HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Yes, we’re well into Advent and I’m a little behind with that greeting, but better late than not at all.
Let’s move on. I have a question for all of you. I mean this question very, very seriously and I really would like all of you to answer it and, if you have the time, give me some, or all, of the reasons for your answer. Here’s the question:
I’m asking this because I have recently been deeply offended by an Advent Calendar I encountered in a non-Christian’s house. I’m sure you all know the principle behind Advent Calendars – there are twenty-four little compartments in such a calendar and one compartment is opened each day from the first of December onwards by the children of the household. In each compartment there is a reading from the Holy Bible detailing some part of the Christmas story together with an appropriate number of little sweet treats for the younglings. The purpose of the treats is to reinforce the messages in the readings by associating them with the lovely taste of the comestibles. In many families the Advent candles for that day are lit as part of the same family moment. It’s a lovely and intimate way of marking off each day of waiting in anticipation for our Saviour’s birthday.
However, in the household that I encountered the so-called Advent Calendar it had cost a small fortune and wasn’t for the children at all. Each of the compartments was enormous and each one was filled with several very expensive gew-gaws and sparkly things each of which had a name tag tied to it bearing the name of a guest at one of the forthcoming parties that were yet to be thrown by my hosts between now and Christmas Eve. There were no readings from the Holy Bible and no suggestion at all that Advent was a Christian fast and period of contrition that should be used to prepare oneself for Christmas. When I (politely and privately) refused my gift and (privately) explained to my hosts why I had done so (it was a pagan artefact offered in a non-believing way at a Christian time) I was met simply with blank looks. I very carefully explained about Advent and expanded on my beliefs as a Christian about it and I finally managed to get through to them and explain what Advent-tide actually is. They genuinely didn’t know, it seemed.
I also put it to them that if they had hi-jacked a symbol of any other faith as they had hi-jacked the Advent Calendar and Advent-tide they would be in severe trouble with many of their ‘progressive’ friends. They agreed, and they had no answer when I asked them (politely and privately) why they thought it right to hi-jack a Christian festival and its symbols, which offended me – and, as it turned out later, several other people at their party but I didn’t know that at the time – and many other Christians but they wouldn’t dare hi-jack anything from any other religion, it turned out that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, give me a straight answer.
This hi-jacking of Christian festivals and symbols to secular purposes has been going on for a very long time, of course. However, this year it seems to be worse than ever. The whole Christmas marketing campaign got off the ground in October. Songs that have nothing to do with Christianity or Christ’s nativity are pushed as carols and belt out of every public address system that one encounters. Traditional Christmas carols have their words entirely rewritten to remove any reference whatsoever to Christ or Christmas and then they too are belted out a full volume from every loudspeaker that unthinking, rude people can assemble. I find it deeply, deeply offensive and I want it to stop.
It’s not just Christmas either. Look at Easter and what’s happened there. The non-Christians have hi-jacked that and turned it into an excuse for binge eating chocolate, of all things! That’s not just offensive; it’s so very, very rude as to be completely beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned.
I want it made illegal for non-Christians to celebrate any Christian festival whatsoever, and right just now I want to start with Advent and Christmas.
As far as I’m concerned if you’re not a Christian then don’t you dare use my religious festivities as an excuse for getting rat-arsed at the works party, for filling your house with tat and pretending that you give a damn, for buying a load of pathetic junk for your kids instead of raising them properly to love you without bribery, and most of all don’t you dare, ever, ever, think that going to midnight mass, or the watchnight service, on Christmas eve once a year whilst leaving the kids with granny is enough.
That you don’t know why it’s not doesn’t matter. That can easily be explained to you.
It’s the fact that you don’t care enough to want to know why it’s not enough, that’s what matters.
I want my festivals back and starting now I’m campaigning to make it illegal for non-Christians to celebrate any Christian festival – especially Christmas and Easter.
If you’re not a Christian then just b____r off and find something else to do. Whilst the good news of Christmas is for all, Christmas festivities are for Christians, not for drunken pagan yobs with the all the spirituality of a half-brick in a sock, or for the purveyors of overpriced tat and tasteless ‘fare’.
Merry Christmas to all believers.
Oh, and will air traffic control please ground those damned flying reindeer – their jingling harness keeps me awake every Christmas eve. Not to mention the damage that dratted sleigh does to my solar panels!
...."(politely and privately)"....
The commercialisation of Christmas is indeed gross.
But aspects of paganism are irretrievably tied up with Christmas and other Christian feasts, and even you refer to Easter, named for a pagan Goddess, in your writings.
And not just feasts, are you going to campaign against the naming of the days of the week?
Or ban the wearing of crosses by non Christians?
John M. Joyce
I disagree with your assertion that "...aspects of paganism are irretrievably tied up with Christmas and other Christian feasts, and even you refer to Easter, named for a pagan Goddess, in your writings." I have dealt with that canard in an article for this magazine in May of 2014. You can find that article by following this link: http://newenglishreview.org/John_M._Joyce/The_Origins_Of_The_Easter_Feast,_The_Easter_Egg_and_The_Easter_Bunny/ Easter, by the way, is most certainly NOT named after a pagan goddess, as you will discover when you read my article. Merry Christmas.
A very interesting article, though I would tend to go for Bede on this one, he lived close enough to those times to know. And Northumbria had a more recent pagan history than other kingdoms. I think he also mentions speaking to a pagan priest in the Ecclesiastical History as well.
What is your view on the role of fire on the.Feast of St John?
And Father Christmas and his reindeer rather than Santa Claus?
John M. Joyce
You would go with Bede!!!!
He can be notoriously unreliable as a witness to any of the tiny details about history whilst being reasonably, but not completely by any means at all, accurate about the broader brushstrokes.
In this case he is the only, the sole and only, completely and utterly alone, person to say that there was such goddess. There are no legends, tales or stories in any culture at any time, and no other writer, not one single other contemporary writer, ever recorded such a goddess. I'm sorry, but going with Bede on this is just sheer perversity and completely at odds with any sensible approach to evidence.
Every writer from that time and earlier gives the real source of the word 'Easter' as I did in the article, and those who study such things agree and have a mountain of evidence to support their case. Please, please reconsider your position.
As I said before, in this case temporal proximity tips the balance in favour of Bede.
Also he would be unlikely to be in favour of promoting pagan beliefs.
I understqnd there is also other linguistic evidence (post Grimm) for a Germanic pagan goddess of a like name who may be associated with the dawn.
Please note that I am not a pagan but of the middling CoE sort (despite my moniker) and have no axe to grind, and my interest in Bede stems from an interest in Geoffrey of Monmouth and his legacy.
John M. Joyce
As I said, sheer perversity and no regard for any actual evidence, or absence of evidence. Intellectual stupidity and delusional correctspeak rules.