ONE OF THE FIRST SHOWS about Christmas I watched as a kid was A Charlie Brown Christmas. I haven’t watched it in years, but I haven’t forgotten the culminating scene where Charlie Brown shouts above the noise to demand an answer to a question he’s struggling with: What is Christmas all about? As we all know, Linus steps forward and proclaims the birth of Christ.
The scene is interesting to me as a Catholic. It’s reminiscent of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, where, after much debate among the apostles, Peter rises and puts the debate on circumcision to rest. Linus was, of course, our second pope, and it seems no small coincidence that, amid all the noise, it was Linus who delivered the truth of Christmas to Charlie Brown and his friends.
The show first aired in 1965, and it became a holiday favorite for many, but modern critics dislike the show for its Christian sentiment. It’s a lot more than sentiment—it’s catechesis! I can’t name another Christmas movie that goes so far as to recite an entire section of the Bible to discuss the reason we celebrate the birth of Christ (see Luke 2:8-14).
Unfortunately, times have changed, and fewer people are willing to recognize that Christmas is a Christian celebration. If Charlie Brown entered a crowded room today to ask what Christmas is all about, he’d get mixed answers. Perhaps out of a desire to further secularize Christmas, many claim that it is not Christian at all, that it was “invented.”
The modern Catholic has many fronts to defend, one of them being the so-called “pagan roots” of Christmas. Around Christmastime you are likely to hear the objection that Christmas is a Christo-pagan holiday, a mash-up of pagan beliefs and Christian celebration. Here are two of the objections you might meet, and a helpful way to respond to each.
Read more at Catholic Answers