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Old 12-15-2019, 02:59 PM
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Christmas a National Holiday?


Why is Christmas a national holiday in the USA? I mean what is the logic? No other Christian holiday is a federal holiday. Easter Monday is a holiday in Canada. But not here. The Feast of St. John the Baptist? St. Swithin's Day?

And what about other religions FTM? Passover? Ramadan? The Hindu Festival of Lights?

And since this is GD, I also have to ask. Should it be a national holiday?

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Old 12-15-2019, 03:12 PM
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It's a holiday in the United States because so many people celebrate it and would want a day off anyway.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:24 PM
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It's a national holiday in India too. Go figure.

As for how it should be dealt with... there are many possible religious holidays; one proposal is not to make any of them compulsory, instead to let each individual pick their own, up to a certain maximum, that way offices should be able to stay open most of the time if there are enough diverse personnel.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:28 PM
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Why is Christmas a national holiday in the USA? I mean what is the logic? No other Christian holiday is a federal holiday. Easter Monday is a holiday in Canada. But not here. The Feast of St. John the Baptist? St. Swithin's Day?

And what about other religions FTM? Passover? Ramadan? The Hindu Festival of Lights?

And since this is GD, I also have to ask. Should it be a national holiday?

It's a relatively recent change as well - for a long time, Christmas was not an official holiday at all in Massachusetts for example (that changed in 1856)
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:33 PM
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It is of course not a national holiday in Thailand. But when I worked at the Bangkok Post, but the were so many Western staff that the newspaper treated it as a paid holiday if it fell during the week. That was a nice gesture.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:35 PM
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1856 is not a date most of us would consider relatively recent.

Well what are the legal consequences of something being a National Holiday? What does it legally affect other than federal employees?
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:37 PM
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It’s one of the two days the worldwide futures markets are almost completely closed as well.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:45 PM
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Some facts, courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Federal holidays in the United States:

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Congress has authority to create holidays only for federal institutions (including federally owned properties) and employees, and for the District of Columbia. However, as a general rule other institutions, including banks, post offices, and schools, may be closed on those days.
Quote:
Although many states recognize most or all federal holidays as state holidays, the Federal government cannot enact laws to compel them to do so. Furthermore, states can recognize other days as state holidays that are not federal holidays.
Quote:
Private employers also cannot be required to observe federal or state holidays, the key exception being federally chartered banks.
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In December 1999, the Western Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in the case Ganulin vs. United States, denied the charge that Christmas Day's federal status violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, ruling that "the Christmas holiday has become largely secularized", and that "by giving federal employees a paid vacation day on Christmas, the government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday".
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:47 PM
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It's so popular that most non-Christians I know celebrate it in one form or another. My high school was about 60% Jewish, and Yom Kippur and Rosh Hoshanah were always official school days off.
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Old 12-15-2019, 05:11 PM
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Pretty much every culture has a holiday around the winter solstice time.
The Romans had Saturnalia, ancient Egypt had Birth of Heru (Horus), ancient Greeks had the Great Dionysia Festival, Jews had Hanukkah, Druids had the Winter Festival, the Celtic tribes had Yuletide, etc.

And many new religions just carried on the holidays, renaming them or re-defining them to honor the latest god they were celebrating. Christianity just kind of did the same; Christ was not actually born at Christmas time, for example, it is just celebrated then. (Rather like the British Empire has a Queen's Birthday celebration in June, months away from Queen Elizabeth's actual birthday.)
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Old 12-15-2019, 05:19 PM
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And since this is GD, I also have to ask. Should it be a national holiday?
I like Christmas. I don't worship the Baby Jesus (or any other mythical creature), but the secular Christmas spirit is a nice thing to have around once a year. Besides, we don't have enough holidays, and shopping is always better afterwards.
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Old 12-15-2019, 06:27 PM
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If voters want it to be a holiday, it should be a holiday.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:09 PM
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Just to add Thanksgiving has been established nationally to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. So Christmas is not the only national holiday directly that has to do with God.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:16 PM
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1856 is not a date most of us would consider relatively recent.
It's surprisingly recent for people who imagine that Christmas was a governmentally sanctioned holiday back to the colonial days (and I suspect there are a lot of those). In 1856, my great-grandfather was alive, so it's not that far away for me, either.

