The Conflicted Holiday

Christmas is surely the most conflicted holiday in Western human culture.  Though based on religious faith, it has become heavily commercialized and is now vital to the health of our economies.  More private and public institutions are closed on Christmas than on any other holiday yet it falls on an arbitrary date, having no direct relationship to the astronomical calendar and not coinciding with a documented historical event.

Religious persons focus on the story of Christmas but give in to the commercialism that now smothers their holy day while nonbelievers, caught up in the wave of celebration and gift giving, reluctantly accept the religious aspects of the season; in particular, religious Christmas music is condoned if not enjoyed by these secular-minded citizens.  Of course, many tepid believers even find their way to church services on this religious-cultural holiday.

And, when it comes to the secular Christmas mythology that we instill in our children, many experience the conflict of cultural tradition and personal guilt, knowing that the innocents will soon outgrow the delusion but wondering if distrust is forever imbedded in their souls.  Indeed, this is the only facet of the holiday in which the religious and secular stories of Christmas seem to merge.