Well it’s that time of year again. It is Christmas Eve: no getting away from the fact that the festive season is well and truly upon us.
As is the tradition, in the run up to Christmas people are keen to bestow their festive wishes upon you*. This comes in the traditional form of the Christmas card and, increasingly, through social media.
And it is an aspect of this latter approach that is denting my Christmas spirit.
It is not the medium that I object to; social media is a convenient, if slightly less personal, way to broadcast your goodwill messages and festive felicitations. No, my problem is with the message.
Many of the messages that appear on my FaceBook timeline are not personally crafted, but memes that have been shared. That is fine; it’s the thought that counts. However, these memes often originate in America and, rather than wishing me a Merry Christmas in the traditional way, instead wish me “Happy Holidays”.
I find this unspeakably annoying. I feel my teeth going on edge even as I type the words.
The problem is, when people craft their own messages, they are now beginning to mimic this Americanised version of the season’s greetings and it has to stop: we must protect the “Merry Christmas” before it becomes an endangered species.
Where did this facile greeting come from anyway?
Is it just a time-saving ploy for Americans? They have Thanksgiving at the end of November, so rather than having to go around wishing everyone Happy Thanksgiving and then, less than a month later, do it all again with a Merry Christmas, do they just lump them all together with an all encompassing Happy Holidays?
If that is true, fair enough, but we don’t have Thanksgiving, so let’s continue to embrace Christmas.
Alternatively, is the greeting a result of political correctness as some would have us believe? If this is true it annoys me even more.
True, Christmas is based upon a Christian festival and not everyone is Christian. Indeed, if you have read my blog before you may know that I am not Christian: I am, more or less, an atheist.
But why should we think that celebrating a Christian festival is going to offend those who do not wish to celebrate it? Many faiths across the world celebrate many different festivals throughout the year; none of them offend me and, as far as I can tell, none of the celebrants care much one way or the other if it does. That seems a sensible approach.
If this is the reason for “Happy Holidays” it doesn’t even make much sense. Ironically, in any other context, Americans have turned away from the religiously inspired word “holidays” (holy days) and replaced it with the word “vacation”, which I find equally annoying coming from British lips.
If you are living in the UK, the USA or any other nation whose traditions are based around a Christian mythology, but you do not follow that mythology yourself, there are two options:
1) ignore it and carry on about your business as best you can given that the whole country goes slightly crazy for a few weeks and everything closes for a couple of days.
2) Embrace Christmas as a non-religious festival as most of us do anyway. Sure, there are still some people out there who go to church, read their bible and immerse themselves in the teachings of the gospel, but most of us embrace the traditions of the pagan festival from which Christmas originally came and embark on a week long, consumer-driven orgy of eating and drinking. Just embrace it and go with it.
So that’s it, Christmas rant over, time to head off to the pub.
*often starting as early as November, but that is an entirely different rant.