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Taking the 'Christ' Out of Christmas Cartoons

One thing we can count on every year is the media’s constant drum-banging about the so-called “War on Christmas.” Apparently, nothing going on in the world is quite as important as whether people, companies and towns wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.

Like most issues, cartoonists take sides on this reindeer-filled battlefield. Mike Lester, the cartoonist for the Rome News-Tribune, approaches the notion of political correctness around the holidays with a deft hand and sarcastic sense of humor.


Cartoonist Brian Fairrington is also a harsh critic of the “Happy Holidays” P.C. crowd, and even developed his own ending to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’


Salt Lake Tribune
cartoonist Pat Bagley sees the “War on Christmas” as largely missing the point, as the holiday became less about Christ and more about commercialization a long time ago…


Meanwhile, Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press-Gazette things we should honor the true symbols of Christmas – the blowhards…


Lastly, John Trever of the Albuquerque Journal doesn’t think there’s any room left for Christ. After all, the electric bill is already through the roof…

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

59 replies on “Taking the 'Christ' Out of Christmas Cartoons”

Interestingly enough … this is the first thing I've heard or read on the subject. Maybe the 'media’s constant drum-banging' isn't what it used to be??

I have never met anybody who got offended by someone saying Merry Christmas to them. I have been met with yelling for telling someone Happy Holidays. You Christians are so Christ like. Nice work.

This idea that atheists and people of other religions are at war with Christmas is just stupid. Some of us may not be fans of using our tax dollars for something that's blatantly forbidden by the first amendment but to say we're at war against Christ or Christmas is just ridiculous. Pat Bagley had the right idea in her cartoon above. Christians took Christ out of Christmas years ago. Christmas hasn't been about Christ in a long time. Christians made Christmas about shopping and sales rather than praying and good deeds. You people gave up "Jesus Saves" in favor of "Jesus Saves 40%" years ago. Quit blaming us for your failings.

Jay, I wish I believed in the rapture. I can't wait for you people to be taken away.

Oh, boy, here we go again. Another season of micro-dermal Christmas Nazis screaming bloody murder whenever someone dares to wish anyone anything else than "Merry Christmas".

I hate to be nostaligic, but I guess people were saner when I was young: back then, no one made a fuss if someone wished them "Happy Holidays" (it was very common 50 years ago!). Or maybe they had better memories back then, and remembered that there are other holidays beside Christmas during the winter (like Hannucka, and New Years). Or maybe they were more tolerate, recognizing that in America, we do not force people to express specific religious views, and that not everyone celebrated Christmas (a prime example being Jews)

Or maybe more people we smart enough to know that Jesus was not actually born on Christmas, or even Winter, but that he was born "when shepards watched their flocks by night" (in Bible college, I was told that would be spring time, and nobody was dismissed from that religious school for expressing that heresy); and that all peoples of the world have celebrated some form of winter solstice holiday for tens of thousands of years before Christ was born (in springtime); or knew enough history to know that most Christmas traditions were imported from ancient pagan holidays–like Saturnalia, the Roman holiday that Christmas replaced (although the parts of the holiday live on in traditions like gift-giving, and parties)

Or maybe people were just wiser back then, realizing that for anyone who actually followed Jesus, it did not really matter when Christmas was celebrated; and many could make the distinction in their minds that what we call Christmas is actually two holidays: one that should be called 'Christbirth', to be celebrated in quite humility, focusing on God's gifts to mankind; another that can be called 'Xmass', a secular marketing orgy of parties, pagan decorations, gift-giving and gift-getting.

PS: Here's wishing everyone a scintillating Solstice, a blessed Christbirth, a Merry Xmass, a cheery Kwanzaa, and a Happy New Year…..

I am a Christian and Christmas is very important to me. However, how is everyone else to know that? How am I to know what others celebrate? There are several holidays around this time of the year so saying Happy Holidays encompasses all of them for whichever is celebrated by the person you are talking to. I don't get offended my that. The sentiment is there, whatever is said. The person is saying I hope you enjoy the holiday of your choice. Why would I in turn only wish them a Merry Christmas?

