Every morning I wake up on

The wrong side of capitalism

Wishing you a subtractive Christmas, and a generic New Year

I’ve enjoyed a fine secular Christmas: my sisters and I cooked the turkey (along with some pikelets for Christmas tea), we all sat round opening presents, and later watched the Two Ronnies (an entirely inexplicable programme). And I wonder if k-punk is quite right to emphasize Christmas as an example of “decaffeinated belief.” Maybe we can identify two forms of secularism around Christmas. There’s the kind of multiculturalism k-punk, following Žižek, rightly attacks, in which everyone’s identity is “respected,” so long as they don’t break the rules and make anyone uncomfortable. So you get the “holidays,” a chain of equivalence of winter festivals Solstice=Yule=Christmas=Channukah=Kwanzaa. Hence the re-branding of specific Christmas traditions as “holiday” traditions (”holiday trees,” etc), which manages to be offensive to Christians and non-Christians alike.

But I’m not sure that, for most people in the UK at least, the secularism of Christmas is like that; the festival is not a celebration of identity whether in the full-blooded fundamentalist sense as the true identity, or in the decaffeinated multiculturalist sense of one identity among others. Christmas seems more like a purely excessive celebration, with Christianity simply the latest specific reason to be overcome. Most people no longer work in agriculture, but we continue to celebrate in winter: this isn’t a disavowed Solstice celebration, but a celebration _in spite of the irrelevance_ of solstice. Likewise, Christmas is not a disavowed celebration of the birth of Christ, but a celebration predicated on the irrelevance of Christianity. Practised in this way, Christmas would be the direct opposite of the multicultural “holidays” — an unbounded sum of negations, rather than a chain of identities.

That, at least, is what I hear when I listen to the Girls Aloud Christmas CD, which, and I don’t think this is a coincidence, contains no carols (and at least one track — ‘Not Tonight Santa’ — which really ought to make its way into the Christmas airplay heavy rotation).



  1. yes, christmas does seem to be a celebration (if I’ve understood you properly) just for the sake of celebrating.

    Comment by rachel @ 12/29/2005 11:25 am

  2. That is indeed what I meant. I wish I could have put it so succinctly. Did you have a good Christmas?

    Comment by Tim @ 12/29/2005 1:52 pm

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