Walking through the shopping centre, the unmistakable sound of The Fairytale of New York filled the air. If there were ever an anti-consumerist Christmas anthem, it must be it: two drunks without a cent to spend sharing their dreams on a cold and bleak Christmas morning, not much scope for success by slick advertising campaigns.
The need to constantly reinvent our consumerist culture underlines its essential futility. Despite there being no Thanksgiving holiday, advertisers decided there would be a “Black Friday.” Even the primary school class last week complained about the silliness of a day which was about no more than shopping. Presumably, generations that becomes streetwise at earlier and earlier ages will force executives to abandon that marketing ploy and develop some other excuse for bombarding communities with advertising for things that are neither wanted nor needed.
Today, according to a notice in a shop window, is “Cyber Monday.” The shopkeeper presumably did not appreciate the irony of the advertisement; the intention of “Cyber Monday” is to encourage people to shop online, with the inevitable consequence that shopkeepers become an increasingly rare species.
It is all baffling. What motivates the annual spending frenzy and burst of frantic hyper-activity? Sometimes, people without religious convictions have articulated what it means for them, words like “family” and “childhood” are cited. People of a more pagan persuasion are more frank; it is mid-winter, the solstice is past, the days are lengthening, the sunshine and the warmth are returning. Perhaps there is more integrity among the pagans and their celebration of the solstice than in those who persist in talking about “Christmas,” whilst doing everything possible to exclude its religious content.
There are often comments posted on social media suggesting that Muslims, or other religious groups, are responsible for such terminology as “Happy Holidays”, despite the fact that Muslims are explicit in their declaration that they have no problem with the religious celebration of Christmas. The Muslim “Keep Calm it’s Christmas” campaign suggests that the “Happy Holidays” lobby owes much more to those of an aggressive secular inclination than to any religious-based objection to Christmas.
The exclusion of Christmas cribs, and other Christian symbols, from places like hospitals, arises most frequently from those who are simply intolerant of Christianity yet claim their intolerance arises from a desire to be “inclusive.” Inclusive of whom? One might ask. It would be interesting one year to monitor the seasonal activities of the aggressive secularists, theirs is the most illogical of behaviour. What is it they are celebrating?