Christians Against Christmas
"People don't think of it this way, but it's really a secular holiday," said Foster, a Princeton-based pastor in the United Church of God. He last celebrated Christmas when he was 8.
His church's objection to Christmas is rare among U.S. Christians. Gallup polls from 1994 to 2005 consistently show that more than 90 percent of adults say they celebrate Christmas, including 84 percent of non-Christians. That's a huge change from an earlier era, when many Protestants ignored or actively opposed the holiday. But as it gradually became popular as a family celebration, churches followed their members in making peace with Christmas.
But think about it. Remember these lines from A Christmas Carol:
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
"God bless Christmas"? Didn't that strike you as odd? It always did me. Did Christmas sneeze? Well, Christmas was not a universal holiday in England back then, either, and seen in this light, those words make more sense.
Christmas wasn't embraced by Americans until the 19th century - and even then, it was not embraced by all. But the idealistic writings of Washington Irving popularized the image of Christmas as a family-centered, egalitarian holiday dedicated to charity and peace.
In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving's mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving's fictitious celebrants enjoyed "ancient customs," including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving's book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving's account actually "invented" tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
The United Church of God and Jehovah's Witnesses and other conservative Protestants do not celebrate Christmas. Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Yule, while many atheist/agnostics and non-practicing Jews prefer to celebrate the Winter Solstice, although some (like Richard Dawkins) celebrate Christmas - which gets some Bible-believing folks into a lather - a humorous lather, or in the case of Albert Mohler, a weird, Scrooge-like, fribbitiginny-conniption-fit.
On the other hand, the Klingons love Christmas! Who’d’uv thunk?
(I hope that I don't have to remind anyone that Hanukkah is not "how the Jewish people celebrate Christmas," as one woman griped in an interview on NPR in the 1980s, after she had just given a talk on Hanukkah to a bunch of Christians. I never forgot that one! A perfect example of projection.)