Danielle,
I'm Jewish and don't have a need for everyone to know that so I don't run around at Rosh Hashanah wishing everyone Happy Jewish New Year or Happy Hanukah. I got no problem with Christians wanting to wish people merry Christmas but it sure would be nice if they could realize that not all of us are Christians. For me it is a matter of respect of other's religious or non-religious beliefs. My guess is that corp. American uses Happy Holidays NOT to be disresptful of Christians but to BE respectful that not all of us celebrate it. For those of us who do not celebrate it, it gets shoved down our throats ad nauseum by the media. Since the US economy is heavily dependent on excessive materialistic spending during the holiday, that is probably a good thing, but all we non-Christians want is a little respect.

People complain that Christmas is too commercialized, and then they complain when ads for businesses don't say "Merry Christmas"….
When it actually IS Christmas, I will wish people a MERRY CHRISTMAS! but until then, it's the holiday season, and I am happy to wish the Joy of the Season to all.

roy, at least at one point, scholarship had Jesus born around Halloween. Quien sabe? However, you are right on about the 'official' date; it was chosen as a deceptive marketing tool for the Catholic Church hundreds of years after the fact. Perhaps we should celebrate 'Happy Solstice' on the 23rd?

For Den & Roy :

You are both correct. Christmas was a holiday created by the Catholic Church to correspond with the Roman celebration known as the "Saturnalia" (for the head Roman diety – Saturn) it started December 17 & eventually extended to December 24th. It was a time to "eat, drink & be merry". It was also a time to give small gifts to frineds & family. There was also another celebration around the same time to the god Bacchus which invloved a lot of drinking!!

The Germanic barbarians, Slavs, Celts, etc. all celebrated the Winter Solstice. In the German areas it was common to decorate the house with fir & evergreen trees/branches.

Call it what you will. I don't care if someone says Merry Christmas, Hasppy Holidays, whatever. I do mind if I say one & someone freaks out.

In a lighter note I recently recieved an e-mail that had many pictures of Christmas trees & finished off with the whole "Jesus is the reason for the season" – I doubt they understand the irony of the e-mail BUT I got a good chuckle.

Happy Holidays! Holiday means holy day. I get sick of the Christmas music in the stores. We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas! It would be a lot merrier if I didn't have to hear this same music over and over and over. The stores know that music encourages consumers to buy……
so why not just an honest song like Money by Pink Floyd.

Also what about the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindi, and non-believers? Where is our music?

Happy Holy Days, all!

Yes, obviously (to anyone aware that the Earth orbits around the sun), the tilt of the Earth's axis is the reason for the season. I guess they meant "celebration", not "season" (and also forgot to mention which celebration). I think a much kinder , more civil, and more Christlike version of the chiche would be:
"Jesus is the reason for our Christmas"
If someone wants other people to join them in celebrating Christs birth, a positive message will attract more people than an obnoxious one.

I found Santa saying, "Taking Christ out of Christmas just isn't right," particularly ironic. When people wish me "Merry Christmas," I generally wish them "A Blessed Advent," since my faith tradition doesn't celebrate Christmas until December 25,

Since I live in reality, reasonableness and common sense, which defines me as an atheist, I enjoy saying merry christmas.
Screw the cowardly happy holidays.
Why do I see it this way?
Even though I don't talk with imaginary entities and ask them to heal the sick, etc, I prefer saying merry christmas just becaise it sounds and feels warm and/or friendly.
I even have it on my business answering machine.

So, merry christmas to one and all.

Just a quick note… I was happy to see enough responses that were quite positive 🙂 there were penty of religions celebrating from mid to the end of December, a few thousands of years before Christ. It wasn't until centuries after christ did the "church" decide to celebrate the birth of christ on a sacred day of other religions, to try to incorporate the "pagans" into the christian folds. I'm glad that some people seem to understand that the "church" basically was squatting on other religions' holiday purely for political reasons.Some sources say as 'early as 400, and then other sources say at least 700. I found it amazing that the "church" banned the celebration of Christmas in the 1600's to separate the "pagans" from the christians in England and a bit across Europe, but that only lasted a few years. I like that people understand that when Christ was realistically born, thanks to clues from their own Bible. I am also delighted to see some wonderful responses from Christians. Most of the responses are well done 🙂

The message that's gotten lost in all the hullabaloo over wishing someone a merry Christmas is this…..
"Earth, be at peace, and have good will toward all your fellow humans!"

This is one time each year we are reminded to be kind and giving. Be mindful of others and do whatever is in our power to do to make someone other than ourselves happy. We can all find some form in which to express and convey happiness to others; be it with gifts, or a civil greeting and honest wish for a joy filled holiday.

