Christmas Rituals, and who are they for? Saturday, Dec 19 2015 


Sorry another long and serious one.  If that’s not for you kitty pics are here:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=kitty+pics&safe=off&rlz=1C1GGGE_en-gbGB487GB488&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9hqvo5ujJAhULHxoKHasLDMwQ_AUIBygB&biw=1299&bih=683#safe=off&tbm=isch&q=kitten+pics+cute

A number of people are posting a poster on Faceboom “That time of year where Christians and Atheists suspend their belief systems to celebrate paganism.’  And it is annoying me in its inaccuracy.  I ignored the first few, but I really need to respond, especially as they are also the people who post ‘Co-exist’ posts.  And yes, I know 600 word replies on Facebook are the height of idiocy.

While many of the traditions established around Christmas, and to a lesser extent Easter, are co-opted from pre-Christian Germanic culture and religious rites, they have been re-purposed to represent Christian ideas and ideals, and so no longer have their original meanings.

For instance the Christmas tree was introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, and is an old Germanic custom. In its translation to Victorian Britain, it lost what ever remnants of the old meanings it had in Dark Age Germany. It was then exported around the world via the British Empire, already stripped of any pre-Christian meaning

To state that Christians are becoming involved in worship on non-Christian entities is misleading at best, and more likely disingenuous- the Christmas rituals that copy non-Christian have acquired a meaning of their own, so the original ideas have been forgotten.  Take for instance eating horse meat.  Why do they eat horse in France, yet to find it in mince in Britain is considered disgusting?  Because British tribes sacrificed horses to their gods, and thus the practice was suppressed by the Church to stop people keeping the association with the ‘Old Gods’.  In France and Belgium this did not need to happen, so horse meat continued to be an acceptable food: in fact a French chef will tell you the real crime of Findus was to ruin it by putting it into lasagne. (In a reverse example very few people know the actual reason the Bride wears white to her wedding- instead it has acquired a mythos that was not present.)

Incidentally ‘pagan’ means ‘person who does not follow an Abrahamic religion’, and thus includes Hindus and Sikhs – the word has been co-opted by those who think it is all about druids and stuff like that, or whatever.  It only means pentagrams etc because THEY have changed the meaning (sound familiar).   Following rituals that Christianity co-opted from other religions does not mean the person is not practicing their Christian beliefs, it means they attach their belief system to those actions, and the actual roots have become unimportant.  They are not following paganism, in the same way the ritual of ‘warming the pot’ is no longer needed, but still carried out by some, unaware of its root.

Likewise I am asked how an atheist can celebrate Christmas.  To start I find the word ‘atheist’ misleading – people don’t use the word ‘afairyist’.  Atheism is not a belief in no gods, it is no belief in any gods.  We don’t describe children as becoming “asantaists” – they don’t go round actively not believing in Father Christmas.  You can call me a Humanist – Humans definitely exist, I just wish they would do better.  Why celebrate? Why not?  As I wrote a week ago it is a European tradition, because nights are long and days are cold (maybe not this year!)  You gather with friends and family to share time, and reaffirm our basic humanity.  Self harm in prisons increases this time of year.  They have access to religion, they don’t spend much time with loved ones.  If it was about the religion than the family it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been to church weddings – nobody assumes I am a Christian because of that.

Celebrating whatever you celebrate this time of year using symbols that may (or may not) have originated with a different culture 3000 years ago doesn’t stop you being whatever you think you are.  So please stop trying to claim other people’s actions unrelated to your beliefs as some sort of victory.

All I want for Christmas… Saturday, Dec 12 2015 


This is a time of stress for me. People will ask me what I want for Christmas, and get upset if I say “nothing”. So, here is what I want:
A couple of Saville Row suits, some handmade shirts from Jermyn Street, and hand crafted shoes from a traditional shoemaker. Oh and silk ties. One red, one dark grey. If you can throw in a Jackpot lottery ticket, a big house and an Aston Martin while you’re at it…

What? Too much? I suppose Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all People and a rebalancing of the World Economy is out the question then?

See, here’s the thing. I like Christmas. I like the shared experience that we have, that Northern European tradition of going “It’s cold and dark, and we’re on dried food for the next three months. Sod it, let’s have a big party.” Sure, it’s been hijacked over the millennia by various mystics, nutters and men in dresses, insisting it is all about their particular gods/goddesses/bunch of rocks/life force, but that is just the excuse: nights are long and days are cold, and people want to be together.

And that is the point. Take me for example. Yes I wargame, pushing toy soldiers that cost [mumble, mumble] across a table. But for me that isn’t the point; no matter how much I might say “I really need some dragoons/panzers/better dice” what I really want from my little lead men is the shared experience- the sitting across a table from a mate, having a beer and a laugh, telling each other stories, and laughing even though it’s the tenth time we’ve told it in the last two years.

It’s not about the possessions. It’s about the shared experiences they allow.

And that’s what I want. You can’t buy it. You can’t wrap it. You can only give it. It’s that shared experience, my sister in law saying something silly, and my brother ragging her on it, the Old Man acting like a silly old fool, the arguments over who had the best card in Apples to Apples. I want my wife not to stress about achieving the unbelievably perfect Christmas, just sit down and enjoy it, because people won’t care that you failed to hit 100%, only that you cared enough to do it

I want to know that in the coming year that my friends will be there for me, and for them to know I will be there for them. I want you all to find the man or woman of your dreams, no matter what your gender, sexuality, or even if you’re an ex! All I ask is that they are someone who deserves you, and loves you like you love them. (Side note to some of my female friends- No seriously, please stop hooking up with dickheads. What do I have to do, interview them myself?)

So stop buying me books I won’t read, clothes I won’t wear, and … ‘stuff’ (Just what the hell am I supposed to do with a lightsabre the size of my thumb?) Just give me the only presents I’ve really ever wanted for Christmas.
Your time, your company and your friendship.

Thank you

PS. My Birthday, however, is in February 😉