If non-believers are to do away with the term ‘Christmas’ simply because they do not believe in the religious significance behind the word, then there are plenty of other words which we ought to rid ourselves of
Even though I’m not religious, I have no problem wishing people a Merry Christmas. Equally, I’m perfectly happy to wish people a happy Hanukkah, Diwali or Eid, as appropriate. They are all festivals whose culture can be enjoyed whether or not you subscribe to the religious traditions from which they originate.
No Christmas season ever seems to be complete without some (usually entirely invented) story to the effect that someone is trying to ban use of the word “Christmas”, in the name of multiculturalism, and is insisting on “Winterval” or something like it instead.
On the other hand, some Christians find it hard to understand how non-religious people can have any kind of affinity for the cultural trappings of religion, finding it baffling, for instance, that Richard Dawkins would include Bach’s St. Matthew Passion amongst his favourite works for Desert Island Discs. Some go as far as to suggest that it is hypocritical to speak of Christmas if you aren’t a Christian, that you should not use the word unless you are referring to the “reason for the season”, the birth of Jesus.
If that is so, then here are a few other words that we perhaps ought not to use, because they are derived from religions few now follow:
Tuesday: Named after Týr, the Norse god of war and law.
Wednesday: Named after the Anglo-Saxon god Woden.
Thursday: meaning “Thor‘s Day”.
Friday: the day of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Frige.
Saturday: Saturn’s day, named after Saturnus, the Roman god of wealth.
February is named after the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar.
March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.
May has been named for the Greek goddess Maia.
June is named after the Roman goddess Juno.
July was named for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month and was turned into a god by the Romans.
August was named in honour of Augustus, also declared a god by the Romans.
Finally, Easter is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ēostre. Perhaps the church should rename it? Since the First of the Ten Commandments is about having no other gods, I imagine that the Christian God might get rather cross about having Ēostre’s name mentioned every year in church at his own most important festival.
Merry Christmas one and all!
Image from: http://www.aworldofmyths.com/media/Greek_Gods/Zeus/Zeus_4.jpg
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