1843 : First Commercial Christmas Card Sent

December 23, 2011 by staff 

1843 : First Commercial Christmas Card Sent1843 : First Commercial Christmas Card Sent, It’s now officially too late to do your Christmas shopping early. That’s OK. Doing your Christmas shopping late counts, too. Remember, it’s not the thought behind the gift that counts; it’s what you spend on it. Oh, I imagine you Xmasologists out there are offended by such crass materialism. You say that Christmas should be all about the birth of Christ and we should walk around looking pious.

I say that’s nonsense.

Historically, you could even argue that the ultra-religious Christmas is un-American. The Pilgrims certainly thought so.

Like the English Parliament of that time, they considered the holiday a “popish” festival that lacked any “biblical justification.” As a matter of fact, Christmas was banned in Boston for a time in the 1600s, as though it were a dirty book.

I happen to be an expert on secular Christmas. I was born on Christmas Day into a family of non-believers and grew up thinking that they decorated the lampposts in downtown Detroit in my honor. Imagine my shock when I discovered that somebody had gotten there before me. I never held it against him, however – which is why I’ve never participated in the Christmas wars that swirl around the holiday every year. Non-Christians, many of them claiming to be liberals, rail against the placing of Nativity scenes in public places or the singing of carols in schools. They go to court to block such activities, arguing that they violate the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment. Picky, picky, picky.

I tend to side with the religionists in these matters. I doubt whether the founding fathers had Christmas decorations in mind when they created the church-state separation. Christmas simply wasn’t that big a deal in those days.

The dating of Christ’s birth is arbitrary, in any case. There’s virtually no evidence that December 25 is the actual birth date of Jesus of Nazareth. (The New Testament, for example, makes no mention of a date.) It’s more likely that the 25th was chosen because it coincides with the Roman winter solstice, the day when winter begins to recede and the full light of day begins its return journey.

In other words, it’s a festival of lights, and that’s the way I choose to celebrate it. If some choose to celebrate something else, so be it.

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