Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Rush to Defend "Christmas," Reporter Ignores Pagan Influences That He Focused on at Halloween

Originally published at Free Tennessee:

WRKN reporter Jamey Tucker filed a story on October 30 about the "pagan roots" of Halloween. In and of itself, his story would be a non-starter, except that Mr. Tucker has lately shown a tendency to take up the "Christmas" mantle in the perennial culture war over words used to describe the holiday season. That indicates that the reporter may lack an even hand when dealing with volatile cultural issues involving holiday observances. He is entitled to call the holiday season anything he wants, but one would think that the intellectual honesty of a journalist would require him to file a story on the pagan roots of Christmas just as he has on those of Halloween, if for no other reason that it is conventional to gloss over the pagan roots of a seemingly Christian holiday.

Mr. Tucker has yet to note the probable ties between Christmas and the seasonally-structured practices of gift-giving, role reversals, and feasting of earlier pagan observances in Ancient Greece, Imperial Rome, Indo-Iranian Mithra, and pre-Jewish Canaanite religions. Granted, the possible pagan roots of Christmas do not stir the same negative emotions that Halloween (Christianized as All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day) does among Tucker’s favored target audience of conservative evangelicals in their ironic Holy War against the word "holiday"; but we are bound to point out that there is little difference between the trick-or-treat ritual of keeping food on hand to appease evil spirits and caroling at Christmas to ward off evil spirits.

It is entirely fair to ask that Mr. Tucker bracket his personal concerns about making sure that that "Christmas" does not get called "Holiday," so as to give more journalistic attention, for instance, to the ancient pagan rituals of decking houses with evergreens, which was a magical representation of fertility, and which transferred into the American practice of erecting Christmas Trees, which Mr. Tucker himself now defends against so-called "political correctness." It is one thing to guard Christianized rituals from pagan influences; it is quite another to privilege some Christianized rituals over others under the pretense of journalistic evenhandedness.

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