Two of our writers share their perspectives on Christmas as non-Christians.
Whilst I do enjoy the odd Christmas movie, or song, or two, for me the actual celebration of Christmas is honestly just too high maintenance to be enjoyable. I sometimes turn into a little bit of a Scrooge this time of the year, which is in part attributed to the shocked reactions when I explain my lack of enthusiasm and absence of celebration, but more importantly because of the excessive enthusiasm of others. I would definitely rather live in a cave on Mount Crumpet with a cute dog. Of course, many Jews love celebrating at Christmas, my own family included, and in fairness, my extreme Christmas opinions are slightly on the periphery (two Jews, three opinions, and the like).
I do have to admit, Christmas is not all doom and gloom, and I am quite susceptible to a half-decent Christmas cracker prize. I also don’t deny having participated in some celebrations on the 25 December in the past. Although the choice of cuisine would not be my first, who would actually oppose an opportunity to eat vast amounts of food without judgement? Although, this is basically the crux of most Jewish holidays anyways; someone tried to kill us so let’s eat doughnuts, cookies, and fried potatoes. In my maybe slightly biased, Jewish opinion, Chanukah is the far superior winter celebration. Thanks to the commercialisation of “winter holidays”, it is now considered custom to have eight days of presents, one for each day of Chanukah, and who could argue with that?
So whilst maybe my Christmas opinions may not be entirely inherently negative, I’d take latkes and sufganiyot over mince pies and eggnog any day.
I unironically adore Christmas with all my faithless heart. For the whole of December, I like to surround myself with twinkly decorations, watch all the big shops compete to have the soppiest advert, and listen to the same 15 songs over and over again. Songs including Christmas carols, I might add. I’ve never been religious, but I’m comfortable enough in my belief system (or lack thereof) to sample a selection of traditional tidbits without concerning myself with the meaning behind them. I enjoy Christmas in the same way Tim Minchin does in his song White Wine in the Sun; with all the usual objections to consumerism, and with scepticism of ancient wisdom, but just really liking it anyway.
I figure if the celebration of Christmas has drifted so far from its roots that Christian groups are clambering over each other to remind us (largely unsuccessfully) of the “true” meaning of Christmas, can it really be called a religious holiday anymore? Methinks not. As far as I’m concerned, it has entered the public domain. Aside from schools making trips to churches (a practice I routinely protested), I think it has very little bearing on how it has been celebrated for the last thirty-odd years. Christmas is such a rich cacophony of aesthetics, emotions, and traditions that, at least in Scotland, it has moved well beyond the need to reflect on its origins.
The day itself will come and go so quickly that most times I don’t remember the details, but just knowing that very briefly the whole country will just stop, celebrate, relax (or at the very least continue as normal but now with Santa hats on) is comforting and uniting in a way that you don’t see anywhere else in modern life. Who needs Jesus when you’ve got that?
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