Peace on earth could be a wonderful thing for all earth's inhabitants, if we would just try to help it along.

Hi Raine, it's so ironic that the war on Christmas was originally between Christians. I love how wikipedia puts it:
"Christmas was a target in the ideological warfare of the European Protestant Reformation. Most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans regarded the day as an abomination while Anglicans, Lutherans, the Dutch Reformed and other denominations embraced the holiday and joined Roman Catholics in celebrating it"
Indeed Christmas was even illegal in America (New England) for many years. 🙂

Poor little Christians. Ever under the gun, they feel ambushed, bushwhacked, harassed, punished, sacrificed, all because they are Christians. Poor little Christians.
Here we are in the 21st century and so many people still resent it when someone acknowledges that other religions and holidays exist during this particular happiest time of the year.
Hey, get a grip! Man up! Are you so-called christians (yes, small "c") so insecure in your faith that you must rely on someone's greeting to confirm your Christianity?
As a Catholic–the original Christians–my faith does not rely on a teller or cashier or corporation for validation. I validate that every day by doing what Christ would do: love everybody for what they feel, not by what they call themselves.

Christmas has long been the day to worship the Almighty Dollar in the form of presents galore.

That said, they don't take the Muslims out of Ramadan, the Jews out of Chanukah, the harvest festival out of Kwanzaa, or the pagans out of their Yule. Why take Christ out of Christmas? Christians have just as much right to freedom of religion as non-Christians, and this whole Happy Holidays/Winter Festival nonsense is just removing Christians' rights as given under the First Amendment.

Amy, the problem is that December is chock full of holidays, and some vocal microdermal alleged christians refuse to recognize that there are other legitimate winter holidays besides christmas. Christmas is only one day, December 25, and Christians have absolutely no legal or moral right to prevent other people from celebrating Hanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Solstice, whatever.

Non-christians and open minded christians have just as much right to freedom of religion and expression as closed minded Christians, and the whole war against christmas nonsense is just removing other people's right under the First Amendment to celebrate whatever winter holidays they want.

The fact is that some supposed christians are going ballistic over the traditional greeting of 'Happy Holidays'. Just What Would Jesus Do anyway? (If the Bible is any guide, he would rail against the hypocrites that make such mountains out of molehills)

So have a happy holiday, which ever one you chose to observe. And this time, do try to honor the spirit of christmas and goodwill to all this year.

Amy: "they don’t take the Muslims out of Ramadan, the Jews out of Chanukah, the harvest festival out of Kwanzaa, or the pagans out of their Yule."
This makes no sense at all. Is the word "muslim" in "ramadan"? the word "jew" in "chanukah"? etc? Has someone ever come up to you and said you cannot worship, celebrate in your home, your church? No, Amy. No one has done this. So your statement that your rights have been taken away or are under threat is at best, hyperbole.
The only thing people are doing by saying "happy holiday" is recognizing that other religions and celebrations happen to coincide during this season. Cannot you recognize this? Is your faith so weak? Can you not feel free to celebrate your way and recognize others?
You and others should examine just what sort of "christians" you are.

There's a fairly strong argument for Jesus' birth being around the Jewish festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (September/October), with the date being extrapolated from the birth of John the Baptist, who would have been born around Passover, six months earlier. John was born six months before Jesus, and the date of his conception can be determined based on when the angel told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would have a baby. This date can be determined because the Bible lists off when each family of priests was to serve in the Temple, and we know what family of priests Zechariah belonged to.

Plus, Sukkot is a pilgrimage holiday, while Hanukkah is not. The Romans wouldn't have picked a totally random day out in the middle of winter to hold the census; they often chose dates appropriate to each region's customs. So a pilgrimage holiday, when all of the families of Israel would be going to census locations was supremely convenient.

Christmas is nothing more than a day which was chosen to celebrate Jesus' birth; it was not THE ACTUAL DAY. Besides, as one Christian put it, Jesus is born in someone every single day, so /every day/ is Christmas Day. Though I'm not a Christian myself, that attitude made me smile.

Where are all those crazy bomb loving Muslims when you need them to spend Christmas over at the ACLU. Heck I up the anti two more virgins!!

