Guest Commentary by Ben Self
Merry Clausmas, everyone! That’s right. I said “Clausmas.” Like many other people, I have been bothered for a long time about the commercialization of Christmas. All of the selling and buying and giving of gifts to one another has little to do with the Christian meaning of Christmas.
The birth of Jesus is the Christian meaning of Christmas. That meaning often fades into the background with the way that many celebrate the holiday.
From a Christian point of view, would it not be good to do away with the commercialization of Christmas?
But doing away with the commercialization of Christmas would hurt the economy. There are people who have jobs because of Christmas.
We are told that many merchants would not make an annual profit if not for Christmas sales. Surely we do not want to keep people from making a living.
So what should we do? Perhaps we could switch the commercialization of Christmas to Clausmas.
Many people emphasize Santa Claus at least as much as Jesus at Christmas, if not more. The change would simply recognize what many already believe and practice.
The change would leave Christians free to emphasize the religious meaning of Christmas. And the change would not hurt the merchants.
The celebration of Clausmas would probably expand business because everyone could celebrate Clausmas, if they wished.
Christians could celebrate both Christmas and Clausmas — but assign the commercialization to Clausmas. We would no longer have to feel sorry for Jewish children at Christmas because they could enjoy Clausmas without any religious meaning.
Muslims might like the giving associated with Clausmas because giving is one of their Five Pillars. There would seem to be no reason why Hindus and Buddhists could not celebrate Clausmas.
People of any religion and of no religion could celebrate Clausmas. There could be a worldwide phenomenon.
Substituting Clausmas for Christmas in many settings should not be too difficult because the words are similar, and much of the celebration of Christmas is already secular. Would it not be easy, for example, to dream of a white Clausmas?
Matthew and Luke say nothing about snow in their accounts of the birth of Jesus, but we easily associate snow with Santa and his workshop at the North Pole. People could happily say that they would be home for Clausmas.
We could give Clausmas gifts. The name of Christmas would still be used whenever it would be religiously appropriate.
What if everyone decided to celebrate Clausmas and greet one another with “Merry Clausmas”?
Then Christians might adjust their own greetings since Merry Christmas has not been an appropriate biblical greeting anyway.
According to Luke, the angelic announcement to the shepherds of Jesus’ birth was not, “Merry Christmas!” The announcement was of great joy for all people.
Why have Christians (except perhaps the French) not said, “Joyous Christmas”? Christians would be closer to the Bible if they did and then let anyone who wanted to, say: “Merry Clausmas!”
Would there be difficulty in basing a holiday on a fairy tale? Is there really a jolly old man at the North Pole who employs elves in a toy workshop? Do reindeer jump into the air and soar through the sky on one magical night each year?
People around the world love fairy tales — and Santa Claus is one of the greatest. The only big objection that I see to celebrating Clausmas is that it is such a sensible idea.
People are so used to having things muddled that they can be suspicious of anything that sounds reasonable. But there is no trick. Clausmas would absorb the commercialization of Christmas or at least the huge part that has nothing to do with Jesus.
Advertisers could go wild while Christians, along with anyone else who wants to, could focus on the original meaning of Christmas.
In fact, I think that we may be headed for Clausmas whether there is a campaign for it or not. It might take a little while to get used to the word, but it sounds fine to me.
So “Merry Clausmas, everyone!”
And, to my Christian friends, “Joyous Christmas!” BT
—E. B. (Ben) Self of Hopkinsville, Ky., is the author of Ways of Thinking About God: The Bible, Philosophy, and Science (Nurturing Faith, 2013)