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Put the who in the what, now?


As John Stewart points out, Christmas was banned in the early Massachusetts colonies, and Christmas as a holiday was so unimportant to the founding members of Congress that for years they met on Christmas day and worked.  In England during this same period, Christmas was unfashionable, and only "peasants" participated in 12th Night celebrations.  Dickens created what we think of as "Christmas", with a heaping helping of assistance from Prince Albert, who brought that most pagan of symbols, the Christmas tree, over from his native Germany.

Macy's created the modern USian Christmas, with presents, Santa Claus (helped by Coca-Cola dressing him and fixing him in everyone's minds as a white-haired pervert who liked having children on his lap), and their parade, which is only fun if something gets loose.  Animal Crackers added the traditional little white string on their cookie boxes because an executive at the company had the brilliant idea of marketing them as something one could hang on the Christmas tree.

In London, when I was a child, we didn't even get our tree until a couple of days before Christmas day, and it came down on January 6th, come hell or high water (since superstition dictates that you will receive both if you leave the decorations up longer than that). I'm actually very annoyed at the whole "war on Christmas" shenanigans, because this country was built on religious freedoms, not the demand that everyone be the same religion (and those people practicing those religions so adamantly can't even agree amongst themselves which one is "right").  I left a country with a declared national religion, and even there, they don't demand that everyone adhere to it.  No-one has a hissy about "happy holidays", either.  I mean, really, it's ridiculous when the dominant religion in the US, whose members have made unprecedented forays into politics, and demanded that all women adhere to their religious beliefs, and all gay people adhere to their religious beliefs, and actually succeeded in laws being effected to that end, whine that they're being oppressed because everyone isn't required to say "Merry Christmas", whether they celebrate it or not.

Fucking cheek.  And their knowledge of history is about as good as their intentions regarding anyone who isn't a straight white Christian man.  The thing is, there hasn't been a "Christ" in Christmas for almost 170 years.  It's always been about the presents, the decorations, and the big fat goose.

(Though I find This rather hilarious, in a dark way; putting the "CHRIST!!!!!" back in Christmas the best way they know how.)


( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
I entirely agree. :)
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
Yep, because nothing says "Peace on Earth" quite like a tripod mounted machine gun... Wait, what?

I happen to like firearms, and a friend of mine, looking through pictures she'd taken of a group of us, noticed that we all looked quite tranquil and calm - you can't stay pissed off and shoot straight. But still, Santa and heavy hand artillery? No, not unless it's Bubba Claus and those dreadful heads on the wall...
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
Srsly. And thank you for the lovely card :)
Dec. 13th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)

As a liturgical sort of person, I feel that everyone has Completely missed the point - Christmas is from Dec 24 - Jan 6, of course. We're currently in Advent.

I prefer to take my understanding of Christmas from Dickens. Peace on Earth, Good will towards all men (and women), and perhaps a little gospel-inspired remembering the poor, the sick, and the needy.
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
Dec. 13th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
Happy Holidays :)
Dec. 13th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, 1,000 times yes!

As a fellow expat Brit, I hear you on the decorations thing.

When we were little, our parents put up the tree and decorations on Christmas Eve, after we'd gone to bed. When we woke up Christmas morning, there were stockings on our beds to keep us occupied till a civilised time, at which point we were allowed downstairs for breakfast and were greeted by the magical appearance of a tree, decorations and presents.

When we were old enough to go to Midnight Mass (CofE, of course) we'd do the decorations before going to church. After church we'd go to bed, then the 'rents would get out the presents and fill our stockings.

But right now, it's Advent. A time of fasting and preparation, for those who celebrate.

Me, I refuse to get swept up in the whole overspending giftmas thing, so my celebration is limited to a few gifts for a few close friends, a little light charitable donation, and a nice dinner for a few good friends on Dec 25.
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
I decorate now at the beginning of December - but I have an artificial tree, and I love looking at my decorations (now, 70% vintage!). But the rest of it? Meh.

Yeah, we did just about the same thing - though my brother insisted that we put up the tree earlier than Xmas Eve, I think so he could feel the presents ahead of time.
Dec. 19th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
My ornaments are now 70% (or more) vintage, merely because I'm now so old that ones I bought when I left home qualify as that :)
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
I have a fake 18" tree up on my desk for now. The real thing doesn't go up until Christmas eve, like it's sposed to. Always been here in the States, haven't been even nominally a Christian in about 25 years, still like the decorated tree action.
Dec. 13th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
Also, I am reminded of this: Keep the HAN in HANNUKAH
Dec. 13th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
One critique: the Santa-as-pervert thing: yes, it's funny and admirably deconstructs an increasingly jacked-up holiday, but the implication is that every man who enjoys children is a pervert, and that bothers me a bit.

The rest is dead on, though. =)
Dec. 13th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
It was more that he continually wants children to sit on his lap, rather than that he likes children. Bob likes children, and they like him, but he's not determined to have each and every one of them sit on his lap. Also, Santa is often portrayed holding a terrified child, and that always makes me wonder about how people view Santa.

That was where I was coming from.

Dec. 14th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
Ah, gotcha.
Dec. 14th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
Hee hee! Yes, a thousand times yes!

What they're really complaining about is the loss of their Right To Ignore Diversity. We've never been a homogenous nation. Never. We've always had minorities, and now, thank goodness, we acknowledge it. I think it's just the death throes of a pre-internet culture coming to grips with reality.
Dec. 14th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)
Love your link at the end, but the politician's quotes in it scare the hell out of me. What part of "freedom of religion" does this jackass not understand? The part where people are free to NOT be of his (interpretation of) religion? And he's in a position to make policy that decides how other people can and can't live? Not okay.

(Also: Heresy? Seriously? Who does he think he is, the Spanish Inquisition? The religious rant wasn't a surprise, but this slant was unexpected.)
( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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