In response to all those people put there complaining about "Holiday Trees" or "Happy Holidays" and how the secular world is "stealing Christmas" I put forward my 2 holiday theory.
Every year at this time the Western world gets ready to celebrate two holidays, one Christian and one secular. (Of course there are others from other faith traditions but this theory deals explicity with the events of and around Dec 25.) This is confusing because we call them by the same name and there is some similarity in symbols and practices associated with them. For the sake of clarity I will call them Christmas and Xmas.
Christmas is the Christian holiday. Symbols of Christmas include candles, shepherds, angels, and a baby in a manger. Practices include: reading the stories around Jesus' birth, singing carols about that story, talking about transformed lives, looking for signs of God-with-us, exchanging tokens of love and affection, and gathering with friends and family.
Xmas is partly an outgrowth of Christmas. It is also a response to the seemingly innate desire of humans for a mid-winter/solstice festival. Symbols of Xmas include Santa, snowmen, decorated trees, and bright (terribly wasteful) displays of electric lights on lawns. Practices include: an orgy of gift-buying, an incredible amount of overeating/drinking/spending, singing songs about reindeer and red-suited elves and snow, and gathering with friends and family.
Now lets be honest. Many of us celebrate both of these holidays, although many of us also favour one over the other--and how we choose to celebrate shows which one we favour. But they are not the same. Xmas is secular, it is marked by "Happy Holidays" and is best celebrated in the world at large. Christmas belongs to a faith tradition and in a pluralistic world (where not everyone shares that faith tradition) is best celebrated in more private settings. SO it is non-sensical to complain when the non-religious world celebrates Xmas. So stop complaining about the holiday tree, or asking stores to put up a manger scene, or about people who would rather go partying on Dec 24 than attend worship service. AS Scrooge said "You keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine".
I don't believe that people are stealing Christmas. I do believe that Christians lose sight of their place in the world. Christmas is special to us. Let's show that, not by insisting everyone agree but by being true to the meaning of the season. And if others choose to favour Xmas, and we choose to join in some of that season, then so be it.