Wednesday, December 21, 2005

so being the season to be jolly.....

I'm going to have a little rant about it.

I have been party to at least 2 debates in the last couple of weeks about the "PC gone mad attitude that leads to Christmas being called winterfest".

One was a heated argument with some of our best friends. The other one I remember clearly was at an "Equality and Diversity" training in my employing NHS trust. I was on one side of the argument and many others were against.

Who decided that Christmas starts in October? I firmly believe that capitalism has stretched it out, simply for sales purposes.

This though means that culturally many people think that any event that takes place during this period must be a Christmas event. Therefore calling a Local Authority organised programme of event held during November and December a "Winterfest" rather than Christmas is offensive and implies that using the term "Christmas" is banned. Some people say they think Christmas itself is banned as they understand some politically correct community leaders think it upsets non-Christians.

Our friend's point was that he knows a Hindi woman who thinks like this and he agrees. He said she is happy to see people celebrate Christmas, especially as it's the British cultural standard and she is an "incomer". He said that "everyone" celebrates Christmas and it's not just a Christian thing.

My position is this -

I am happy for those who want to celebrate Christmas - be they Christian or not - to do so. I do.

I am also happy for us to have the opportunity to take part in organised events that are specifically Christmas events - like Carol Concerts and Christmas markets.

I never questioned that our majority culture in Britain is still based on the Christian tradition and our main festivals are too. I am however sure there is clear pagan relevance to Easter and Christmas-time though. And it's no coincidence that most religions and cultures have some sort of festival that makes use of light at the darkest time of the year is it?

Many people I know who practice religions other than Christianity join in with celebrating Christmas. I also know people who would definitely not celebrate Christmas, and would be upset if they were pressured into doing so.

I find it notable that some of the Christmas symbols and practices are nothing to do with Christianity- trees, snowmen, and others. It's relatively easy to appropriate them if Christmas, as it is to me, does not carry Christian meaning to you. By the way - Homer Simpson as an inflatable Santa decoration in people's gardens. What's that all about? All the other icons are without copyright - Homer is owned by Rupert Murdoch!!!

I am not happy that every other event and important festival that takes place during the months of November and December to have to take on the Christmas label by default.

I believe it is essential that we demonstrate to our fellow community members that we recognise there are alternatives and that other celebrations are equally valid and supported. When events are organised or promoted by the Local Authority - whose role it is to represent and support ALL citizens in their area - they must support all communities equally as long as the events are not breaking the law.

Diwali, Chunakah and depending on the moon phase Eid-ul-Fitr some years, amongst many others are religious festivals that happen at this time of year and need to be recognised and included. Calling a programme of events "Winterfest" makes sure that everyone is included.

I would never agree that a specific Christmas event had to change it's name. I have no evidence that anyone has ever been asked to change an Christmas events' name. Let me know if you do.

So - where do you sit on this issue?

In the meantime - season's greeting to you all!!!! Have a good Christmas, if it's your thing. I intend to.......


birdychirp said...

hear hear! As a vaguely spiritual person I think we should celebrate MORE festivals not fewer. I can believe that unthinking groups may believe they 'have' to change the name of Christian events but to me its about more rather than less.

Alec said...

It's arrogant of Christians to assume that every celebration at this time of year is part of Christmas, but then, Christians have long appropriated other people's symbols and festivals, so I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise.

Winter said...

I celebrate christmas in a non-religious way and I really like the term "Winterfest." It's nice and it does sound inclusive. This is supposed to be a festive time of celebration for lots of people of different faiths and no faith.