I have half a mind to start a new campaign to "Take Christ out of Christmas."
Let me explain. For the majority of people in Britain Christmas is a time for families to get together, exchange presents, eat good food, watch TV (, and argue).
I have nothing against this.
I like presents.
I like good food.
I like worthwhile TV.
I like families.
(but which is best? There's only one way to find out ... [that parochial allusion will make no sense ot Americans])
But this is not Christmas. It is a secular Winter Festival. So here is my inclination - Let's take the 'Christ' out of 'Christmas' and call it for what it is - Wintermas.
The countdown to Wintermas is not Advent but something else - let's call it Mad-Spent (as everyone went mad and spent lots of money that they did not have).
Now the common Christian reaction to this is to chastise the world and to call it to "Put Christ back in Christmas". But I have two problems with this:
1. I don't see why non-Christians should be expected to celebrate a Christian festival. Why should they? And why should we get irritated if they do not? (And let's be honest - Christmas was a pagan Winter festival before we borrowed it anyway)
2. I think that the sober reality is that even if the population in general did put Christ back in Christmas it would be as no more than a bolt-on to the real focus of interest - Wintermas. It is not obvious to me that this is a desirable state of affairs.
So perhaps we need to try a different strategy. Perhaps we need to put some clear blue water between Advent and Mad-Spent and between Christmas and Wintermas.
Perhaps we need to accept that the British public at large are not Christians and are not going to be celebrating Christmas. So perhaps we should let Britain have its Wintermas and our focus needs to be on helping the Church to do Advent and Christmas well - to reclaim them, as it where.
Now that is a challenge because most Christians I know - myself included - are much more devoted to celebrating Wintermas than we are to celebrating Christmas. So if we want to put Christ back in Christmas then let's start by setting our own house in order!
- Robin Parry
- Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).