Posts Tagged ‘christmas’
Regardless of how anti-religion you may be, you have to admit that it does have some advantages.
Christmas, for example. A few days off work for many people across the country to enjoy the company of family and friends you seldom see; to indulge in a festive food and drink feast; to make the most of a rare opportunity to learn the names of neighbours you never speak to as you receive their annual card through the letterbox.
However opposed you may be to religion, without it, there would be no Christmas and we’d probably have to make do with a solitary day off during the New Year’s Day bank holiday.
But while there might not be much wrong with simply taking advantage of an opportunity to hand out gifts and have a good party or two, is it not a bit strange that so many anti-religious folks up and down the country would even want to join in with a time of year that has long been associated with a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ? Especially when bearing in mind that those very people don’t believe in Jesus in the first place?
Christians are often referred to by their most ardent opponents as being people who believe in an imaginary being.
If that’s the case, then it’s a rather weird situation to find so many countries around the world joining in to celebrate the birth of an imaginary being.
And if you believe in the existence of Jesus, but not that he was the Son of God, then have you ever stopped to consider just why his birth was unique enough to warrant a worldwide celebration?
Surely there can’t be just one man in the history of the world who deserves to be singled out and celebrated?
What about Gandhi? Or Mother Teresa? I’d bet that the overwhelming majority of people wouldn’t know the date that either of those inspirational figures were born, nor even the year.
Christians believe that Jesus is God’s son, who came to earth to show us how to live. Non-believers often try to disprove the existence of God, and much of society believes that the answers to life can be found elsewhere – and that we’ve “moved on” from needing God.
Just where we’ve moved on to exactly, and whether it’s for better or for worse is open to debate. Yes, there have been developments over history that have had a positive impact on humanity. The abolition of slavery, for example.
But what about the rapidly increasing culture of individualism and human rights? Not so much in the sense of genuine fairness, but rather in the sense that a person may demand the right both to free speech, and also the right not to be offended – two contradictory views which are demanded by the same person, and at the same time. It’s about them, and them only.
And what of materialism and the pursuit of wealth, which is often considered the ultimate goal for the majority. Life is about achieving a good job with an ever-increasing income, followed by a long prosperous retirement with a nice fat pension. That’s the dream; that’s what is to be aspired to, right?
These are two of the more selfish characteristics of modern Britain, but are values which youngsters are being raised to adopt in a more and more competitive society.
During his time on earth, Jesus taught about loving others, and putting them first. It’s a completely contradictory set of values to those we’re given by our modern society.
Maybe that’s the kind of thing which convinced enough people that he was special enough that his birth be universally celebrated, and for time itself to be marked by his birth.
CS Lewis, an atheist who tried to disprove Christianity and ultimately found too much evidence in support of it actually being true, claimed that Jesus could only have been one of the following three things:
1. a liar who made a claim that he was the Son of God – when he knew full well that he was not
2. a lunatic, who genuinely believed that he was the Son of God, when he actually was not
3. the Son of God, ie he was exactly who he said he was.
A fourth option, some might add, is that he didn’t exist in the first place. History clearly proves that theory wrong. That leaves one of the other options as the only ones that can have any credibility.
So, as you sit down to eat your turkey this Christmas, ask yourself this question: Will you be celebrating the birth of a random historical figure who was either a mad man or a liar? Or will you be celebrating the birth of the most inspirational man in history, a man who was the Son of God?
Personally, I don’t join in with the celebrations of key moments in the Islamic or Hindi calendars, and nor do I hold parties to celebrate the birth of invisible men who didn’t exist. I’d consider myself to be a rather strange individual if I did.
In an increasingly competitive world, Christian values are becoming less and less fashionable in modern society. But to me and to countless millions of other people around the world, Christianity and its values still make sense.
And certainly more sense than joining other non-believers around the country in celebrating the birth of a historical person who we don’t even believe in.
One festive tradition is that of the Christmas hit song.
It’s a time of year – maybe the only time of the year – when tracks by the likes of Wham!, Slade, Wizzard and Shakin’ Stevens are played over the airwaves.
Whether hearing them on the radio at home or work, or when we’re out shopping on the high street, such famous festive tunes have become as big a part of the traditions in the run up to Christmas that we’d be lost without them.
They’re true classics, but each year I wonder whether there will ever be a new addition to the collection.
It’s 23 years since Chris Rea was Driving home for Christmas, which was also the year in which Cliff Richard was enjoying success with Mistletoe and Wine. The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York has been with us even longer, having been recorded in 1987.
Since then, it’s doubtful that anything other than Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You has made a lasting and worthy contribution to the array of Christmas hits that we all enjoy with, and even that was 17 years ago.
There have been a few failed attempts over the years, and many covers recorded by newer stars in that time, but nothing has truly stuck with us, nor seems likely to.
The way in which the modern music industry works has surely been a factor, with most “success” coming from a reality talent show win which aims to provide instant fame and fortune.
Modern number ones are seldom the product of a great record, but of a Facebook campaign or a TV talent show combined with mass media exposure, and within a week or two, the track is already forgotten about by most.
In 2010, 34 different songs reached top spot. That compares with just 14 in 1984, some of which are still widely heard today.
In today’s over-saturated music world, even if an original Christmas hit song was recorded and had the potential to cement a place amongst the classics of years gone by, the chances are that it wouldn’t get the exposure necessary to remain in people’s minds long enough to see in the New Year, let alone still be getting played on the radio twenty years later.
So while the wait goes on for a modern Christmas classic, we’ll have to be content with singing along to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and co. Considering most of the artists dominating popular music today, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all.
In consumer Britain, Christmas is the time of year when more money is handed over to retailers than at any other.
I was walking past a John Lewis store on Thursday, where the window display comprised entirely of a Christmas theme. On the glass was the phrase: “Everything you need for your home this Christmas”.
Which made me think. What does one actually need for their home, not just this Christmas, but any Christmas?
We have become such a nation of consumers, a habit maintained even amongst the worst economic times many of us have experienced, that seeing a phrase like that will only make us start to think of a whole list of things which we should buy.
The Christmas tree – a real one, which will see just a single festive season.
Decorations – bigger and better than last year’s.
Candles – larger and more “Christmassy” than the ones we already have on the fireplace.
Chocolates – that big box with festive packaging.
Whether celebrated for religious or faith reasons, because it’s a time of year when familes have an annual get together, or simply you have time off from work, it’s nice to add a bit of colour to your home for the festive season.
But the question remains: How much do we really need to buy and spend at Christmas? How much of what is spent ends up being wasted? And how much do we need this Christmas which we don’t already have from a previous year? (ie decorations)
If we’re all honest, the answer is not much. Not much at all.