks of it gets written up. And DON’T put up a banner: you can be attacked or even injured! I’d love to know where these folks live. Because I live in Madison, Wis. – one of the most secular cities in the United States – and Christmas is everywhere: on the radio, on yard signs, in store windows, and in greetings from waitresses, cashiers, cosmetologists, dentists, and dog groomers. It’s mystifying.
5. I'M FREAKING OUT! PROVE IT ISN'T TRUE! But IS anyone trying to wipe Christmas off the calendar? Well, I decided to search for ANY evidence ANYONE is trying to do this. ANY evidence at all. I found exactly two references:
A) A Fundamentalist Christian pastor wants Christmas to be illegal because he believes it is pagan, as did the Puritans. (And other pastors have tried to ban it from public schools for the same reason.)
B) A petition – started by whom, it’s not clear – seeking to remove Christmas from the list of American holidays. It needs 1 million signatures. It’s been out there a couple years, and so far, it has two. If this is from The Atheists, you can see that this is obviously our most pressing concern.
THAT ONE TIME CHRISTMAS WAS BANNED – BY CHRISTIANS
However, someone DID wipe Christmas off the calendar, for a very long time. And it wasn't the Liberals, atheists or secularists. It was the Puritan Christians – among the very first Europeans to settle in America.
By the 1500s, the Puritans in England were sick and tired of the drunken merrymaking that often accompanied the holiday: “…the robbery, whoredom, murder and what not.” In the 1640s, they attempted to outlaw it. They weren't successful, but the Puritans who came to live in New England in America were. They banned Christmas in Boston from 1659 to 1681.
Anyone caught feasting, refusing to work, or observing the holiday in any way was fined 5 shillings (the equivalent of about $100 now) per day. Some were imprisoned. The Puritan teaching that Christmas was Satanic stuck, though. Even after the ban was lifted, Christmas wasn't widely celebrated in Boston until the mid-1880s.
The Ulysses S. Grant administration named Christmas was named a national holiday in 1870. Grant came SEVENTEEN PRESIDENTS AFTER George Washington. So it’s not like the Founding Fathers’ very first decision was to give all Americans a day off work to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
Given all this, it’s hard to argue convincingly that secular expressions of the holiday were invented by Liberals and non-believers, who didn't officially exist in the 1860s; and when such expressions exploded in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with no condemnation by Christians in general. And it certainly doesn't demonstrate that celebrating Christmas is a defining characteristic of True Americans™.
SO HERE'S THE THING
Cross my heart and hope to die: You really don’t need to worry about a nefarious plot by Liberals and non-believers to destroy Christmas. (You might have to worry about certain Christians. But not us.) Most of us love the beautiful lights, the focus on the poor and needy, and being with loved ones too. We enjoy a day off work. And we love a party – especially since even LINDA suggests we can still GET gifts! Woot!
PS. Here’s a different view on Christmas from Samurai Mohel, perhaps a more “Jewish” Jew than Dennis Prager: JESUS CHRIST, WOULD DENNIS PRAGER SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT CHRISTMAS