While Conspiratorial War on Christmas Tropes Are Plentiful, the Real Myth Is Christmas Itself!


While many folks are singing along to their favorite Christmas music, decorating Christmas trees, adorning their homes with fantastical light displays, and settling in to stream a myriad of Christmas-related movies,1 the conspiracy crowd continues promoting War on Christmas treacheries.2 However, the real myth, according to Dr. David Kyle Johnson, is Christmas itself!

According to the daily dot’s Mikael Thalen, “Conspiracy theorists across social media are outraged over what they believe is a Satanic coffee cup being sold by Starbucks. But it turns out that the item has nothing to do with the multinational coffee chain.”

Popularized on Elon Musk’s Twitter, the story goes: “The coffee cup in question shows the Starbucks logo as well as young boy crying while being terrified by Krampus, a goat-like demon from European lore that punishes children during the Christmas season. ‘Starbucks Coffee Cups,’ the Twitter user wrote. ‘Just in time for Christmas. ‘I like my Coffee Black like my Soul.’”

“The message is clear,” one user wrote. “They’re not hiding anymore. They’re out to get the children.”

According to Thalen,

The cup was actually created in 2015 by a tattoo artist in Seattle known as Mike Tidwell and posted to his personal Instagram account. Apparently the cup has caused issues before. Tidwell told the AFP that he has never been affiliated with Starbucks. ‘I got bored one day and decided to pick up a Sharpie marker and draw on my cup. I posted it on social media, as did my friends and it got noticed by the public,’ Tidwell said. ‘And along with it came the rumors that Starbucks made them. Totally false.’

Meanwhile, over at Starbucks, its founder Howard Schultz is doing all he can to thwart unionization.

Speaking of conspiracies, according to Only Sky’s Andrew Hall, in his book The Myths That Stole Christmas, Dr. David Kyle Johnson posits about the Christmas conspiracy. “While we hear a lot about the War on Christmas, there isn’t much press on how Christians conspired to use the most wonderful time of the year for their own ends,” Hall writes.

Johnson is a professor of philosophy at King’s College (PA) and also has three courses for The Great Courses: Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (2018), The Big Questions of Philosophy (2016) and Exploring Metaphysics (2014).

Dr. Johnson on the Christmas origin story):

There were already existing celebrations around this time of year, Saturnalia and the celebration of the Sun god Sol. And those are two different things. conspired to hijack those celebrations and make them about Jesus when they weren’t about Jesus to begin with.

There’s no reason to think that Jesus was born on December 25th, but they just declared that to be Jesus’ birthday. So they essentially tacked on Christian elements to this already existing holiday. As I tried to explain in the book, essentially what happened was that Constantine converted to Christianity but his entire army worship Sol Invictus, right? And everybody else was celebrating Saturnalia or something, you know, like a harvest festival at that time. And if he was going to make the Roman Empire Christian, he couldn’t very well do that but have everybody celebrating these non-Christian holidays. He couldn’t have the biggest celebration of the year be a non-Christian celebration. And so essentially what the church does is declare well yeah, what we’re really doing is celebrating Jesus because Jesus was born on that day. And the public essentially said, do we still get to celebrate? Yeah, OK, fine. You can say what it is about whatever, right? Like we don’t care as long as we still get to have our party.

Over time, people forgot what they were originally celebrating. And it does become to be seen about Jesus. But that is not at all where the celebrations came from. Throughout the Middle Ages, the church conspired to try to Christianize the holiday to make it about Jesus in more than name only and only actually became known as Christmas in the 1100s. And it gets that from Christ mass. That was the earliest mass you could go to to end your fast.

Once it was finally called Christmas in the 1100s, it was still celebrated in a completely raucous and secular way. There was feasting, drinking, and sex. That was how you celebrated Christmas. And that was true throughout the Middle Ages despite the Catholic Church’s attempts to try to make the holiday religious in more than just name only. It was so raucous, that the only organization, the only group to ever actually wage a war on Christmas, was the most Christian of them all, the Puritans. They outlawed celebrations in early America because they were debaucherous, they were just drinking and sex and cross-dressing. As part of it as well, they banned those celebrations. You couldn’t even take the day off work unless it was a Sunday. December 25th happened to fall on a Sunday. Otherwise, you’d better be working on Christmas Day.

  • Originally published at BuzzFlash.
  • See also “Celebrating the True Meaning of December 25: Happy Birthday Mithras!
    1. Check out Vulture’s “The 16 Best Christmas Movies Streaming Right Now.” []
    2. Here you’ll find Ruben Bolling’s brilliant comic strip “Q-Nuts: It’s the War on Christmas, Charlie Brown!” []
    Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. Read other articles by Bill.