At any rate, I have no objection to Christmas being a national holiday - people aren't going to show up to work anyway (I grew up in Pennsylvania, where the first day of deer season was a school holiday for much the same reason).
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:35 PM
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There are exactly zero national holidays in the United States. Congress can create federal holidays—days that federal government offices are closed. But that means nothing for private employers or state government offices. They can choose whether to give their employees the same days off or not.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:38 PM
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Don't be such a Grinch OP.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:45 PM
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Why is Christmas a national holiday in the USA? I mean what is the logic? No other Christian holiday is a federal holiday.
I live in Canada and assure you Easter Monday is not a holiday here. Good Friday is.

Christmas is usually a holiday because historically everyone wanted it to be and now everyone expects it to be. It's no more complicated than that.
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Old 12-15-2019, 09:30 PM
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Nothing is so sacred in Australia as the sanctity of a holiday long weekend and so we have Good Friday and Easter Monday as gazetted public holidays in all states.

I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
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Old 12-15-2019, 09:33 PM
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I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
It is (by Christians), it's just not a federal holiday.
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:12 PM
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I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
It's on a Sunday, which is already a day off.
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:59 PM
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I live in Canada and assure you Easter Monday is not a holiday here. Good Friday is.
Good Friday and Easter Monday are federal stat holidays for the federal public service.

https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/remune...y-pay-eng.html
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:02 PM
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Most employers allow time off for religious holidays so if you had one you could ask.
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:10 PM
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Christmas is one of only two holidays the grocery workers union here have managed to convince the supermarkets to close so that no one has to work. The other one is. . . July 4 (surprise!)

Of course many businesses and institutions are 24/7 and someone has to work. When I was in broadcasting, I was that one person who worked at least a half-shift on every single holiday* for 4 1/2 years.

*I got New Year's Day off the fourth year. It felt so wrong I went back to working holidays.
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:36 PM
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Pretty much every culture has a holiday around the winter solstice time.
Well yeah, pretty much every culture has lots of holidays scattered throughout the year. And winter's a pretty good time for one in an agricultural society, since you won't be doing a bunch of work around then, and you probably won't have eaten through your stores yet. Not everyone regards their own midwinter festival as the big important one that everyone cares about though
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Old 12-16-2019, 12:32 AM
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Nothing is so sacred in Australia as the sanctity of a holiday long weekend and so we have Good Friday and Easter Monday as gazetted public holidays in all states.

I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
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It's on a Sunday, which is already a day off.
But Good Friday or Easter Monday could be days off, as in Australia so people could have a three or four day weekend. Other federal holidays, such as George Washington's birthday and Memorial Day have been standardized as falling on a Monday. And though not an official holiday, many employers give their workers the day after Thanksgiving (Friday) off because they know people won't be coming into work anyway.
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Old 12-16-2019, 10:43 AM
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In the US, Christmas is a secular holiday which just happens to share a name and date with a religious holiday celebrated by some Christians.
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Old 12-16-2019, 10:47 AM
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Just to add Thanksgiving has been established nationally to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. So Christmas is not the only national holiday directly that has to do with God.
it never started as having to do with God. It was a saturnalia, sun didn't die holiday and the church co-opted it. imho.
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Old 12-16-2019, 10:56 AM
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The real test of a holiday for New Yorkers is “Do I have to move my car”. And the holiday list is extremely inclusive, including not only Christian, Islamic and Jewish holidays, but also Diwali and Lunar New Year.

https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/m...ng.shtml#cal20
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:08 AM
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Just to add Thanksgiving has been established nationally to give thanks to our Heavenly Father.
I believe you are mistaken here. AFAIK, Thanksgiving is a day to eat turkey and watch football.

