Something about Christmas seems to bring out the lunatic in people.
Some folks go on wild spending sprees.
A few either attack traditional signs of Christmas with a passion that makes the pre-spooked Scrooge look like Billy Graham, or try to make everyone accept their de-Christianized version of the ‘holiday..
This year, Wal-Mart got an early start on holiday madness when a customer complained that Wal-Mart had replaced its "Merry Christmas" greeting with "Happy Holidays."
The customer received this remarkable reply: "Walmart is a worldwide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than "christmas" which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with "christmas" red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world."
A Wal-Mart Representative named Kirby sent that message. Kirby isn't working at Wal-Mart any more, and Wal-Mart apologized.
Kirby wasn't the only problem Wal-Mart had, though. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights pointed out that the company Web site showed 200 retail items when "Hanukkah" was typed in their search engine. "Kwanzaa" gave 77 items. When "Christmas" got typed in, you'd get this message: "We've brought you to our 'Holiday. page based on your search."
Wal-Mart fixed its Web site, too, so that people find a "Christmas" section if they're looking for it.
Lands. End sells Christmas items, but won't use the C-word in its catalog. Here's how they explain their decision:
"We find ourselves in a difficult position with this issue. As a result, we have adopted the ‘holiday. terminology as a way to comply with one of the basic freedoms granted to all Americans: freedom of religion. We recognize that Christmas is a Christian holiday, and one of the foremost teachings of the Christian faith is a love for one's fellowman—no matter what his race, religion or creed.
"If we knew which customers feel as you do, we would be delighted to send them catalogs with ‘Merry Christmas. splashed throughout the pages. However, we don't."
Catholic League's president, Bill Donohue had this to say about Lands. End's policy:
"Freedom of religion is an important constitutional right, but to say that fidelity to that right demands that retailers censor the term Christmas at Christmastime wouldn't even be believed by the judges from the Ninth Circuit. Nor is it good customer relations to tell Christians who desire to buy Christmas gifts at Christmastime that they are a loveless bunch of bigots who have an impoverished understanding of their own religion."
Greeting card companies offer a wide variety of cards. In 2004 Hallmark had 104 Christmas cards:
With nativity scene
Hallmark had five Hanukkah cards, four with menorahs, and six Kwanza cards: all quite respectful of their holidays.
Maybe this year more people will buy Christmas cards that mention Jesus, encouraging Hallmark and other companies to make more.
It could be worse. Last year Chrismukkah was being taken seriously. Remember Chrismukkah? Some folks mixed Christmas and Hanukkah to make what can be politely called a hybrid holiday. Complete with Yamaclaus hats.
Chrismukkah deserves credit for being efficient: one multicultural concept offending both practicing Christians and observant Jews. The Catholic League and the New York Board of Rabbis issued a joint statement last year, calling Chrismukkah "shameful plagiarism," and saying that Jews and Christians "see each other as separate spiritual brothers and sisters who will work together to better the human family."
Facts are from the Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com), Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (www.catholicleague.org), and EWTN (www.ewtn.com).