Humbug

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Current Events, Personal Whining

Yesterday I was downtown at the SFContario2 SciFi conference.  I finished up at about 2 p.m. and worked my way home, striving to get out of the city before the craziness of the Santa Claus Parade could complicate things.  No, I didn’t feel any desire to go and check it out for a number of reasons.

Christmas to me is a time when people have an excuse to be nice to each other, there’s lots of visiting, good food and festivity.  I don’t dislike Christmas, but I do dislike some of the things that are commonly bundled with it.

First of all from a religious point of view, …well maybe we shouldn’t even go there.  Jesus wasn’t born in December.  Even Christian scholars would agree that the events described in the Bible around the birth of Jesus would have had to happen in the Springtime.  Christmas was placed near the Winter Solstice in order to subvert and replace existing pagan holidays, just like many European churches were built on top of old pagan religious sites in order to completely usurp the old religions.  Many Christmas traditions, like the tree, are holdovers from these other Pagan beliefs.  Evergreen trees were considered symbols of continuing life and hope, while all other green plants died in the winter.  Evergreen boughs were brought into the home and decorated, while live trees were often decorated outside.  Christmas trees didn’t become part of the Christian tradition until the mid 1800’s.

Santa Claus, while loosely connected with European figures of St. Nicholas and Sinterclaus, really is a North American invention which came about in the early 1900’s as a result of several stories, songs and, notably, a Coca-Cola commercial.  He’s about as commercial as it gets, which one reason why I have some difficulty with Christmas.  In yesterday’s Santa Claus Parade here in Toronto, one float was blessed with the political correctness of a Mrs. Claus, who happened to be sponsored by the other red and while Canadian corporation, Canadian Tire.

Christmas has become a monster of commercialism, notably demonstrated by the orgy of shopping that will take place this coming weekend.  Children are taught to want “stuff” that their parents will have to go out and buy just so it can be enjoyed for a few weeks before often being put in a cupboard and forgotten.  God forbid that you give anyone a hand made, personal gift.  For many, that would be considered tantamount to an insult.  (Fortunately that’s not true of many of my friends.)  (I always remember that commercial from years ago when the man bought his wife a watch and she responded by saying, “But I really wanted a Longines”.)

The Santa Claus Parade is all about commercialism.  It’s put on by store owners to promote the shopping season and stir up feelings for new stuff in the minds of impressionable children.  In many ways it is a repulsive spasm of a misguided society.  We’re now beginning to see that misguided nature.  We’re recognizing that we are being manipulated to buy until we get into debt.  We are seeing that Wall and Bay Streets are playing us into a financial maze.

Hopefully we are beginning to understand that he/she who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win.

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