Thursday 19 December 2013

The Venn Diagram of Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. I love everything about it, apart perhaps from the predictable fundamental Christians bleating on about the so called War on Christmas and their irksome ill-informed insistence that Jesus is the reason for the season.

A few years back at my local church, I sat through the vicar’s ranting sermon shoehorned into the school carol concert. It was blatantly aimed at heathen parents like me that no longer routinely grace his ever-dwindling flock. I felt honour-bound to boo him for his pious absolute claim on Christmas. The dig in my ribs from my wife however reminded me that it’s still generally considered bad form to boo the vicar – even if he is clearly talking out of his arse. But despite the dodgy sermons proclaiming Jesus to be at the centre of Christmas, I still think it’s a great time of the year.

In fact the very reason why Christmas is so great is precisely because it is a non-discriminatory celebration, far wider and more encompassing than the mere strategically relocated anniversary of the alleged saviour of one particular faith group.

That’s not to say that the baby Jesus lying in a manger surrounded by adorable toilet-trained livestock isn’t a vital and welcome part of the imagery and tradition of the season. It’s just that he’s not at the centre of it any more so than a barefooted John McClane in the Nakatomi Plaza or grumpy TV executive Frank Cross being violently punched in the face by the angelic Ghost of Christmas Present.

The modern Christmas traditions we’re all familiar with (at least in the western world) have drawn from Christian, Pagan and Secular sources, and they all add value. If we map them onto a Venn diagram there’s quite clearly someone else at the centre of our Christmas traditions and, thankfully, he does not concern himself with our arbitrary faith boundaries.

With the obvious exceptions of Cliff Richard and eggnog, I like everything on this diagram. Those who claim that Christmas is under attack from the politically correct forces of secularism and consumerism are merely trying to purge the season of its equally worthy non-Christian elements.

So, beware of any one set on this diagram who try to claim sole ownership of the winterval. The true spirit of Christmas is not about hijacking the seasonal festivities for the exclusive celebration of one particular ideology. Christmas is for everyone, Christians, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics and adherents of any other conceivable faith group who would care to come and pull a cracker with me.

Merry Christmas everyone
Christmas 2013