EACH year, as wreaths and colored lights are hung on any structure that can support their weight, another holiday tradition begins: the bemoaning of the annual War on Christmas.
The American Family Association has called for boycotting Old Navy and the Gap for, out of political correctness, not using the term “Christmas” in their holiday advertising. Parents have criticized schools for diminishing Christmas celebrations by giving equal time to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. And the Catholic League used to have a Christmas “watch list” for naming and shaming “Christmas kill-joys.”
Anxiety over the War on Christmas is, in other words, an American tradition. But few realize how far back that tradition goes. The contemporary War on Christmas pales in comparison to the first — a war that was waged not by retailers but by Puritans who considered the destruction of Christmas necessary to the construction of their godly society.
In the early 17th century in England, the Christmas season was not so different from what it is today: churches and other buildings were decorated with holly and ivy, gifts were exchanged and charity was distributed among the poor.