Here, let me help you with that
You know, back when I was in law school, I took a class on the First Amendment/Church and State, and this exact same "conversation" happened on a pretty regular basis. As a jewish person, it often fell to me to try to get the point across that a Christmas tree, no matter how secular "seeming" to people for whom it is the norm (read: christians), was not, by definition, a secular object. I love Christmas trees - when I was a kid, I used to love to go over to my best friend's house to help her family decorate their tree. But there's a reason that I didn't have my own tree to decorate. Because it's a christmas tree. It's all a matter of framing. People who are in the majority (whether it be by race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality) just naturally see themselves as the "norm". But just because you identify yourself as the norm, doesn't mean that your experience is actually normative.
You know, as a pagan-leaning type, i'd personally be perfectly fine with the Evergreen for Winter Solstice, seeing as how that is where it comes from; but, you know, maybe someone ought to let the War On Christmas types know, because they seem pretty keen on it being -all- about y'know Christianity, i.e. the superiority thereof. when i was a kid i wanted a tree (we're Jewish, but agnostic). Mom probably wouldn't have minded. Dad was opposed. in the end we "compromised" and hung a couple of baubles (huh, huh, huh) on Mom's overgrown fern, in the living room.it was rather lame, actually.
What pisses me off about the whole thing is that so many things that have no religious significance have been co opted by Christians, who then seem to go to great pains to invent Christian meaning for them. I keep running into these faux histories for all kinds of crap: the candy cane, the "Twelve Days of Christmas" as a catechism. I'd like to get rid of all the Christmas stuff.
wait, wait. Now the candy cane is a traditional Christian symbol? Really? What's the explanation for that one?
The candy cane was recently ruined for me by my 4 year old's preschool (yes, I send him to a Christian preschool, it's my own fault). The candy cane is shaped like a "J" for Jaysus. The red stripe (and this will haunt you next time you pop one in your mouth) is the blood Jaysus shed for us. The white stripe is the pureness of Jaysus. What's interesting is that the little tag they put on the candy canes they sent home is very vague about when this transformation took place. It says, "Many years ago, a candy maker wanted to make a candy that symbolized the true meaning of Christmas...." To me, that sounds quite, well, pulled out of the Christian ass.
What.Please tell me you are making this up. PLEASE. "This is my body, take, su-" oh, nonono NO THEY DIDN'T. oh, that's really pathetic.
According to WikiPedia:The cane shape is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services. Whether the choirmaster had the "Good Shepherd" in mind is unknown. Another theory is, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution.
If I could insert a picture, I'd scan the tag they sent home with the munchkin that creates this new (and apparently unfounded) meaning for the candy cane. It makes me think a bit of Germany, or Moaist China...spreading the propoganda through children. In my best Mr. Burns voice, "Excellent. Excellent."
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