Let’s stand up for Christmas

A view of the traditional Nativity Scene during switch on ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on December 9, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


With Europe’s Christian identity in the crosshairs, Christmas is under fire, both literally and metaphorically. On the one hand, extremists threaten to target festive gatherings and celebrations. On the other hand, the woke agenda is attempting to cancel Christmas as a non-inclusive holiday.

This year especially, security concerns are of unprecedented gravity. “With the upcoming holiday season, there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union,” said Ylva Johansson in early December. The EU Home Affairs Commissioner has already been proven right – as has Thomas Haldenwang, the president of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution who said that “a new dimension (of threat) is now emerging”. 

A few weeks ago, two teenagers were arrested, who allegedly planned to set off an explosion at a Christmas market in Leverkusen, before fleeing the country to join the “Islamic State”.

A 20-year-old Iraqi who arrived in Germany last year has also been brought in to custody on suspicion of planning a knife attack on a Hannover Christmas market. 

Last week, in an orchestrated operation Danish, Dutch, and German authorities arrested several individuals on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks on European soil this Christmas. Some of the eight men are reported to be long-standing members of Hamas. 

Last Friday in Athens, police apprehended two Pakistani nationals who wielded knives and harassed passersby while shouting “Allahu Akbar” near the busy central market of Nea Ionia, a northern suburb of the Greek capital. 

Security concerns have also been the reason behind cancellations of Christmas events around Europe. Three outdoor carol services in East London were cancelled due to security concerns. In Manchester the Christmas lights switch-on show did not go ahead, as the city council blamed the absence of “a suitable safe location”. In Spain, singing and drinking have been banned on the streets of Malaga, for reasons of safety. 

However, Christmas is not only threatened by militant extremists. It is the woke agenda too, together with political correctness, that aim at cancelling the very nature of Christendom’s biggest celebration. 

It was two years ago, when the European Commission received heavy criticism for an internal guidelines document which advised that Christmas be substituted with “holiday period”. And though the document was retracted, the general spirit remains. 

Groups and NGOs for inclusiveness, like Watch this Space, are warning that festivities could be exclusionary to those who do not celebrate Christmas, and are calling for workplaces to forgo their usual office Christmas celebrations in order to  cater to all employees’ tastes and beliefs. 

More and more Christmas cards and corporate or political wishes tend not to say “Merry Christmas” anymore.

Traditional Christmas symbols are becoming increasingly controversial. A Kindergarten in Germany refused to set up a Christmas tree this year, “because of religious freedom”. Christmas markets in central Europe are now often called “winter markets”. In Rotterdam, where the mayor is Muslim, the main attraction is now branded as “Winter-Fair”, making no reference at all to Christmas.

In parts of Belgium, Santa Claus, or Sinterklaas, is being “diversified” into a black female character called Queen Nikkolah. What is more, Santa’s little helpers, who are called “Zwarte Pieten”, or “Black Petes”, are causing outrage because their costumes involve blackface. Pictures of them have been forbidden on Facebook and Instagram since 2020. 

All this is truly sad. Yet this is not a season for sadness, bitterness, or animosity. For Christians of all denominations in Europe and beyond, Christmas marks the birth of all hope and blessing. So let us rejoice, celebrate with our loved ones and summon the strength to keep up the good fight.

There is a great meme that has gone viral recently. “This is the year 2023”, the woke guy says. “Christmas is not a thing anymore.” “Oh really?”, replies the based guy. “Year 2023 since what?” Enough said. In the words of Tiny Tim, “A Merry Christmas to us all. God bless us, everyone!”

Konstantinos Bogdanos served as a member of the Greek parliament from 2019 to 2023