I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas (for obvious reasons – it is, after all, Christmas Eve). And I’ve been thinking a lot about not presents, or food, or carols, although those things have also taken up a lot of brain space of late. No, I’ve been thinking about Christmas itself, why we make such a big deal about it, why it’s so special. I mean, what’s so special about a baby that many people don’t even care about? Christmas is, after all, a Christian holiday – it’s all in the name. Christ-mas. The feast of Christ.
And yet, every year in this (supposedly) secular world of ours, governments spend millions of dollars dolling their cities up for the occasion. Businesses follow their lead and ply us with sales and advertisements, reminding us endlessly to buy our Christmas presents NOW and avoid the rush/take advantage of this great sale/get the perfect gift, but only from OUR store.
But what about those who don’t celebrate Christmas? They have to deal with it too, and they don’t even care. At my work, I am a minority. The people I work with are Chinese, Jewish, Hindu Indian. They don’t give a fig about the birth of Christ, and yet they too have to face the carols and the ‘Merry Christmas’ stickers and the onslaught of customers in the few days proceeding the big day. It’s just not fair. And more than that, if Australia is the land of multiculturalism (and that’s a debate for another day) then it’s un-Australian.
Here’s what I think. I, as an Anglo Westerner with a Christian background, am fine with celebrating Christmas. I’m even fine with it being a public holiday. But I’m not fine with shoving it down the throats of an entire society. In the Western world, we believe ourselves to be secular, that we have successfully separated government and religion. This is not the case. How can it be, when the city pays for extravagant Christmas decorations every year? We, as a society, need to face up to our Christian roots, and acknowledge that we are a society that was founded on Christian values. Maybe then we can realise just what we’re doing to everyone else come Christmas time.