The last few years I've been finding myself more and more annoyed by the attempts to banalise everything in Britain, but particularly to secularise anything that might suggest Christianity. Christmas has been an early casualty, the banal "Winterval" title being imposed by at least one City Council alongside bans on Nativity Plays in schools, Christmas decorations in offices, because they might offend people of "other faiths" and even attempts to remove any religious significance from Christmas Cards. I'm afraid cards that read "Happy Holidays" arriving in my mail don't get acknowledged or displayed.
Ironically, my many Muslim and Jewish friends have expressed real distress and horror at this assault on Christianity, perhaps aware that their faiths will be next if this succeeds.
When members of these faiths actually stood up and declared that they found nothing whatever offensive in the celebration of Christmas, the usual 'elf an' Safe'y reasons were trotted out - they're a fire hazard it was declared in one Civil Service office. The truth is somewhat less altruistic. This is really about trying to impose official atheism on everyone. In recent years there have been numerous attempts to re-pagainse Christmas. I have read tracts by supposedly educated people declaring that the "Christians merely took over the Saturnalia" or "imposed their fairy stories on the Druid's winter solstice" and the usual run of blather about how these festivals were 'celebrated' by this or that non-Christian group in the past.
In fact, Christianity did "Christianise" a number of festivals. After all, if people were used to celebrating something at a particular time in the calendar, why not continue it? I was reminded of this by an article by Neil Gaiman in The Independent. Growing up in South Africa (Somehow Christmas associated with snow still hasn't quite sunk into my psyche!) we had friends of different faiths as well, and some of them Jewish and at least one Hindu, all celebrated Christmas enthusiastically. In fact it was usual for Jewish organisations and at least one Muslim one, to arrange for their members to undertake essential services in hospitals, fire and rescue services and so on so that their "Christian" employees could take time off to celebrate with their families. All of that seems to have been submerged now in the UK at least by the tide of anti-religious garbage spewed out in the name of "equality and fairness."
The odd thing is that when you start to investigate the origins of the claims that these festivals - mainly Christmas and Easter - are "Pagan" in their origins you soon discover that the authority for this lies in the inventiveness of some of the more strange "secret societies" that grew up in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Like a lot of other things, these sources are deeply suspect, rely on pure invention and a lot of forgery and really don't stand a lot of scrutiny. Sadly though, like most propaganda, once it has entered the ears of those to idle to look at things for themselves, it becomes the accepted truth - especially when it is woven into the fantasies of Dan Brown's work and others.
Christmas is Christmas, even in Muslim countries. The problem in the West is that we've taken the reason for marking it out of the equation and turned it into a purely commercial event designed only to relieve as many as possible from their savings and to make everyone who can't afford to do so feel guilty about it. But it's not the con-artists in marketing and advertising who are to blame according to our secularisers - its the Churches who want to keep God in it who are responsible for the "guilt."
We won't have a Christmas tree this year, we haven't a place for it, but we will celebrate the feast with church, a great meal with family and possibly a glass or two with our neighbours. There is a star displayed in our window and there will be other decorations once Advent draws to a close.
I live in hope that one day Britain will wake up and realise that those who wish to denigrate everything on the grounds that it "may" be offensive to someone need to be treated with the contempt they deserve and ejected from office and from any public forum. They are nothing but parasites who debilitate our society and will, if allowed to, destroy everything of any value in our culture. It is time to call a halt to their activities.
It is the season of Christmas, and the joy is in the sharing of that celebration, with or without the assault on a credit card.
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