Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas for non-Christians

We celebrate Christmas. Or solstice, or Saturnalia, or whatever. We have stockings, Christmas trees, presents. Firstborn helped set up the manger scene at my parents’ house this past weekend. (It has a delightful collection of little pewter animals, and my father built a sort of lincoln-logs-on-a-wooden-base setup for the manger itself.) We won’t be attending services, let alone midnight mass, because, y’know, we’re not actually Christian in a religious sense.

Even so, there’s plenty to celebrate. For one thing, there's a lot of Christmas that isn’t actually Christian in a religious sense. And culturally, we are Christian: Christianity is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of religion, Christian holidays are the ones we grew up celebrating, and Christian churches are the ones that we will definitely not be attending.

I've ranted before about my deep and profound loathing for the holiday season, but the holiday itself I rather like. And despite my lack of religious faith, I don't see any particular reason not to celebrate the parts I enjoy.

The Christmas songs are, of course, explicitly religious, but that's not as hard to fix as you might think:
Adeste infideles, laeti triumphantes;
venite et bibate cervisia!

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Ich habe dich getötet.
Ich schneide sie ab und brachte sie in.
Mein Boden ist in Ihrem Nadeln begraben.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Ich hätte lassen Sie wachsen!

Or you could go with something more contemporary; I was recently introduced to White Wine in the Sun:

Whatever you're doing for the holidays, be safe and enjoy yourselves. Feel free to talk about your plans, traditions - or, if you prefer, your deep hatred for retail work and general disgust with Christmas Carols - in the comments. Or correct my German. Or whatever. Consider this an open thread.


  1. December is the time I most feel the crushing weight of the Christian hegemony. Soon we will put up our banners and the inflatable dreidel* and the giant light-up Star of David, building our fortress against the Santa-strewn masses of the War of Christmas army.

    Speaking of dreidels, yesterday I taught my Girl Guide troop how to play. I couldn't find any nut-free gelt** for the allergic girl, so we had to settle for Kisses. It's not quite the same, but they seemed to enjoy it.

    *Actually, I'm not sure the inflatable dreidel still inflates. It doesn't help that when I was younger I used it as a Sit n' Bounce.

    **Gelt doesn't deliberately contain nuts, but one brand didn't clean the equipment and the other was sold at the Bulk Barn, where nothing is safe.

  2. My wife just taught Firstborn how to play last week. They had a great time. (She went to a predominantly Jewish - if not explicitly Jewish, I forget - high school, so this is something of a fond memory for her.) They were playing for pretzels, mainly because that was what we had in the house.

    I'm doing pretty well this year, in that I've successfully avoided being overwhelmed by Christmas Carols.

  3. I haven't been hit too hard with the carols either. Three of the five local stations that play a lot of oldies and eighties stuff are business as usual, and CBC Radio 2 is still cranking out its mix of news, classical, and pretentious Canadian indie. Christmas carols are so much less terrible when you're not exposed to them constantly.

  4. I try to stay out of the stores this time of year so as not to become violently ill listening to Christmas music. It's not that I hate it. It's that I hate to hear it repeated to the point of nausea.

  5. I'm less worried about the point of nausea than about the point of homicidal, axe-weilding frenzy...


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