It’s hard to imagine that there’s such a thing as a ridiculous Christmas controversy. After all, isn’t Christmas supposed to be a holiday of peace and harmony (and all sorts of other good stuff)? Apparently not. As you will see here in a minute, Christmas has been one of the most controversial holidays around. From the War on Christmas to Starbucks cups, some of these controversies are so insane, you might not see Christmas the same way ever again. Seriously. So, strap on your Christmas hat and play your favorite Christmas song because you’re about to see some of the most ridiculous Christmas controversies that actually happened.
The First Christmas Controversy
Let’s begin our list with the very first Christmas controversy in history. This might come as a bit of a surprise but the first Christmas controversy was initiated by non-other than Christians. Their gripe was not a perceived “War on Christmas” (as you will read about later) but rather they were the ones who initiated the “war” which even included legal penalties! It all started in the 17th century when Puritans rebelled against King Charles I (and won). The resulting Puritan government then proceeded to ban Christmas. Puritans believed the holiday to be a heretical practice rooted in a pagan origin. When the Puritans canceled Christmas, they forbade traditional Christmas expressions, shops were ordered to stay open, churches were shut down and ministers were arrested for preaching on Christmas Day!
War on Christmas
Probably the most widespread Christmas controversy of them all has been labeled “The War on Christmas,” a term that you have probably heard by now, I’m sure. This holiday war started with the Puritans (see point #1). In this day and age, however, the war on Christmas started with a 2005 book by radio host, John Gibson entitled, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.”
The book alleged that there was a liberal antagonism toward the holiday. This was further exacerbated by Fox News’ host Bill O’ Reilly who went on to accuse liberals of “tying the Christmas situation into secular progressive politics.” In essence, some people believe there is a systematic attempt to eliminate anything that is remotely religious from Christmas.
In particular, some Christians believe Christ is being taken out of Christmas and Donald Trump has used this “War on Christmas” as an example and a political promise to bring back Christmas. The problem is that Christmas never left. There is no evidence of an organized attack on Christmas in the United States. Christmas is a holiday like any other holiday and is celebrated differently by many people who share many backgrounds and many beliefs.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
In one of the most recent controversies surrounding Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was labeled as a “seriously problematic” show. In an article released by the Huffington Post, this timeless classic was criticized for the reindeer’s marginalization and bullying by Santa and the other reindeers. Who would have thought right?
However, the controversy does not seem to have hurt the show’s favorable standing with the masses. A recent poll found that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was among the most beloved Christmas movies with 83% of participants finding it favorable.
There are many characters associated with Christmas stories. However, one character has proven to be particularly offensive. Black Pete is a character associated with the Christmas holidays in the Netherlands who often accompanies their version of Santa Claus. He is usually represented with a black face and curly black hair. Opponents argue that the character is filled with offensive racial undertones. The portrayal is part of a historically negative stereotype of Black people dating back to colonialism, including, “portraying Black people as stupid, lazy, and uncivilized caricatures for entertainment.”
Polar Bear Cookies
We’ve already talked about the controversy surrounding Starbucks’ Christmas cups. But cups are not the only controversial things Starbucks has had to deal with. In 2015, the coffee giant unveiled polar bear red-scarfed cookies, which sound innocent enough. However, some people mistook the red scarf on the polar bears with blood. Needless to say, the imagery of a white polar bear and a bloody neck disturbed quite a few people. Do you think people’s reaction to this cookie was exaggerated?