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And what about other religions FTM?
I give up. I tried searching, but the only FTM I could find was gender related.
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:18 AM
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Pretty much every culture has a holiday around the winter solstice time.
The Romans had Saturnalia, ancient Egypt had Birth of Heru (Horus), ancient Greeks had the Great Dionysia Festival, Jews had Hanukkah, Druids had the Winter Festival, the Celtic tribes had Yuletide, etc.
Yuletide is very much Germanic and not at all Celtic. Deleted snarky comment about cultural appropriation.
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:27 AM
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I give up. I tried searching, but the only FTM I could find was gender related.
For That Matter, I expect.

Christmas is a national holiday because everyone wants to take Christmas off. I don't think it is an establishment of religion to give everybody the day off because some want to celebrate for religious reasons. If the government said you had to go to church on your day off, that would be an establishment.

Merry Christmas Regards,
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Old 12-16-2019, 12:32 PM
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Why is Christmas a national holiday in the USA? I mean what is the logic? No other Christian holiday is a federal holiday.
It's more a secular holiday than a religious one. For example, Rudolph, Santa, Frosty, etc are all more common than the baby Jesus, and creche scenes are limited by law and court decisions.

Listen to Christmas songs sometime: about 50% secular , 40% seasonal, and maybe 10% religious, mostly Little Drummer boy and Silent Night.

People of all religions celebrate Christmas.
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Old 12-16-2019, 12:37 PM
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it never started as having to do with God. It was a saturnalia, sun didn't die holiday and the church co-opted it. imho.
Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with saturnalia.


https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=886745
Ok, around now we read or hear this meme - on FB, here maybe or anywhere around the internet or even radio or TV:

"Jesus wasnt born on Dec 25. The ancient Christians picked that day to compete with the ancient Roman Mitraic Holiday of Saturnalia, also celebrated on Dec 25. Saturnalia was a time of great merryment, with gift giving, parties and everything we associate with Christmas. Note the Similarity with the Solstice, "the celebration the Sun reborn" vs "the celebration the Son reborn"!"

It's all wrong and all bullshit- except maybe the part about "Jesus wasnt born on Dec 25" because honestly we have no idea.

Saturnalia wasnt about Mitra, it was about (oddly, eh) Saturn. It wasnt celebrated on Dec 25, but the 17th (however, the Roman calendar being what it was, things moved about). Yes, as Wiki puts it: "The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves as it was seen as a time of liberty for both slaves and freedmen alike.[1] A common custom was the election of a "King of the Saturnalia", who would give orders to people, which were to be followed and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days".[2]" Note the types of gifts. Saturnalia was more Mardi gras.

Then, if you were gonna compete with a Dec 17th holiday, you wouldnt pick Dec 25th. But altho the ancient Christian picked Dec 25th in the 3rd century , calling it "celebrating" would be a gross exaggeration. It was a "feast day" which all you catholic know, has nothing actually to do with feasting. The person (usually a saint) whose day it is remembered on their individual feast days with special mention, prayers, and possibly a scripture reading. Not until the time of Charlemagne , many hundreds of years later, (and after saturnalia hadnt been celebrated for over 500 years) was Christmas actually a time for merrymaking. So, the Christians didnt pick Dec 25th to "compete' with saturnalia (which was dying out by that time anyway) as a riotous fun day of drinking, gambling and foolishness is not gonna be outdone by a day of quiet prayer and maybe lighting a candle. Easter was the big holiday, Christmas was pretty small potatoes.

As for that the celebration the Sun reborn" vs "the celebration the Son reborn"!", that pun only works in English, otherwise it's sol and filius. The Roman version of the cult of Mitra came after Christianity, and it was a secret cult in any case (what we know about it for sure wouldnt fill a small pamphlet).And the Solstice is the 21st, not the 25th (to be sure, the Roman calendar was off by several days so stuff moved around).

