Nevada City, CA — On Friday, the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce announced that beginning next year, the Victorian Christmas events in Nevada City will be renamed to “A Charles Dickens Winter Solstice”.
Victorian Christmas is a decades-old tradition in Nevada City. It is well-known for its “magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings”, according to the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce website.
Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Kate Whittlebee said an increasing number of event-goers had voiced their concerns about the relationship of the event to Christianity’s most important holiday.
“Many folks felt uncomfortable going to Victorian Christmas because of the obvious connotations with Christianity”, said Mrs. Whittlebee outside of the Chamber of Commerce gift shop. “We wanted to ensure that our guests felt welcome here in Nevada City, regardless of their religious and spiritual beliefs. We try to accommodate a lot of different types of people during our events.”
Historians say the events that led to modern-day Christmas began over 4000 years ago. Europeans associated the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, with evil spirits and monsters, and held rituals and celebrations to welcome the return of the sun and longer days. When it returned, a great festival was held.
Local conservative Brock Whalen expressed his reaction to the announcement outside of the Penn Valley Taco Shell.
“This is another sad chapter in the never-ending culture war known as the War on Christmas. I suppose we will just have to dig in our heels and row a bit harder.”
Many conservatives and evangelicals have expressed concerns over the secularization of the Christian holiday. They say there is an existential threat to Christmas, shown by many people replacing the common expression of “Merry Christmas” with the more generic “Happy Holidays”. Over the years cities throughout the developed world have removed public displays of Christian nativity scenes and other religious artifacts.
Most scholars agree that December 25 is not the actual date of the birth of Jesus Christ. Roman Emperor Constantine, who had converted to Christianity, sought to have pagans and Christians celebrate together by incorporating the rituals together. With church support and the Emperor’s power, the Winter Solstice celebrations became almost entirely associated with the birth of Christ.
Merrilee Longshoes, of North San Juan, shared her excitement about the news in the Briar Patch Co-Op parking lot. “I am so happy that Nevada City has decided to focus on the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice! Soon the days will be getting longer and people will be happier and more optimistic as Spring is coming right around the bend! And I don’t approve of Corporate America perverting the celebration for their own commercial gain. It puts a lot of people into financial debt and causes a lot of unneeded stress. I plan to smudge the streets of Nevada City with burning sage during A Charles Dickens Winter Solstice.”