Here’s an article from National Geographic which attempts to put some historical context on the debate over holiday celebrations: “War on Christmas” Charge Echoes Past Debates, Expert Says
Christmas was outlawed within the history of the early republic, within the colonies, as part of the religious legislation by the puritans. The puritans, apparently, were upset about the pagan season being co-opted by the Catholic church.
The article doesn’t specifically talk about the notion of broad consumer appeal as a motivation behind the decoupling of the specific religious observance and the purchasing of goods. But, it does cite the use of the term “holiday” as belnding the religious and consumer aspects of the season.
It does talk about Target’s policy change, which I didn’t know about. However, I did notice that Safeway and Target in Olympia were both saying “Merry Christmas” at the checkout counters.
It is interesting that the article draws a parallel between the puritans then and the conservative groups now both working to “impose their beliefs.” And this reflects a distinctly non-post-modern view of the world. The notion that the world can be any way it wants as long as it is like oneself seems to me to be significantly immature and complex in it’s speciousness.
The article also re-iterates an argument that I have heard before that the proper place for a birthday mass for a biblical Jesus would have to be in March, not December. Therefore, from this one could continue with the corollary, any rabidly textual bible reader that defends a December holiday as Christmas is in violation of their own professed beliefs.