The Secularization of Christmas and Why I Have a Problem With It

DISCLAIMER: I just have to throw this out there because I know I'm probably going to offend someone even though that is not my intention whatsoever. I respect everyone's beliefs, whether they are different from mine or the same. That is the beauty of the world and our differences give us something to talk about and see things from perspectives that are different from our own. These are just MY personal thoughts and opinions and you are free to disagree or agree.

Christmas is a holiday celebrating and remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, which most Christians celebrate. Which is what Christmas is, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, hence the name Christmas. There are some controversies around the holiday because even before Jesus was born, there were other celebrations going on around this time of year, but Christmas itself--the holiday people all over the world celebrate--is the birth of Jesus Christ.

"Okay Sarah, what are you getting at?" I kinda have a problem with how the holiday has moved away from the main reason for celebrating. It is no longer centered around Jesus Christ... it is centered around presents, Santa, decorating, and literally everything but Jesus. If you look at today's Christmas music, most songs have nothing to do with the Jesus and instead revolve around Christmas trees, significant others, sex, presents, drinking, snow, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I love some of these songs! All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey is one of my favorite Christmas songs EVER. It just bothers me that not many people acknowledge the birth of Jesus. It has become a completely secular holiday and doesn't involve Christ or church as much anymore.

If you're confused with the point I'm trying to make, let me give an example of another religious holiday. My family is from India and the main religion in India is Hinduism. Diwali is one of the main holidays of Hinduism. Although I am Indian, I don't celebrate Diwali because it is a Hindu holiday and I don't feel right celebrating a holiday that is not part of my religion and I don't want to disrespect Hinduism by appropriating their religion. I've attended Diwali programs here in my hometown, but they are more of a cultural experience to educate people who are not familiar with Diwali or the Indian culture, and it is open to everyone of all beliefs. But we don't go home and actually celebrate and do all the rituals or put up lights because it is not Christian. I hope I am making sense? But I do know it is important to Hindus, so I try to acknowledge the religious aspect of it because it's not all about the parties and the fancy Indian clothes. I was even asked to emcee a Diwali program years ago and we went into depth about the beliefs and why Hindus celebrate the holiday. I know a lot some people sometimes go to Diwali events to learn more about the culture and beliefs (main reason why I've gone because I don't want to be ignorant of their beliefs), but I also know some people just go because it's an excuse to be part of something different and "cool." (I could go into a whole new post on cultural appropriation but not right now lol) My main point is that most people acknowledge and respect the fact that it is a Hindu holiday and don't sexualize the holiday or turn it into something that it is not. It is still viewed as a religious holiday. There are other holidays besides Diwali which are still completely revolved around the respected religion or country because it is considered disrespectful otherwise to celebrate. In today's society, people get upset if you celebrate certain holidays without acknowledging the true meaning of that holiday or the country where it originated (i.e. cultural appropriation).

But Christmas on the other hand... like what happened?? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the lights and Santa. But why is it okay to celebrate a religious holiday without the religious aspect of it? Companies have completely commercialized it and it has become a money-making scheme. The holiday season is fun, but it has also become a stressful time for many when you have to decorate, buy gifts for people, spend a ton of money on some of these gifts, and companies take full advantage of it. Not only that, but I have seen people completely cut out Christ out of the holiday; don't listen to the religious songs, don't go to church, don't even acknowledge Christ, but still put up a Christmas tree (which technically has nothing to do with the birth of Christ as well if I'm being completely real), throw Christmas parties, and give/receive gifts on December 25th. I honestly don't know how the birth of Christ branched out into all this, but everyone has picked up all these secular traditions over the years and made it "Christmas" while taking out the real meaning of it, which is Jesus. And Santa, by the way, also has religious connections which no one acknowledges anymore. "Santa" was originated from St. Nicholas, who was a monk and later became a saint, and is the patron saint of sailors, children, wolves and pawnbrokers, and other various things.

