Speaker says ‘no thanks’ to Christmas

It is only a matter of weeks before stores are filled with frantic moms and angry store clerks, but for many, the Christmas season is a magical season.

Tom Flynn, author of “The Trouble with Christmas,” spoke to AU students about the beloved holiday and the fallacies that created it.

AU Rationalists and Atheists, an organization created last year to represent non-faith, according to the President Mathew Bulger, sponsored the guest speaker.

Flynn has not celebrated the jolly holiday since 1984. Flynn’s lack of holiday cheer and unwillingness to participate in the festivities led to a book deal in 1993, he said.

“I wrote it in hopes of constructing a coherent narrative of how the very dated cultural train wreck came to be,” Flynn said. “In part I wrote it to show my fellow nonbelievers ... how much they have to gain in firmly saying ‘No thanks, I’ll pass’ at holiday time.”

Christmas is just another day for him, he said.

“Come Dec. 25, I’ll be behind my desk ... there will be few interruptions,” he said. I’ll get a lot done, although sometimes it’s difficult to find somewhere to go to lunch.”

Christmas was not always the widely-practiced holiday that it is today, he said.

Oliver Cromwell, an English political and military leader in the 1600s, eliminated Christmas under his puritanical rule.

“Opposing the holiday wasn’t always unpopular,” Flynn said. “By the turn of the 18th century, the entire English speaking world became Yule-free.”

Several influential Victorians, including Washington Irving, Charles Dickinson, Queen Victoria, Clement C. Moore, Thomas Nast and Francis Church, can be credited with putting forth the common ideas and practices of today’s Christmas, Flynn said.

“The holiday that Christians celebrate ... is a revival or rather reanimation that only took place in England and the United States during the Victorian era,” he said. “Christmas as we know it is not a universal western holiday, not even a broadly European holiday.”

To Flynn, it is not important to celebrate a holiday at Christmas time. He argued the Muslims do not celebrate a winter holiday.

“To my mind if Jesus Christ is not your savior, Christmas is not your holiday,” he said.

You can reach this writer at news@theeagleonline.com.

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