Wednesday 15 December 2010

The reason for the season

In my little corner of the multiverse there isn't much controversy over seasonal greetings. Nobody objects when you say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." In fact, I can't recollect anyone saying "Happy Holidays" at all. That debate is apparently significant mainly in the United States.

I'm on the negative side of ambivalent about this whole Christmas thing. On the grounds of good taste alone there should be a Royal Commission into the whole business. (What's the equivalent of a Royal Commission in the Rebel Colonies - a Congressional Committee?)

Having a somewhat sectarian detour in my earlier years, I learned to be scornful of the whole Yuletide celebration anyway. Christmas has a prehistory that has nothing to do with the Christian veneer that's been plastered over it. And as a Southern Hempisphere resident, it always strikes me as peculiar to drag out images of snow in the sweltering heat of Summer.

Which is why I found James McGrath's posting on Christmas refreshing. Christmas, McGrath reminds us, is something Christians knicked from the pagans. There is an irony in the fact that some Christians complain bitterly that the Christian content has been stripped out of the festival.
"So to those in the English-speaking world who consider themselves Christians, my recommendation is this: stop complaining about the "de-Christianization" of a holiday that we ourselves stole (sorry, borrowed) from others and successfully hijacked for more than a thousand years. And instead delight in the fact that, even in our changed and changing context,  you can express your Christian faith, and have at least as much of an opportunity to take already-existing holidays and customs and fill them with distinctively Christian values - for yourself and as an opportunity to share your faith with others - as Christians in bygone eras did."
Excellent advice.

1 comment: