I indicated in my blog entry on this matter a week ago, that I expected additional installments on “the War on Christmas 2009” … and here you are, yet more bellyaching from religionists over the holiday whose history and nature they do not even understand themselves — yet nevertheless they are furious over. The latest mêlée involves the Gap’s “Happy Dowhateveryouwannukah” campaign. The Chicago Sun-Times ran a column condemning this (to me) amusing send-up of the annual sanctimonious rancor:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those paranoid religious folks who believes that there is an organized effort to take the Christ out of Christmas orchestrated by a clandestine cabal of secular humanist movie moguls, feminists and vegetarians who plot their nefarious attack on family values …

I am no proponent of the alleged “War on Christmas.” …

But this year’s Gap “holiday” ad campaign just rubs me the wrong way.

In its effort, I would surmise, to be inclusive and inoffensive, the Gap has made the mortal advertising (and cultural) error of being twee. Not to mention spiritually facile.

Coumnist Cathleen Falsani continues not to get the humorous point of the campaign. In fact — and contrary to her original position that she’s no “warrior for Christmas” — she proceeds to spell out reasons why Christmas is oh-so-much-more-important than every other winter-solstice-time holiday:

Christmas celebrates the miraculous birth of a savior come to redeem the world. Hannukah, while also commemorating a miracle (a one-day supply of oil for a lamp in the temple lasted eight days) and the victory of the Jewish rebellion over the Hellenistic rulers of Jerusalem, it is a minor holiday, not to be compared to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur or the major festivals, Sukkot and Passover.

Kwanzaa is a nonreligious festival, begun in 1966 and celebrated nearly exclusively in the United States, which celebrates African-American culture and values. Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year and is for many pagans and neo-pagans the symbolic and spiritual rebirth of the year.

While each of these holidays, for lack of a more universally applicable term, is significant to different groups of believers (and nonbelievers, for that matter) they are not spiritual equivalents.

Her argument, then, amounts to something like this: Christmas, to Christians, means much more to them, than Hannukah does to Jews, or Kwanzaa to African-Americans, or the Solstice does to Neopagans/New Agers/Whatever … so this means that all those other people need to shut up, go away, and let those Christians abscond with the solstice-time, because they have subjectively and unilaterally determined that their need to celebrate Christmas exclusively, trumps everyone else.

I concede that Falsani does, near the end of her screed, point out that the chief army of the Forces of Christmas, the American Family Association, is factually incorrect in its claims about this Gap campaign — but at the same time she feels the need to add to her sniveling whine:

The “Dowhateveryouwannukah” spots have made me think twice about where I’ll purchase any last-minute stocking stuffers this year. But not for the same reason as that of the perennial saber-rattling “pro-family” organization the American Family Association, which, it brags, has been for 32 years “on the frontlines of the American culture war.”

Earlier this month the association called for a two-month boycott of the Gap because of its “censorship of the word ‘Christmas’ ” in its ads.


The Gap ad campaign (which began running a few days after the association’s clarion call for a boycott) says “Christmas” repeatedly, and that’s precisely my problem with it. The use of the word “Christmas” — and “Hannukah,” “Kwanzaa” and “Solstice” for that matter — is so flippant and false that the cheerbots might as well be shouting “Go Hippopotamus!” instead of “Go Christmas!”

Let me help you out a little, Ms Falsani; despite your claim to be no “Christmas warrior,” you do in fact have too much sanctimonious outrage to see the basic truth here, which is that the Gap’s “Dowhateveryouwannukah” is … (drumroll please!) … a joke. Yes, a joke. If you cannot accept that, it’s because you’re too wound up in it to understand the humor.

And in that case, Ms Falsani, the loss is yours — not mine, and not the Gap’s.

P.S. to Ms Falsani: Your observation that Hannukah doesn’t compare in scope within Judaism to the “High Holidays,” just makes it all the more remarkable that you do not, yourself, seem to know that Christmas just happens not to be the most important Christian holiday. That distinction goes to Easter! (What religion columnist in the US would fail to know that?)

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