Retconning Christmas: David Kyle Johnson on the Real Reason for the Season

December 7, 2015

Host: Lindsay Beyerstein

During the perennial War on Christmas, certain Christians often feel the need to remind the rest of us what the holiday season is really about. It’s Jesus Christ’s birthday and we’re all invited to the party… if by “party” you mean sitting reverently in pews at Christmas mass. Something as little as changing the seasonal decorations on a cardboard coffee cup is enough to put some Christians on edge, as some felt the new red and green Starbucks cups insufficiently acknowledged the role of Christ. Andrea Williams of the U.K.’s Christian Concern wrote, “This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefitted Starbucks.” But perhaps it's folks like Williams who are the ones guilty of historical denial.

Here to talk about the real historical origins of Christmas is writer and philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson, author of the new book, The Myths that Stole Christmas. Johnson explains how “the reason for the season” is just the season itself. He discusses how Christmas went from being a secular holiday to a religious one, how Jesus was inserted into it, the origins of Santa Claus, and all the other myths in between that still hold sway in our modern-day seasonal celebrations.