I am 100% aware I am making a huge deal out of this and it's really not that deep, lol. I really don't know why I'm so bothered by this. I guess it's been something that has been bothering me for the past couple of years because I think as a society, we have become more mindful, open, respectful to different cultures and beliefs. Which is AMAZING!! Especially as a South Indian Orthodox Christian woman, I love seeing people be more appreciative and willing to learn about my culture and faith. But then when it comes to Christmas, all of that respect goes in the trash. I guess my whole point of this post is to bring awareness? I am not here to be a grinch and tell all my non-Christian friends and readers not to celebrate Christmas. I am not here to put down other religious beliefs. I am just here to say to be mindful of the fact that Christmas is a Christian holiday, so if you choose to take part in the festivities, don't forget to acknowledge the reason for the season... the birth of Jesus Christ.

Check out my last post: I Don't Know Fashion: Sweaters and Boots
Check out my holiday gift guide: Holiday Gift Guide 2019 (for men and women!)



  1. I found your post to be very interesting but there are more points to add.

    1. The bible doesn't clearly state when the birth of Christ took place. The church decided to declare Christmas around the same time of the winter solstice which is a *pagan* holiday. Christians somewhat adopted the practices of gift giving and the tree from the winter solstice traditions.

    2. The Christmas tree takes root from the European/ Egyptian traditions. But Christians made it into their own. The tree represents the garden of eden, ornaments = the forbidden fruit, the star on top= the star of Bethlehem, and the angel on a tree represents Gabriel.

    3. Like you said advertising agencies will capitalize on this major holiday as it is widely celebrated throughout the world. You should also see how many ad campaigns are pumped out even during Diwali. Also sex sells is an age old advertising tactic that even spread out to christmas

    People do see that Christmas is rooted in Christianity, but what many don't know is how the Christmas traditions of today were originally pagan customs adopted by Christians. So in a way Christians culturally appropriated the winter solstice.

    The subject isn't as black and white, because it has a ton of grey areas. It's really interesting to see how people adopt different cultures and make it there own. The complexities of culture and religion is interesting to say the least.

    1. I agree it's definitely not black and white! While there were other pagan traditions going around at the time, and Christians might have adopted some of these traditions as their own, it doesn't change the fact that we don't follow these traditions today because of the winter solstice; we follow them because of Christmas... which is still the birth of Jesus Christ. Maybe if the world as a whole declared the act of gift-giving as the celebration of the winter solstice (which is actually Dec. 21st) or whatever pagan holiday instead of Christmas, it would make more sense. But it doesn't, and all of this still falls under Christmas. Unless all the Christians decide one day to separate themselves from the secular side of the celebrations, idk. But like you said, it's all very complex and interesting!

    2. It's no coincidence that Christmas is celebrated on Dec 25th and the Winter solstice is on Dec 21st. That's why I specifically said that Christmas day was declared "around" the time of the winter solstice. Who exactly chose Dec 25th as the day to celebrate Christmas was the Roman Catholic Church under Emperor Constantine when he declared Christianity as the religion of Rome. Christmas was an alternative for the pagan celebrations of the winter solstice in Rome.

      The puritan Christians in the 1600s actually did declare the Christmas traditions like gift giving and the Christmas tree as pagan. Puritans felt the same as you did. Eventually laws were passed by Puritans in England and America to stop Christmas celebrations. Puritans felt that Christmas should only be celebrated in churches. However, people still continued to celebrate and eventually it was declared a federal holiday in the 1800s. By then Christmas celebration bans were repealed. Funny enough, there were commercials for Christmas even in the 1800s.

      The secularization of Christmas didn't happen overnight but centuries ago. Over time, the lines between the reason of Christmas and pagan customs blurred with each passing century. Some Christians do know the origins of Christmas traditions, and others don't. I'm a Catholic myself. My Church has a Christmas tree/secret santas, and I don't feel like it takes away from the meaning of Christmas. My non Christian friends don't necessarily celebrate "Christmas" but it's the "Holidays" for them.


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