Every year around this time, I hear the same Christmas myths over and over, repeated by people who honestly believe them. They show up in my Facebook feed, in conversations with friends, and in public discourse.
So let’s put these 6 myths to rest, shall we?
Myth #1: According to the Bible, baby Jesus was visited in the manger by three kings.
Nope. All those nativity scenes are wrong. The Bible story says that a group of magi, or wise men, visited Jesus as a child in his house—long after his birth—bringing three gifts. But the story doesn’t say how many wise men there were, and they were more likely astrologers, not kings.
Myth #2: Candy canes were invented as a secret Christian symbol.
Have you heard the story about the candy cane? See, it’s a “J” for “Jesus,” and the red and white stripes represent blood and purity, and…
Nope. It’s all a lie. While there are certainly modern-day Christians who have repurposed the candy cane as a Christian symbol, it’s not true that it was invented for that reason. Snopes.com has a pretty thorough article on this.
Myth #3: The “12 Days of Christmas” song also has a hidden Christian message.
Sorry, but this one isn’t true either. This is another great read on Snopes, where I learned something I didn’t know: Apparently the fourth gift was originally “colly birds,” meaning blackbirds, not “calling birds,” as many of us learned it. Some scholars have even suggested that the “gold rings” were also supposed to be a reference to a type of bird, so that the first seven gifts were all birds—though that’s apparently in dispute.
Anyway, it’s not an encoded message, but it’s still a fun song. The Muppets’ version is my favorite.
Myth #4: It’s hard to be a Christian in America at Christmas, because no one wants to admit the spiritual significance of the holiday.
As a Christian, I just don’t buy this. Yes, there’s consumerism and Santa Claus. Yes, there are some anti-Christian messages too. But if you just look around, there are people everywhere talking about Jesus at Christmas. Even secular radio stations and popular malls play religious Christmas carols this time of year: “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”—I’ve heard all of these out in public in the last few days.
Even Walt Disney World, our #1 tourist destination, brings in celebrity narrators all month long to read the story of Jesus’ birth—from the Bible!—as a choir sings about Jesus. At Disney World.
So I don’t buy this whole Christian oppression stuff. Yes, it’s hard to focus on the faith message in the midst of all the consumerism, but let’s not pretend that’s the same as oppression. It’s way harder to be an American who doesn’t celebrate Christmas—for religious or other reasons—than it is to be a Christian who does.
Myth #5: If you say “Happy Holidays” or write “Merry Xmas,” you’re declaring “war on Christmas.”
I actually wrote a whole blog post about this: The Made-Up War. The “war on Christmas” is a lie, and the abbreviation “Xmas” is actually a Christian one. Don’t believe me? Give it a read.
Myth #6: Having an “Elf on the Shelf” isn’t creepy.
Uhhhh… It’s creepy, you guys. Just look:
It’s even creepier because it reminds me of this thing:
Run away! Run away!
Merry Christmas, everyone!