I brought my children up not believe what people told them without checking the facts themselves. I'm glad to see that my eldest son at least was listening. Over on his blog he does a pretty good job of debunking the impression that the secular world is out to destroy Christmas.
In my view just the opposite is occurring. Christmas has become a very secular holiday. The retail industry does a huge proportion of its business during the Christmas shopping period, and, whatever they say, it shows little sign of diminishing. Of course they won't get rid of Christmas. "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" represent a PC attempt to avoid giving offence by mentally challenged individuals who know next to nothing about any religion, but the number of people who really want to take religion out of Christmas is vanishingly small. They hit the headlines on slow news days.
Christmas in the West is full of recent accretions to a schmalzy version of the Nativity. The following played no part in the original Christmas story: Santa Claus, the Grinch, Jack Frost, Father Christmas, Rudolf, Jingling bells, 3 kings, camels, Kris Kringle, children, Bing Crosby, snow, sleighs, reindeer, Scrooge, pipers piping, Tiny Tim, 34th Street, Snowmen, fir trees, turkeys, mince pies, plum puddings, tinsel, pumpkins, Chestnut Stuffing, mulled wine or alcohol of any sort, colored glass balls, carols, holly, ivy, merry gentlemen, stable, December 25th, mistletoe, Slade, innkeepers, stockings, cards, nuts, chocolates, dates, cakes, three ships, figs, colored lights, oxen, donkeys, little drummer boys, scarlet ribbons, berries, Morcombe & Wise, robins, Frosty, Elves, The North Pole, Polar Express, Partridges, The Nutcracker, Mother Goose, Babes in the Wood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Alladin, Egg Nog, Hershey's Kisses, Yukon Cornelius, Home Alone, The Queen, Crackers, paper hats and Robin Goodfellow.
Angels were there and so were shepherds. Magi eventually turned up following a star. Nothing is said regarding the mode of transport of either the Magi or Mary. There were three gifts which makes people think there werte three Magi, but all we know is that they were plural. The inn is a mistranslation. Elsewhere the Greek is translated as 'the upper room'. In the house downstairs the animals lived, but we don't know what sort of animals they were. The manger (feeding trough) was probably made of stone not wood. Herod had all the babies younger than two slaughtered, so the magi finally arrived any time up to two years after the birth. Biblical scholars have calculated the birth date as 23rd September 4BC, but I doubt anybody could be that precise. Martin Luther was overegging it to say of the baby Jesus, "No crying he made." There were a lot of dreams.
The Puritans baned Christmas in England, though it didn't last for long. Later they banned it in America.
I like Christmas, despite the extras clinging to it like barnacles. They represent the artistic impressions of Christmas added by countless generations. Of course they are often fairly trivial, and individually we could do without this or that, but about this time of year when the tree is decorated and a CD of carols is playing on the Hi-Fi, and presents are being wrapped, and neigbors drop in, and children are excited, and the streets are festooned with lights, suddenly there is a moment of silence and we remember that God became Man at Bethlehem specifically to die in our place. Facing certain destruction we are suddenly rescued. No wonder we rejoice.