‘Tis the Season?: The Context and Significance of the “War on Christmas”

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Claims about a war being waged on Christmas have become a staple of the American holiday season. Yet before 2004 the ‘War on Christmas’ was almost entirely non-existent. From where did the ‘War on Christmas’ emerge and why has it retained such influence despite overwhelming evidence that Americans continue to celebrate the holiday season in both its religious and secular aspects? Commentators have suggested causes from a cynical desire to boost ratings and commercial sales of Christian Christmas merchandise to deep-rooted antagonisms towards people of other (and no) faiths. This article argues that its roots lie in the same issues which prompted the broader culture wars waged by conservative Christians, particularly a particular understanding of the First Amendment, a belief in the US as a Christian nation, and a sense of a loss of social status and position for Christianity. At the same time, it also notes that, as with conflicts in other nations, it also represents a symbol of the ways in which nations with Christian-influenced but often secularized national traditions are seeking to adapt to increasing religious pluralism within their borders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-345
Number of pages22
JournalComparative American Studies
Issue number3-4
Early online date7 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Christianity
  • Supreme court
  • War on Christmas
  • conservatives
  • culture war
  • diversity
  • first amendment
  • inclusivity

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