A lot of Christians are fed up with the crass commercialism of christmas–and now with the pro-christmas clueless culture warriors– and would rather take the christ out of Christmas and celebrate Christ-birth on as different day. Xmas could still be the secular commercial marketing orgy, free for all religions, while Christbirth would be a time to celebrate Jesus's birth. Sort of like a religious version of Festivus (which is family oriented, not religious).
It is incredibly annoying listening to some alleged christians first bitch about the commercialism of christmas, and then bitch about any challenge to the sanctity & primacy of christmas (as God himself endorses all of the reindeer & santas & elves & trees & decorations & greed & etc & etc).
Devout & thinking Christians cannot help but be a little envious of other winter holidays that are free to focus on non-material matters during their celebrations.

Christmas isn't even all that important in terms of Christian belief–Easter and Pentecost Sunday are the pivotal events. Christian sects differ on the origin of their Christ, his nature as god/man, etc., but they don't differ much at all on the importance of those two events. As other commentors have noted, Christmas was overlaid on top of Saturnalia and other (especially Celtic and Germanic) pagan winter solstice holidays, so that it was easier to convert those populations.

I respect your right to observe your religion peaceably. You just can't use our tax dollars to pay for it, nor our tax-funded public places to display it (see Constitution).

Nobody calls a menorah a "holiday candle", why should anybody call a Christmas tree a "holiday tree"? Apparently some folks DO have a problem with Christmas.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanakuah, and Happy Kowanza, and a Happy New Year's, almost in one breadth.

No one has complained yet.

Christmas never has and never will be "owned" by Christians. People all across the northern hemisphere celebrated around this time of year for thousands of years before Christ was born. The Romans simply renamed the festival "Christmas" and LIED that it was when Christ was born. In other words, THEY STOLE CHRISTMAS!

Then Christians spent centuries oppressing and murdering all who opposed them. But those days are past – it is time to return the festival that was stolen and ask forgiveness for the thousands of pagans who were murdered by Christians over the years for wanting freedom of religion.

It's time to put the Mitra (Iranian Sun God) back into the winter solstice – and tell Christians to GET THEIR OWN HOLIDAY.Then we can have a pleasant midwinter celebration again, which I'll call Xmas for convenience. It will still have all its NON-CHRISTIAN traditions like Xmas trees, Xmas lights, Santa Claus, presents, parties, drinking & feasting, sleigh rides, and all the other things that have NO ORIGIN in Christianity.

We can again have goodwill TO ALL, including people of all faiths and no-faiths. This acceptance and generosity during the festival is also an ancient tradition predating Christ. That Christmas is NOT necessarily a religious holiday is what makes it special. I know people of many faiths that either celebrate a secular Christmas or substitute their own religious traditions. This is as it should be – a holiday everyone can celebrate together – as mid-winter festivals were for centuries before arrogant Christians started dictating rules.

Every religious scholar knows Christ was not born any time near December. This was just a deceptive marketing ploy by the church. So if Christians want a strictly "religious holiday", then create one closer to when Christ was REALLY born. You can keep the nativity scene, religious carols and midnight mass. All the 'commercialization' will be gone – no presents or parties to distract you – so all your time can be spent praying and honoring Jesus just like you want. If the church hadn't STOLEN a pagan/secular holiday, this is likely how Christmas would always have been.

So give me a break about how Christmas is being "stolen". YOU are the ones who stole it! The winter festival was not invented by Christians, nor were its most popular traditions. You are welcome to share the festivities, but keep your opinions on how to celebrate it to yourself. Otherwise you can piss off and quit freeloading on my pagan heritage and traditions.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ALL

Here's to wishing all of the atheists and pagans posting their usual contrarian, anti-Christian blather a Merry "Pull Your Heads Out of Your Asses" Day.

The world would be all the richer without your nastiness.

I am Jewish and I used to live in NJ. People wished me Merry Christmas all the time and I just said
"happy holiday to you" or "thank you". What bothers me is the display of religious items on public land,
eg. city halls, highways, schools. I don't think that there should be any expression of religion on public property, including menorahs. There is a clear tradition of separation of church and state in the USA
which I think should be kept. If you want to celebrate, put up your decorations on your house, in your living room, or in your yard. My former neighbors in NJ used to put up life-sized nativity figures on their lawn
as soon as they took down the Halloween decorations. I didn't mind; they never complained when I put up my sukkah for the fall holiday. This is as it should be. One of the nice things about Israel, where I currently live, is that I don't have to endure 3 months of "reindeer" music, which has nothing to do with
religion, from Oct-Jan.; Unfortunately, Americans have turned their religious holidays into a consumer
frenzy instead of putting the emphasis on faith and good deeds. As a Jew, I have to say that I feel more
comfortable here. In any case, Happy Holidays to everyone.

