Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Festivus for the rest of us?

Last year I was still a bit shell-shocked when Christmas came around. I kind of just went through the motions, oh and I still thought Jesus and God were real too, that's kind of significant I suppose. However, throughout the year I lost one and then the other, found one again, lost them again. You know how it goes. Now I find myself 3 days out from Christmas wondering W(hy)TF I am still buying into the Christmas season when I don't even believe in Christ?!

A friend of mine told me a couple of nights ago that they don't celebrate Christmas and it kind of triggered me into thinking "oh yeah, that's right I probably ought to re-assess what I'm doing here". Particularly because apathy/paralysis have conspired to lead me to this point -3days out!!!- with no friggin' clue of what I am doing!

Well I came across this article today which reminded me that Christmas (a force unto itself/an entity not unlike say a corporation) actually borrowed many of it's feel good traditions from paganism. Now I'm no expert so please pick me up on my incorrectness. My understanding is that after a long cold winter, people would celebrate the Winter Solstice with food, wine, dancing, tree decorating etc etc. Now when I realised/remembered this I was so happy because I love the tree, the snow, the cute little robins and twigs, the cake, the wreath, the food, the music... oh how do I love the music!!! and I don't have to toss it out along with my belief in the Jesus story. LOT's of it can stay, yay!

Oh, and my kids still love the Jesus story and it is kinda sweet so I'll keep the cutesy versions and just add some more myths of my own as I find them.

Now last night (why oh why didn't I bring my camera?!) Toby and I took the kids into town to have dinner with my brother and his girlfriend and son, my other brother and my dad. It was RAD. We went to Miss Maud . It is a Swedish restaurant all homely and snug. It was decorated with pine garlands and fake snow. There was a giant gingerbread house in the middle of the smorgasboard!! and the band played lovely Christmassy tunes all night. Everyone had a great time. This will have to become a tradition I think!

Then a friend reminded me of the fact that we live in Australia and our Solstice is of the summer variety at this time of year. Our festivities involve the beach and cold beer and food. She also reminded me of this song. Love it!

...and finally some sage advice from my most pagan of friends was a renaming of the day itself.


Oh, how I love this new name! I certainly plan on using it in my newly atheist family. When religious types are around I may go easy on them for a while yet and just harp on about the solstice but giftmas is a keeper.

Oh and Bowie reminded me earlier today of how much fun it is to be able to write X-mas now with no fear of thunderbolts!!

So, I plan on spending some more energy looking into ways to merge a Winter/Summer Solstice celebration that will allow me to retain everything that I love about Christmas/Winter Solstice traditions whilst paying homage to my very hot homeland of Australia.


  1. I've been wondering similar things lately. Mostly because Christmas just seems really different this year. It's not like it hasn't been good in the past, but I'm really excited to spend Christmas with my wife and kids this year. I think the guilt of missing out on the meaning of Christmas is gone. It's going to be a time to spoil them, let them know I love them and just have a great time celebrating new life, love and all of that.

    Outwardly Christmas is going to be much the same of years past, but I think I've found the true meaning of it this year, and it doesn't involve guilt, church services or any of that crap!


  2. It's true -- Christians stole Xmas from the pagans. Time to steal it back! Put Saturn back into Saturnalia!

    Merry Giftmas to all!

  3. Please tell me you will include the "airing of grievances" this season? It is the best part of Festivus, after all.

  4. That must be it Koda, I think that a lot of the pressure and confusion is wearing off and I feel free to enjoy this holiday season however I would like to. I've noticed that there is a significant amount of religious pressure that I no longer feel, e.g. no need to concern myself with a countdown to 'the birth', Christmas Family Home Evenings where I used to invite my inactive family members feeling that I was supposed to showcase my happy family being all religious, reverence etc etc. There's nothing to mess up now, it's all casual and very relaxed. Phew! such a relief and a pleaseure.

    Saturnalia! thanks, another avenue for me to explore :)

    Well, let me tell you AngryBaker, I didn't plan on doing this but it just kind of came up last night when a certain someone din't get home in time for me to go to the outdoor movies with my friends!!!!! It was a super hot day and I had been reallllly looking forward to sitting under the pine trees with my friends and a picnic and then watching the subtitled movie under the stars. So, some one got to listen to a list of grievances last night! sigh. I made the most of the little time I did have by going for a night time beach walk instead :P

  5. I thought the feats of strength were the best part. Anyway, happy holidays.

  6. Nothing like a good bit of healthy competition to bring people together.

    I just watched a kids Christmas cartoon where everyone was dancing and singing after their Christmas dinner. I wish our families were into that.

  7. How rude of me! Happy Holidays Retief :)

  8. Well said. You are wise beyond your years. One concept of Christmas that ought to be considered, (and believe me, I'm f'd up) is that nothing can make a warmer heart than helping or giving to someone in need. If you observe Christmas for no other reason than to recognize the needs of others, then you've embraced the very concept of Christmas! Enjoy!

  9. Exactly, 'Peace and good-will to ALL men (and women)' is a sentiment that I am more than happy to snuggle up to.

    As for the wise beyond my years compliment :) I am so glad of it. I was always a somewhat serious and studious child but if that fast forwarded me into leaving the church then I am more than happy to have been so 'grown up'. It really struck me the first time I heard Christopher Hitchens talking about losing God being a crucial part of 'growing up'. Glad I got there relatively early.

    I have really enjoyed having everyone home for 'Christmas'.

    See you around the bloggersphere in 2011! Happy Holidays Smoking Joe (p.s. I saw that a recent post of yours called 'OK, what is it' disappeared, did you mean for it to? I can't seem to get to it.