Why did they pick the 25th? A very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was given the news she would bear the baby Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th - and it's still celebrated today on same day. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th of December. March 25th was also the day that Jesus died on when he was an adult. Numerology. It kinda makes sense. But it was backwards calculation, not "Hey, lets compete with saturnalia!". Mind you, Dec 25th is likely wrong, but it's as good as any other day, so why not?

So, dont believe the UL. Mind you, many Christmas traditions- holly, mistletoe, wreaths, the tree, yule logs and what not were folk (or even (shhh) pagan ) traditions we appropriated. So there is a little element of Yule in there. But no Saturnalia.

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Old 12-16-2019, 12:42 PM
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Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with saturnalia.
The post you quoted was replying to a post about Thanksgiving. Was SuntanLotion claiming that Thanksgiving started out as a saturnalia?
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Old 12-16-2019, 12:49 PM
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The post you quoted was replying to a post about Thanksgiving. Was SuntanLotion claiming that Thanksgiving started out as a saturnalia?

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Originally Posted by kanicbird
Just to add Thanksgiving has been established nationally to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. So Christmas is not the only national holiday directly that has to do with God.

SuntanLotion "it never started as having to do with God. It was a saturnalia, sun didn't die holiday and the church co-opted it. imho."
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I believe SuntanLotion is replying to the second sentence, not the first.
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Old 12-16-2019, 03:28 PM
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Christmas is one of only two holidays the grocery workers union here have managed to convince the supermarkets to close so that no one has to work. The other one is. . . July 4 (surprise!)

Of course many businesses and institutions are 24/7 and someone has to work. When I was in broadcasting, I was that one person who worked at least a half-shift on every single holiday* for 4 1/2 years.

*I got New Year's Day off the fourth year. It felt so wrong I went back to working holidays.
Many supermarkets are closed on Christmas, but by no means all.
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Old 12-16-2019, 04:31 PM
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It's a relatively recent change as well - for a long time, Christmas was not an official holiday at all in Massachusetts for example (that changed in 1856)
Right. In my Christian tradition, Christmas is not a Christian Holiday. Easter is a Christian Holy Day. Where Massachusetts and I break with our puritan background is that we don't mind having a secular holiday in the middle of (it's summer here where I live).

Last edited by Melbourne; 12-16-2019 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:33 AM
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I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
AFAIK the USA has an above-average number of Christians who don't really believe in the concept of a "Christian calendar" at all. Their ancestors were never able to squelch out Christmas and Easter completely, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 12-17-2019 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:38 AM
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I am very surprised to learn that Easter isn't celebrated in the US given it's arguably a more significant day in the Christian calendar than Christmas.
It is celebrated, but since it falls on a Sunday, it's not a day off.
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Old 12-17-2019, 03:53 AM
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As others point out, in the religion which considers Easter Sunday significant, it is already a day off because it is ... Sunday! (You could argue that the Resurrection is celebrated 52 times a year!) Many businesses gave a half-day off on the Friday preceding Easter.

What holidays are celebrated by the most countries? New Years (also a stand-in for the winter solstice?) is #1, and Christmas #2, I think. If fixed solar-calendar dates are stipulated then Islamic (lunar-calendar) holidays and the Tet New Year are out, and the First of May (Labor Day) is surely #3.

But which date is #4 for most-countries holiday? I think the main possibilities are November 1, November 11, December 26, and December 31.

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... Christ was not actually born at Christmas time ...
Cite?
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:44 AM
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People of all religions celebrate Christmas.
Anecdotally: to my personal experience, it is completely unremarkable for local Jewish folks to put up a Christmas tree in their homes and businesses. Sample size is not huge -- three homes, and maybe eight or nine businesses.

