Wal-Mart officials are standing by their policy of encouraging employees to use the “Happy Holidays” greeting rather than “Merry Christmas,” but says the worker responsible for an e-mail describing the pagan origins of Christmas no longer works for the company.
“Wal-Mart is proud to welcome customers of all faiths, and celebrants of all holidays,” Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said in a bulk response e-mail to WorldNetDaily’s original story. “We sincerely apologize to any person or organization that was offended by the inappropriate and inflammatory comments made by this former associate.”
As WND reported, Wal-Mart is facing a national boycott organized by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights which says the merchandising giant is discriminating against Christians while promoting other seasonal holidays by name, such as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue
“I’ve been doing nothing but interviews on talk radio (with more scheduled) and everyone is citing your article,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue told WND. “Conservatives are fired up because they feel betrayed. Look for us to win.”
The controversy was sparked when a woman recently complained to Wal-Mart that the store was replacing its “Merry Christmas” greeting with “Happy Holidays.”
The League says the woman received an e-mail response from a customer-service representative named Kirby, reading exactly as follows:
Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than “christmas” which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with “christmas” red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.
Fogleman confirmed the original note was written by a Wal-Mart representative, and explained today:
“We at Wal-Mart believe this e-mail between a temporary associate and one of our valued customers was entirely inappropriate. Its contents in no way represent the policies, practices or views of our company. This associate, who was hired less than three weeks ago, is no longer employed by our company.”
The Associated Press has since picked up on the story tonight, more than 19 hours after first broken by WND.
Fogleman says the original email from Kirby was taken out of context, and Wal-Mart’s use of the “Happy Holidays” theme was to be inclusive of celebrations from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve in addition to Christmas.
Last night, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart told WND her company was “absolutely not” banning Christmas as the Catholic League has been claiming.
To demonstrate an instance of discrimination, Donohue points out, and WND confirmed, that when using the company’s online search engine, if the word “Hanukkah” is entered, 200 items for sale are returned. The term “Kwanzaa” yields 77. But when “Christmas” is entered, the message returned says: “We’ve brought you to our ‘Holiday’ page based on your search.”
WND screen capture of Wal-Mart website shows when ‘Christmas’ is entered in search engine, results are deferred to a ‘Holiday’ page
However, the search also brings up a secondary link on which to click, which reveals 7,970 items that match the “Christmas” term.
When WND entered the name “Jesus,” 5,668 items were displayed.
The complaint is that only Christmas, and no other religion’s holiday, brings up the special holiday page.
“We already serve a diverse customer base, and we’re just trying to help them to celebrate their individual needs and wants,” Stewart said.
“Stewart’s remark is flatulent,” Donohue says. “If Wal-Mart had a ‘Holiday’ section on its website that directed customers to its Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa sites, that would not be objectionable.”
“Today, I e-mailed Dan Fogleman,” Donohue continued, “letting him know the following: ‘Now that Wal-Mart is standing by its position, I hope you’re ready for our next move. Don’t forget, we have the next six weeks to pull out all the stops, and we will.’”
As WorldNetDaily has previously reported, the celebration of Christmas is a major cultural battleground in the U.S., dating back to colonial America when Christians in New England outlawed Christmas, saying it was based more on ancient pagan traditions than instruction from the Bible.
Today, followers of ancient paganism strive to remind the public about the heathen origins of traditions that many may never have questioned.
Wiccan high priestess Selena Fox
CircleSanctuary.org is among the Internet addresses run by nature-worshipping pagans. Wiccan high priestess Selena Fox discusses the state of being pagan and celebrating the lengthening of days during the Northern Hemisphere’s darkest time of year.
- “Yule, the winter solstice, is a festival of peace and a celebration of waxing solar light. I honor the new sun child by burning a[n] oaken yule log in a sacred fire. I honor the great goddess in her many great mother aspects, and the father god as Santa in his old sky god, father time, and holly king forms. I decorate my home with lights and with holly, ivy, mistletoe, evergreens and other herbs sacred to this season. I ring in the new solar year with bells.”
Fox even provides a list of suggestions on how 21st century citizens can take part in the ancient rituals, to “re-paganize” Christmastime:
- Have gift exchanges and feasts over the course of several days and nights as was done of old
- Adorn the home with sacred herbs and colors; decorate in druidic holiday colors of red, green and white
- Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold and leave it there until next yule as a charm for good luck throughout the year
- Have family/household members join together to make or purchase an evergreen wreath
- If you choose to have a living or a harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a solstice tree and decorate it with pagan symbols
- Reclaim Santa Claus as a pagan godform by decorating him with images that reflect his various heritages ranging from the Greek god Cronos (father time) to Odin, the Scandinavian all-father riding the sky on an eight-legged horse
- Place pagan mother-goddess images around your home, possibly including one with a sun child, such as Isis with Horus
- Honor the new solar year with light – light candles, burn a yule log and save a portion for the following year, put colored lights outside your home, and with the popularity of five-pointed stars, consider displaying a blue or white pentagram.