Saturday, 12 December 2015

Happy Holidays, Kriss

A lot of people are getting very upset about the seasonal greeting of 'Happy Holidays', maintaining that this is a Christian country and the correct expression is Merry Christmas. We'll leave alone the fact that Christmas now seems to extend from mid October to February, but personally I couldn't care less what people call it.

Times change, as do traditions. It used to be called Yule and also Saturnalia, just as Easter was once the festival of Eostre. Christians merely superimposed their newfangled festivals on pre-existing ones - it was much easier than trying to set up new holidays, especially when you were a bit hazy about the dates. That said, I'm certain most would not have complained about having some additional days off work; mind you, that wouldn't have gone down too well with the feudal landlords or the church, which was also a very large landlord.

As for this being a Christian country, recent surveys have disproven than. Less than 50% now identify themselves as Christian (still a sizeable section of the population, but in terminal decline), yet only 6% are regular churchgoers.

Then there are those who maintain our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. Which ones - Exodus or Deuteronomy? I don't know when we last stoned adulterers or jailed people for coveting, but the principles espoused by Jesus were being taught by Buddha some 500 years before Christ even appeared on the scene.

Imagine a conversation in the year 350AD:

Druid No.1: "What's this new greeting people are using for Yule - Merry Christmas?"

Druid No.2: "I know. This land has been pagan for 4,000 years and then these bloody immigrant Romans bring in a new tradition. Disgusting!"

Druis No1: "I wouldn't mind so much, but it was only a couple of hundred years ago they brought in those other gods - Jupiter, Neptune and the others. Can't they make their minds up? Have they no respect for tradition?"

Druid No. 2: "You mark my words - it'll be those damned Saxons from over the water next. I hear they're having some economic problems and want to migrate. Coming here, taking all our jobs!"

Humans have an innate desire to keep things as they are - to surround themselves with like-minded people, to treat their house as their castle, harking back to halcyon days (which were anything but halcyon). This need to keep things fixed and immovable could also be the root of the belief in an afterlife where you just exist in an unchanging environment, meet up with old buddies and perpetually yarn about the good old days forever. Oh, and moan about the influx of new souls (I don't doubt that if heaven does exist that there will be Muslims, Poles and what-have-you there) who want to change everything and destabilise the status quo. Status Quo - I mean the rock band - an apt analogy; the same old stuff.

I wonder if heaven has a special section reserved just for people who lived in Old Sodbury and were born in the mid 1950s? That truly would be heaven, but only if they were from a certain socio-economic stratum and went to public school...

Talking of Christmas, we managed to get through our Christmas card list yesterday and posted them all off. I thought about selecting a few addresses at random from Google Maps and just sending the people at those addresses a Christmas card saying: "I don't know you; you don't know me, but I thought I'd send you a Christmas greeting." Might just do it, but locally and closer to Christmas.

While doing the cards, I wrote one for Chris, our postie. Hay informed me his name was Stu, not Chris. Now I've been calling him Chris all year and he hasn't gainsaid it once. In fact, it was Hay who told me it was Chris, but apparently she was thinking of the previous postie. Anyway, problem sorted - gave him his card and told him that he might have been confused about me calling him Chris all the time, but, as he could gather from my Dutch surname, I hail from across the water where the word 'kriss' is a familiar term, like 'mate'. Not sure if the bought it...

As for the correct seasonal greeting - you call it what you want to call it and I'll call it what I want to call it. Problem solved!