Holiday trees. Seasons Greetings. Carols devoid of religious references. Is there a "war on Christmas," as some cable news commentators and politicians believe?
John Fea, a Messiah College history professor, does not deny that there has been a shift in how Christmas is celebrated in the United States in the 21st century. But as he looks back into the country's past, investigating arguments by conservative political personalities like Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly calling for a return to the United States' "golden age" of Christmas, he is not convinced that such an era ever existed.
A scholar who specializes in early American history, Fea says that the claim that the U.S. once placed "the incarnation and the birth of Christ at the center of American culture," simply does not hold up historically. more >>
For the seventh consecutive year the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be milled and its lumber used in the building of a Habitat for Humanity home.
The 76-foot-tall Norway spruce will return to its home state of Connecticut and be used by Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County to help build exterior and interior walls for a home in the city of Bridgeport.
Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree was first donated to Habitat for Humanity in 2007. Lumber from previous trees has been used in the construction of homes in Pascagoula, Miss.; Stamford, Conn.; Newburgh, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Morris, N.J.; and New York City. more >>
A family in Newton, Mass., received an anonymous letter, reportedly from their neighbors, calling their home's Christmas decorations "tacky and kitschy" and demanding that they take the decorations indoors because "not everybody in the neighborhood is Christian."
Kelly Hunter and her family have been putting up a vibrant and elaborate Christmas display on the outside of their home in Newton for nearly 40 years as a part of a holiday tradition started by Kelly's father, William Hunter, a local firefighter who is now deceased. The decorations include several lights adorning the home, a baby Jesus in a nativity, Santa, snowmen, toy soldiers and other classic Christmas characters dotting the home's front yard and roof.
Recently, the Hunter family received a letter telling the family that their spirited display was "cheap, tacky and kitschy." more >>
Prince Charles said Tuesday that organized persecution of Christians in the Middle East has reached a "crisis" point and that Christianity is in danger of disappearing from its birthplace, which would result in the world losing something "irreplaceably precious."
"It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ," the Prince of Wales said at an Advent reception for Middle East Christians.
"Today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four percent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further," he continued. more >>
The Christmas season is a time filled with family, friends, and traditions. It is also a time when, if not careful, we can get all wrapped up in the wrong things. Instead of experiencing peace on earth and goodwill toward men our plans and preparations for the "perfect family Christmas" wrap us up in knots.
A great exercise to keep your peace is to practice self-awareness. Stop and check in with yourself. Are you feeling anxious, stressed, frustrated, or disappointed? Are you experiencing peace or do you feel like you are wrapped up tighter than the package you sent to Aunt Martha? Next, ask why? What am I thinking about that is stirring my emotions? Is it true? Or is my imagination running away with me? Finally, redirect your thoughts. Peace is knowing that no matter what I'm okay because Jesus is Lord over everything. Peaceful people habitually surrender their thoughts and emotions to the Prince of Peace.
So what can we do to remain peaceful this Christmas? more >>
A survey released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that there has been a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who prefer a non-religious "Happy Holidays" greeting over the religious "Merry Christmas" salutation.
The recent poll found that 49 percent of Americans prefer stores and businesses use non-religious greetings, such as "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" rather than the traditional "Merry Christmas" to show respect for people of other faiths. This is slightly up from the same 2010 survey that found 44 percent of Americans want businesses to use a non-religious greeting.
PRRI also found that 43 percent of Americans specifically prefer the religious greeting of "Merry Christmas," compared to 2010 when 49 percent specifically wanted the traditional religious greeting. more >>