Like a recurring dream or Groundhog Day, Christmas comes round every year, and some people dread it, don’t they? Christmas Day like clockwork is always there on December 25th – but it ‘starts’ earlier, indeed these days in England it seems to kick-off earlier and earlier (as much as six months before!). No wonder people get cheesed-off with it all, eh?
Most people appreciate that the Christmas date is not necessarily the ‘actual’ date of the baby Jesus’ birth, as it is not identified in the Bible, but is simply a ‘chosen date’ (roughly calculated?) for its celebration (indeed selected in year 336AD at the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine (perhaps a bit like the Queen’s official Birthday really).
For much of the population, Christmas is simply a major commercial event, as it has been successfully hijacked by retailers and businesses, so many people forget that it is actually an annual ‘Christian’ festival (to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ). The name itself is of course derived from ‘Christ’s Mass, but being a major public holiday it is welcomed even by non-Christians as much as the ‘faithful’, isn’t it? [The unenlightened secular even moan that religion is creeping-in on the holiday, don’t they?].
The biggest of the many popular customs of Christmas is the one of ‘gift-giving’, isn’t it? That is the major aspect of the festival that drives noteworthy economic activity, excites, and is crucial for goods sellers, big and small, far and wide in the UK. Without substantial Christmas sales many big retail organisations would simply go to the wall, wouldn’t they?
Even the giant food supermarkets also rely on their Christmas trade to make or break their year, and it is by far the busiest period of their year (December 23 is a peak day), so they all push the boat out to attract shoppers in the fiercest of all battles – and that is why we see the scandalous situation where families ‘over-buy’ large quantities of food they cannot possibly eat in the short holiday period, so end up binning some half of it (and virtually bankrupt themselves with excessive spending) – yet this in an era where much of the world is starving, and there is insufficient worldwide food to sustain their communities (not helped surely by Britain no longer being able to feed itself and heading for the importation of HALF its food requirements within a generation – it is already up to over forty percent when it used to be only twenty percent thirty years ago, and in the darkest days of WWII we were virtually self-sufficient).
Well, Christmas 2015 is going to be a tough one for the grocery retailer big boys, with top of the pile Tesco already suffering a miserable year on performance constantly losing market share; American owned Asda is no better placed with sales falling; Morrisons is desperately trying to get back on track after years of struggling with a sales decline; Sainsbury’s under a new boss is expected to lead the pack over Christmas results; Upmarket Waitrose and M&S always do well at Christmas as the posh and pretend posh people are very loyal and spend mega bucks; Germany’s Aldi and in particularly Lidl are seizing increasing market share, and getting very busy, so they may well come out of Christmas smelling of roses.
There is a disturbing trend in Britain whereby we see government bodies, authorities, schools, and the like, sidelining Christianity and being reluctant to celebrate, or even mention Christmas, with some kind of misguided adverse fear of ‘offending’ non-Christian religions such as Islam. We find that some half of Councils are cancelling the spirit of a religious Christmas and don’t send out cards these days other than snow scenes, which replace nativity depictions and increasingly schools abandon the traditional nativity play at Christmas time. This is a ridiculous situation with political correctness (PC) gone mad, surely?
Why would any peace-loving Muslim be ‘offended’ when living by choice in a Christian-Country environment, that there is an annual celebration of a Christian festival like Christmas? Are Christians ‘offended’ when British based Muslims head off to Saudi Arabia Mecca in late Summer/Autumn to undertake their life’s duty Hajj pilgrimage, or their month of mandatory summer’s fasting for Ramadan? Are Christians ‘offended’ when British based Hindu’s celebrate in the autumn their ancient festival of lights Diwali (their largest and brightest festival)? Are Christians ‘offended’ when the Jewish community celebrate their annual Passover event in April or their holiest day of Yom Kippur in autumn? Are Christians ‘offended’ when those of Caribbean origins take to their British streets for their Carnivals (based on folklore, culture, religion, and tradition) in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, Nottingham, Preston IOW, and indeed the London’s iconic Notting Hill celebration? Of course NOT, eh? So exactly why should this Country not enjoy the traditional events of Christmas with decorations & lights, advent calendars & nativity scenes, trees & cards, church services & carol singers, Father Christmas and children’s toys, special dinner & crackers, and anything else that comes along?
One of the main reasons why British people excessively push the boat out at Christmas results from a reprehensible, shrewdly character famously portrayed in Charles Dickens’s wonderful novel from 1843 “A Christmas Carol” – namely one Ebenezer Scrooge. He starts out as a cold hearted stingy miser who despises everything good about Christmas and constantly utters the infamous catchphrase “Bah, humbug” about it. In the story he is deeply disturbed by the potential fate of sickly young boy Tiny Tim, so sees the light and ends up redeeming himself with good actions. No one wants to be seen as a modern day Scrooge, simply hoarding wealth and leading a blameworthy life, do they? No, they don’t want the same fate as Scrooge and get a visitation by the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come and after death be damned for eternity to walk the Earth bound in chains – so they then overdo everything, don’t they?
Despite some drawbacks resulting from Christmas celebrations , on balance it is a very valuable asset to British community life as it is an unique opportunity in the whole year for families to get together and for love to be openly expressed (as well as some well thought-out gifts to be passed over). Moreover, it is a time when absent friends are remembered, thought about and a card wings its way with a greeting.
[If Christmas is for anybody it is for kids, and it should be a magical time for them all, that we should strive for that –but remember that love and caring is always worth more than material things.. Christmas is also though for families, not just for adults to feast and drink (as many of them quite rightly do), but to reflect on their life, count their blessings, and ‘if’ they have faith to be humble before their god whichever that is, then think of others who are less fortunate than themselves (plan to help them in some way if they can)].