I can imagine that this is less common in areas where Jewish cultural roots run deeper. Out of curiosity ... would it be surprising for a Reform Jewish family living in, say, New York City to have a Christmas tree in their home? My assumption is that this would not be done in an Orthodox home.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:47 AM
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Many supermarkets are closed on Christmas, but by no means all.
Around here, major grocery stores are typically open until early afternoon -- 2 p.m. or thereabouts.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:51 AM
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As others point out, in the religion which considers Easter Sunday significant, it is already a day off because it is ... Sunday! (You could argue that the Resurrection is celebrated 52 times a year!) Many businesses gave a half-day off on the Friday preceding Easter.
I always thought it was because of the heavy Catholic influence in New Orleans ... but it is common (though not invariable) for private businesses in this area to be closed on Good Friday. My memory is that it is typically a half-day for many municipal offices, parish & city government offices, etc.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by kanicbird
Just to add Thanksgiving has been established nationally to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. So Christmas is not the only national holiday directly that has to do with God.

SuntanLotion "it never started as having to do with God. It was a saturnalia, sun didn't die holiday and the church co-opted it. imho."
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I believe SuntanLotion is replying to the second sentence, not the first.
Online now. I had read that somewhere (I read a lot so not sure Where) that Christmas was originally a pagan celebration and the church decided to make it about Jesus.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:08 AM
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I always thought it was because of the heavy Catholic influence in New Orleans ... but it is common (though not invariable) for private businesses in this area to be closed on Good Friday. My memory is that it is typically a half-day for many municipal offices, parish & city government offices, etc.
It's not just LA. I have worked for about ten companies in my life, in MD and TX, and have always had Good Friday as a paid holiday.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:09 AM
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Anecdotally: to my personal experience, it is completely unremarkable for local Jewish folks to put up a Christmas tree in their homes and businesses. Sample size is not huge -- three homes, and maybe eight or nine businesses.

I can imagine that this is less common in areas where Jewish cultural roots run deeper. Out of curiosity ... would it be surprising for a Reform Jewish family living in, say, New York City to have a Christmas tree in their home? My assumption is that this would not be done in an Orthodox home.
Growing up we had a xmas tree, and my mom lit her menorah candles. My mom was Jewish, but nonobservant and my dad was christian but nonobservant. As a family we believed in Santa Claus but not Jesus.

We lived in a neighborhood that was 98% Jewish. Nobody I knew had an xmas tree, but none of my friends were freaked out by mine.
  #47  
Old 12-17-2019, 12:42 PM
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Some of the credit probably belongs to Charles Dickens. If a hugely popular book that redefines how everyone thinks of Christmas comes out and says that only greedy evil employers would make their employees work on Christmas, then the federal government might take notice.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim@T-Bonham.net View Post
... Christianity just kind of did the same; Christ was not actually born at Christmas time, for example, it is just celebrated then. .
Probably not, I concur. They backfigured from when they thought he was crucified (and that date is likely correct) or the Annunciation.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:17 PM
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Online now. I had read that somewhere (I read a lot so not sure Where) that Christmas was originally a pagan celebration and the church decided to make it about Jesus.
Yes, it's a common UL, but it's false. Nothing whatsoever to do with saturnalia. Maybe some sort of competition with the Mithra cult, but I dont think so.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:19 PM
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Anecdotally: to my personal experience, it is completely unremarkable for local Jewish folks to put up a Christmas tree in their homes and businesses. Sample size is not huge -- three homes, and maybe eight or nine businesses.

I can imagine that this is less common in areas where Jewish cultural roots run deeper. Out of curiosity ... would it be surprising for a Reform Jewish family living in, say, New York City to have a Christmas tree in their home? My assumption is that this would not be done in an Orthodox home.
My brother (raised Reform Jewish in the northeast) moved to Alabama where his wife (raised ultra Reform Jewish in Alabama) is from. They have a tree. They take pictures with Santa. The rest of our family is astonished but accepting.

I don't know any Reform Jews raised here in the northeast that have a Christmas tree in their house unless the family is a mixed marriage, like mine. It never would occur to me or my sister, and even now I feel a little odd seeing Santas scattered about the house. None of my other relatives have a tree, and we are varying degrees of observant.
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