Avoiding Christmas?

It’s Christmas, in case you hadn’t noticed. Many people bemoan the commercialisation of the holiday not to mention the fact that it starts about mid-June! Many ‘non-Christians’, that is to say, those who do not practise and may not even believe in God. Some feel this also undermines the true meaning of Christmas. Most antiquity scholars agree that Jesus, as a person, did exist and that he was baptised by John the Baptist. His nativity, the virgin birth and miraculous events such as turning water into wine (goals!) are somewhat more debatable.

Other religious festivals such as Eid and Hanukkah, for example, can easily pass by those who are not part of a particular religion but Christmas is unavoidable, should you wish to avoid it. Specifically, what does a non-Christian do on the 25th December when all the shops and public transport shut down and even the television is completely taken over by Christmas? Many people in ‘normal’ industries (ie not hospitality or retail) will have a sizeable chunk of time off over Christmas whether they celebrate it or not. Having said that, there are reports of non-Christians actually volunteering to work certain days so that their Christian colleagues can have the day off. Very Christmas-spirited.

Initial research has shown that a surprising number Muslims and Jews, for example, do take part in certain Christmas traditions such as a family lunch and maybe a tree. Gift-giving is sometimes less common for Muslims as they do this for Eid (the celebration of the end of the fasting month, Ramadan). Tesco recently received complaints about their 2017 Christmas advert because it featured a Muslim family. One wonders whether the complaints were in fact from Muslims as it seems a number do in fact take part in the celebrations especially if they have close friends who are Christian. And why not? There seems no sensible reason why they should not in the spirit of inclusivity.

It’s often mentioned on TV shows and in films, mainly American, that a traditional ‘Jewish Christmas’ involved going out for Chinese food. It seems this is not just a stereotype with reports of Chinese restaurants in America being impossible to get into without a reservation on Christmas.

It is becoming increasingly common for people, including Christians, to volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens on Christmas day. It’s a way to put your forced day off to good use by helping those in need.

Pagans have a festival called Yule. To be honest, it sounds rather similar to Christmas and indeed it happens just before. Many think that Christmas was originally a pagan festival which was appropriated by Christians as a way of celebrating the birth of Jesus, the date of which is actually unknown.

So it seems that many non-Christians, which, let’s face it, probably applies to many of those who do celebrate, don’t actually go out of their way to avoid Christmas at all. They join in in their own way. And why not? They may as well because surely it is literally impossible to ignore it completely. Even if you hide under the duvet, keep the TV and radio switched off and refuse to see anyone, which one atheist (single, surprisingly) did report doing, you are not really ignoring it but allowing it to force you into being a recluse.

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