I'm usually in accord with Christians, but this "happy holidays" hubub does seem out of control.

I understand that the "war" began with a few instances in which retailers explicitly forbade employees from referencing "Christmas" in greetings and instituted a policy of using the otherwise inoffensive "happy holidays" as substitute. Hopefully most folks would recognize how that isn't a nice policy for the true believing employees. But somewhere along the way things got distorted and we wind up with scenes akin to Mike Lester's road rage cartoon above.

Personally, use of the term "x-mas" has always struck me as being much more hostile.

Now, I see here that a lot of professing Christians do use that term, but even then it is done as a denouncing the commercialism of the 'modern' solstice holiday.

A pretty nasty comment rogerC, especially when it is so-called christians who are reacting the most violently to the traditional 'happy holidays' greeting, and trying to force people to use 'Merry Christmas' instead.
You should see a doctor about your cerebrally impacted cloaca.

The term 'Xmas' actually has christian origins. Ancient christians would use the greek letter chi to stand for christ (like they used the fish symbol), as sort of a secret code to avoid public notice in the times of prosecutions.
(The greek letter chi looks like the latin letter X)
Since the entymology is lost on 99% of people, it is irrelevant to today, other than the fact that non-christians did not make it up to 'take' christ out of christmas.

"Duck season!"
"Rabbit season!"
"Duck season!"
"Rabbit season!"
"Christmas season!"

"Be verrry quiet, we're hunting Christmases! Ahahaha."

While christmas may not have been commerical (as we know it) over the last 2000 years, from the moment Saturnalia was baptized and became christmas, christmas was a time of eating, drinking, games, and partying–just like saturnalia. This was why christmas was an abomination to many protestant christians, and even illegalized in parts of the USA (by puritans, >200 years ago). (Charles Dicken's whole point of writng the Christmas Carole was to revive the christmas holiday in England).

When christmas did come back, it was very much a different & cleaned up holiday, but at least until crass commercialism of modern times took the place of general debachery of olden times. So the more things change, the more they stay the same. The commericialism of today's christmas echoes the debachery of 1-2000 years ago

It is just as deplorable to see the snide & superstitous religionists out there tossing their holier than thou cynicism and disdain for people of other religions (and non-religion) as they do each year. Their consistent intolerance has become part of the Advent period, just as much as Advent Calendars, only not nearly as sweet and innocuous.

I for one certainly miss the days when one could wish other's Happy Holidays without fear of offending the intolerant, those days before irresponsible media companies made the alleged war-on-christmas are regular part of their holiday programming (sort of like an evil counterpart to the Charlie Brown Christmas special they used to broadcast every year).

Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Blessed Yuletide and whatever else that occurs around the Winter Solstice

Den: I actually had read about the etymological origin before, but don't believe anyone in our lifetime has ever used "X-mas" as anything but a way of avoiding Christian validation. That is, I believe the only purpose anyone today has for using the term is exactly as you said: 'taking the Christ out,' with critical intent of one sort or another.

Am I wrong?

Noor al Haqiqa said: "Before the world became so contentious and full of special interests, in the homeland where the three main religions began, this petty squabbling did not exist until recently."

Centuries of outright war must not count as petty squabbling…

Piledriver: "don't believe anyone in our lifetime has ever used “X-mas” as anything but a way of avoiding Christian validation." It's just short: Madison Avenue and advertising. Showing the true spirit of the season: commercialism.

It's time to go com;ete;y bankrupt. The only solution? shup in Janury for the best deals ever and recycle all gifts and wrappings!!! Be smart!

Whether Jesus was the son of God or not, he was a man who suggested we all be nice to each other. Then, we killed him. Now the celebration of his birth is marked by people who want to make a big deal out of other religions daring to have a celebration at this time of year.

Would you really like to keep the "Christ" in "Christmas?" here's what you do: give away any extraneous things you have, take down the tree, and spend December 25th volunteering at a homeless shelter. It's what Jesus would have done. Beause some store selling you that thing you don't need doesn't wish you, "merry Christmas!" as you lay down your maxed out credit card is no reason to start bitching and moaning about it.

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