The frequency of Google searches for "war on Christmas".  Data source: Google Correlate. Graph created by RNS.

The frequency of Google searches for “war on Christmas.” Data source: Google Correlate. Graph created by Tobin Grant for RNS.

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(RNS) 12:01 a.m. The annual winter siege known as the “War on Christmas” is over, for now. For the next 11 months, the holiday will be able to exist in peace.

The new ceasefire is unlikely to be permanent, however. The war is expected to return by December 1, 2014, when slow news days and the need for donations will likely cause the fighting to resume.

If next year plays out like days of old (okay, just since 2007), we should expect interest in the war to begin just as Thanksgiving ends and shopping for Christmas begins in earnest.

According to data from Google Correlate, interest in the “War on Christmas” peaks at the same time we start putting up Christmas lights. It does not begin until the first week in December, increases the second, and then drops off, as it is clear that, once again, Christmas will survive.

Which states show the most interest in the war? States with the greatest interest in the war include Oklahoma, West Virginia, Indiana, and Oregon (though Oregon may be more concerned about the threat to Christmas trees from water mold). The same states that tend to search for “hell in a hand basket” and “old-fashioned.”

The war on Christmas used to go unnoticed. This changed in 2006 when Fox News Radio’s John Gibson (then at Fox News television) wrote his book, War on Christmas. In his book, Gibson revealed “how the liberal plot to ban the sacred Christian holiday is worse than you thought.”

To the relief of children everywhere, Christmas survived the Battle of ’06. And the Battle of ’07. And the Battle of ’08. And the Battles of ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, and, as of midnight, ’13.

Accounts of the recent skirmishes can be found in recent accounts of advent skirmishes. This year’s books include Sarah Palin’s Good Tiding and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas and War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression by Answers in Genesis’ Bodie Hodge. There is also The United States vs. Santa Clause: The Untold Story of the Actual War on Christmas, a fictional account by B.S. of A.’s Brian Sack and Jack Helmuth.

If you want the story of how Christmas survived true government suppression, however, read Stephen Nissenbaum’s Battle for Christmas. Puritans outlawed Christmas because of its connections to drunkenness and wassailing. For all the complaints about commercialism at Christmas, the holiday did not become the tranquil, domestic event until it became a time to buy (emphasis on purchasing from stores) gifts for children.

To prepare for next year’s battle, stock up now with American Family Association’s Christmas buttons.  AFA continues to inform consumers on which retailers are “nice” and “naughty.” Their buttons show your support for Christmas. Best of all: they’re now 33 percent off. Each button is still $8  a piece, but when Christmas’ survival is on the line, no price is too high.

Categories: Beliefs


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Tobin Grant

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.


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