Reviews

|

When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’

If history is any guide, there’s no escaping the hostilities that erupt every December.
When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
Image: Smileus / Shutterstock
Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Book Title
Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday
Author
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Release Date
October 13, 2016
Pages
312
Price
$22.44
Buy Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday from Amazon

There is no easier way for politicians or pundits to rally the base this time of year than hyping the “War on Christmas” by liberal elites. Donald Trump’s son Eric told evangelist James Robison in an August interview that one reason Trump decided to run for president was because the White House “Christmas tree” was now called the “holiday tree.” (Multiple outlets noted that no such change had occurred.)

Hostility toward Christmas, Santa Claus, and the Christmas tree has a long history, as does disgust with the holiday’s appropriation by politicians, marketers, and lobbyists. Gerry Bowler’s often hilarious, sometimes tedious Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday (Oxford University Press) chronicles a mind-boggling array of conflicts stretching from the ancient world to today. Ever ready with wry zingers for Christmas’s legions of opponents or another quote illustrating the quixotic zeal of its appropriators, at times Bowler gives the impression of someone who loves his subject a little too much.

Bowler begins with the fascinating history of how the early church chose December 25 as the day to observe Christmas. The Bible gives little guidance, and Bowler is not convinced by the common argument that the church just decided to Christianize a pagan holiday. Instead, he attributes the date to obscure assumptions the early church made about the timing of Jesus’s conception, and the belief that great people sometimes died on the same date they were conceived (around mid-March, in Jesus’s case). Still, Christmas’s proximity to older pagan festivals would plague its reputation ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Browse All Book Reviews By:
December
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Christianity Today
When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2016

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.