the Disillusioned kid: Episode IV: The New Seasonal Message
| Email | Home | Linkage | Profile |

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Episode IV: The New Seasonal Message

It's that time of year again. The tree's up, the tinsel's out and Shane MacGowan's been dethawed for his annual outing. Winterval is well and truly upon us. The annual celebration of Cliff Richard's birth is a time closely associated with tradition: the giving of gifts; overconsumption; the singing of carol; the Docto Who christmas special; and, of course, the Disillusioned kid seasonal message. Now in its fourth year (honestly, count 'em) this seasonal event is hotly anticipated by nobody in particular, but might go someway to making up for my generally piss-poor efforts at blogging over the previous year.

Normally my seasonal ramblings consist primarily of various musings on the "War on Christmas" which assorted right-wing nutjobs insist is being waged by a conspiracy of secular-lefty-liberal-PC-islamist-thugs. Invented by American "conservatives" as a stick to beat their political opponents with the concept has been hinted at by some of the nuttier elements of the British right, but has yet to exert any real influence on British political culture. The fact that there isn't and never has been such a conflict outside the paranoid delusions and well-honed persecution complexes of Rebekah Wade and Stephen Green is probably a crucial factor in this absence.

This year I've been fortunate enough to avoid any mention of the War. The tabloids are obviously more interested in writing about a photogenic blond, white girl while the soi-disant "true defenders of the faith" in the BNP are too busy fighting amongst themselves to put up much of a defence. Even their "patriotic Christian" front-group the Christian Council of Britain seems to have nothing to say on the matter. If there were a war it looks like they'd be losing. Which ought to be a comfort.

For what it's worth I enjoy the festive season as much as anybody despite, or perhaps because of, my complete lack of faith. As I've suggested in the past, Christians have no monopoly over winter festivities. Indeed, they are a recurring theme in various cultures. This is hardly surprising. What better cure for the winter blues than a big party? Indeed winter festivities pre-date Christianity's emergence by some way. In fact, th Romans actually held a festival on December 25 which they called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." (Note the parallels with Christianity's birth of the son of God.) Christianity settled on the date largely arbitrarily, although the available evidence (much of it derived directly from biblical accounts) suggests that Christ was most likely born in the autumn. Holding the festival in winter served as a sweetener to putative converts who wouldn't have to give up their traditional parties. This also helps to explain the co-option of pre-Christian symbols such as holly.

To cut a long story short, I have no problem at all with stripping Christmas of its religious content. I don't believe that this inevitably reduces the holiday to a celebration of consumer capitalism. In a post written last year, Jason Godesky argued that gift giving is in a sense a hangover from tribal societies and noted that it offers an alternative to market economics, one operating according to an inherently incompatible logic. On this basis, he concluded, that a society in which Roy Wood got his wish and Christmas was celebrated everyday would be a gift-economy and hence something to be striven for. I know it's hard to believe as you do battle with crowds of angry shoppers to get that last copy of Delia Smith's latest cookbook, but Christmas is, in a small way, a glimpse of a post-revolutionary society. Just with Cliff Richard on the soundtrack.

In my experience, radicals never turn up the opportunity for a party so why should this one be any different? I'll be tucking into my nut roast on Tuesday, supping the odd alcoholic beverage and foreshadowing the coming gift economy as I'm sure will most of you. Enjoy it.

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holidays, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Yalda and/or Yule!

Labels: , ,


Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Side Projects

Carnival of Anarchy
The Peace Pipe
UK Watch Blog


Against the Current
Culture hits and gendered bits
Daniel Randall
In The Water
Mike Wood
On The Barricades
Pizarro's Sword
Space Cat Rocket Ship
Surveillant Assemblage
TashCamUK FotoPage
The Naked Lunch
The Peace Pipe
The World of the Dynamite Lady


Anarchoblogs Blog
Arte & Lingua
Barker in Valencia
Blood & Treasure
Bombs and Shields
Born at the Crest of the Empire
Chase me ladies...
Chicken Yoghurt
Craig Murray
Dead Men Left
Disreputable Lazy Aliens
Empire Notes
Friends of Al Jazeera
Global Guerillas
Guerillas in the Midst
I Blame the Patriachy
Informed Comment
Janine Booth
Lenin's Tomb
Life of Riley Blog
Media Watch Watch
Neil Shakespeare
NO2ID NewsBlog
One Hump or Two?
Otto's Random Thoughts
Pitch In For Uzbekistan
Run over by the truth
Solidarity With Iraqi Workers
Shut Up You Fat Whiner!
Sudan: Passion of the Present
Talk Politics
The Anthropik Network
The Daily (Maybe)
The Devil's Kitchen
The Disillusioned
The f-word
The Head Heeb
The Killing Train
The Revenge of Winston Smith
The Socialist Unity Blog
The Wicked Truth
Theory of Power
Things I Don't Have Time For
This (Fresh) Gringo
This Is My Truth
Thumping the Tub
Time The Dreaded Enemy
UK Watch Blog
UK Poli Blogs
Under The Same Sun
What Fresh Hell Is This?
Where is Raed? (RIP)
Who Are You to Accuse Me?
Words and Rocks
Z-Net Blog


Asbo Community Space
Eastside Climate Action
Faslane 365
No Borders
Nottingham Student Peace Movement
Refugee Forum
Stop the War
Sumac Centre
The Demo Project

Ivory Towers

Anarchist Studies Network
Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice
Postanarchism Clearinghouse


Anarchist FAQ
Chagos Discussion List
Chagos Support Forums
Electronic Intifada
Future of Iraq Portal
Index of Political Blogs
Indymedia UK
Iraq Occupation Focus
Refuser Solidarity Network
Socialist Unity Network
The New Standard
UK Chagos Support Association
UK Watch
Weekly Worker

The Progressive Blog Alliance

Register here to join the PBA.