Tuesday, 12 November 2013

It's Christmas!

Well, no, actually - it isn't.

But, if you watch commercial TV, you'd be forgiven for thinking Christmas was nigh. They're clever and manipulative these modern adverts.

I quite like the M&S one with its reference to children's stories. But, and it's a very big but, they make me sad, and a little angry.

The message of Christmas has, once again, been hijacked, sacrificed on the altar of Profit. Wasn't it always, I hear you say? I don't know the answer to that. Historical records tell us that feasting and fun were a part of community life in winter - a way of celebrating the return of the sun at the winter solstice.

Communities would gather, light fires, and feast. In the Northern Hemisphere, this would take place on 21st December (or thereabouts).  Feuds would be put on hold (mistletoe over an entrance) in recognition of common humanity surviving in a savage world.

The Christian Church integrated the solstice in their celebration of the birth of Christ. It could be argued that this was an early form of 'spin' - a way of filling the churches with those unwilling to abandon their pagan ways.

Children have always been at the heart of Christmas celebrations. I'm old enough to remember a childhood where extended families, attended church,  came together for a meal (the women sharing the labour of providing it) and the children were supervised playing seasonal games (the men organising and supervising) - a bit sexist, I know, but this was the 1950s and women were still second-class citizens.

So why, you might ask, am I so annoyed at the modern spin doctors - the media? It's all about the emphasis. The simple message of sharing, peace, goodwill to all, in the midst of giving thanks for surviving another winter, has been lost. It is all about the giving of gifts (and the wanting of things). TV has been with us for almost 60 years. In that time, the wanting of things has grown, status gained through ownership of things.

The important things of what makes a society civilised seem to have been downgraded and are in danger of being lost. It doesn't have to be specifically Christian (other religions have been swept into the consumerism surrounding Christmas).

I'd like to see a return to a winter celebration of thanksgiving for the continuation of life, through the sharing of a meal in a spirit of peace and goodwill.

That's not too much to ask, is it?