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Religion Column

January 4, 2014

Christmas didn't end on December 26

On Dec. 26, just after the alarm went off around 6 a.m., I turned on the TV to catch the morning news. I happened to choose WBNG-Binghamton that morning. 

Imagine my shock, having just celebrated the first day of Christmass, to hear the news anchor announce, in no uncertain terms, “Now that Christmas is over,” and go on to tell viewers how to get rid of their Christmas trees!

OK, I understand he was just doing a community service, and that various jurisdictions had set up tree collections soon after Dec. 25. Still, as a pastor who encourages the celebration of the full 12 days of Christmass and then Epiphany, it was disconcerting to hear a well-meaning but ill-informed newsman tell his listeners that the whole thing was over, done, finished. Time to take down the tree, pack away the decorations and turn off the lights!

Later that day, I called the station. The morning anchor was long since gone, but a pleasant yet argumentative young man answered the phone. When I told him I was calling to let them know the morning guy was “factually inaccurate,” he got defensive. 

“Well,” he said confidently, “for most people, Christmas IS over!” 

I acknowledged that, in the secular way of thinking, many people start “getting ready” at Halloween (or before!) and are ready for it be done soon after Dec. 25, but for Christians (and the vast majority of the country still claims Christian faith) Christmass begins Dec. 25 and lasts a full 12 days. 

Had he ever heard of the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” I asked? In his best newsman tone, he harrumphed, “we don’t go by a Christmas carol; we go by the calendar!” 

I mentioned that my family will keep its Christmas tree up through January (at least until Feb. 2 — Groundhog’s Day, but in the church known as Candlemass and also The Presentation of Our Lord, see Luke 2). He “tsked tsked” that it was “dangerous” to keep up trees too long, as they could be a fire hazard and gave off allergens! 

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