Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Hardest Time of the Year

Until very recently you should look very hard to find anyone speak openly against Christmas. One of those lone dissenting voices was Phoebe Cates' character in Gremlins. Her diatribe against Christmas was one of the most subversive things to appear in the embodiment of Hollywood family entertainment.

However, these days more and more people not only share her sentiments, but even come out of Christmas-haters closet and express it. According to the recently published, more than half of people in Holland would prefer Christmas to be celebrated any second or fourth year rather than every year. In Austria and Germany there is interesting phenomenon of so-called "Santa-free zones" – shops and bars where people may gather in this time of year without anything to remind them of Christmas.

The reason for the appearance of such sentiments has little to do with the spread of atheism or militant secularism in modern Europe. Most people who don't like Christmas aren't opposed to Christmas per se – they are simply getting fed up with Chritsmas as it is celebrated in today's world.

In the past, Christmas was part of local family tradition. In today's globalised world Christmas can't serve this function, because thanks to popular culture and modern media, there is only one way in which people are supposed to celebrate Christmas – presents under the tree, Christmas turkeys, old bearded man, snow and reindeers etc. People are supposed to celebrate Christmas that way regardless of living in Alaska, Sahara or New Guinea. This vision of Christmas being popularised by American movies also contributed to anti-Christmas backclash in today's atmosphere of growing anti-Americanism.

Another, even more important and more obvious reason for people not to celebrate Christmas is in its utter commercialisation. Somehow the whole idea behind the Christmas is being buried under Christmas shopping. With the Christmas shopping world comes to a halt, streets and roads are clogged with increased traffic and, last but not least, a holiday which was supposed to be a time of joy turns into sometimes unbearable financial burden. And the joy people used to get from the family-oriented Christmases is lost in today's world of individuals who often see Christmas as a reminder of their own age, solitude and alienation. Many who cherish their personal freedom often begin to see Christmas as one of rare, and therefore, extremely annoying occasions when they don't spend their money and time in a way they would like.


Blogger DarkoV said...

I'm in complete agreement; the pressure to buy the "perfect" gift can drive you to drink. Back when i was a kid growing up in Zagreb, we'd celebrate Sveti Nikola day more than Dec. 25th. Lucifer (Krampus) would come to the hall or church where all of us kids were. He'd shake his chains, threaten us with eternal damnation, give us coal, and just generally scare the living hell out of us all. As we sat there, crying and immobile, Sveti Nikola would come in, give us an orange and (maybe) a little gift. We'd leave relieved and almost happy.
That's what's missing from today's method of celebration, a good dose of fear and shaking. Are you still celebrating Sveti Nikola there now?

6:17 PM  
Blogger Dragan said...

Not exactly. St. Nicholas is still celebrated, some children receive gifts, but it is nothing compared to Christmas.

"Krampus", on the other hand, is a custom related to northern parts of Croatia. When Krampus was introduced on state-run HRT in early 1990s, Gibonni, one of Croatia's most popular singers - who happens to come from Split - didn't have a clue what "Krampus" was when asked about it during a talk show.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are considerable advantages to not celebrating Christmas and New Year. It's a great time to get well paid casual work.

You can party, give gifts and make resolutions at any time of year.

Agree with Darkov. Christmas gives children the belief that "Santa" owes them something, and they no longer worry that they might not get presents if they behave badly. The belief in Santa stops them from thanking their parents for the presents they have gone into debt for.

Non commercial christmasses are a good idea. You give gifts to all the guests, but you are not allowed to buy any gifts, everything must be made by you, or otherwise provided without money (although e.g. buying paints for a picture is acceptable)

5:29 AM  

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