Thursday, October 25, 2007

Diversity for the Holidays

With Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa falling just days apart, December is indeed the “Holiday Season”. But the question is how egalitarian are we making it these days?

By: Vanessa Uy

First of all, I think the entire “consumer world” owe those people who did their Christmas shopping early a debt of gratitude for inadvertently exposing the dangers of toys with high lead content. Now, kids around the world can look forward to a safer – albeit more expensive – alternatives.

As a Catholic - by geography and not by faith – I am quite fascinated on how “other cultures” celebrate their own Holidays that fall on the Festive month of December. Despite of the relentless thrust of “Commercialization” on seasonal holidays, it’s still nice to know that the majority of people I know didn’t become jaded through the years as they celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa. Some Jewish families that I know still invite me to their Chanukah festivities despite of my criticisms on Israel’s PM Ehud Olmert’s disastrous Summer 2006 incursion into Lebanon. But that’s a topic for another blog.

When it comes to finding a “Kultur Kampf” on how to celebrate December holidays, this can be found between the various Christian sects criticizing one another on how to “properly” celebrate Christmas. As I am a product of the Catholic School System even though I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist, it’s only sensible for me to view the various demarcations on how to properly celebrate Christmas from the Catholic Church’s point of view.

When it comes to the “proper” celebration of Christmas, the Catholic Church has for a very long time viewed the various “Scandinavian” influences on Christmas like the overly generous and jolly Scandinavian Saint and the “pagan” tree that symbolizes generosity with both disdain and suspicion. The “disdain and suspicion” part is the reflection of my older friends’ Catechism School lectures on Christmas commercialization during the time when Ronald Reagan ruled the free world by the way. And when the Industrial Age came with the resulting commodification of goods services, the “Saint” and the “Tree” became the Catholic Church’s benchmarks on the extent on how “commercialized” Christmas has become. Or is this the Church’s critique on the Anglo-Saxon Protestants failure to recognize between what is sacred and what is commodified when it comes to Christmas.

While the Catholic Church is busy criticizing the “commercialization” of Christmas, the Church say nothing about how some Fundamentalist Evangelicals harbor this concept of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. Like these Fundamentalist Evangelicals don’t (won’t?) celebrate Christmas because they see Jesus Christ forever locked in that moment in time feeding the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and a few pieces of fish. This is merely my observation and not a criticism on how to spend ones holidays to reiterate the obvious.

To me, the key in finding – and experiencing – diversity this Holiday Season is by opening up to the wonder of it all. Not too many people enjoy playing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party on Christmas morning just to remove the “auditory aftertaste” of those “A Very Special Christmas Albums” that benefit the Special Olympics. And I paid full price for those CDs.


Guapita said...

Have you arlready seen the "Christmas" cult classics Kiss Saves Christmas or the Star Wars Christmas Special? Although the "proper" title of the Star Wars Christmas Special is "Star Wars Holiday Special". The story is about Life Day, a Christmas-like analogue in George Lucas' "Star Wars" universe. Life Day is like the equivalent of Christmas in Chewbacca's / Wookie's home planet. And what about that Star Trek: Voyager episode where Captain Janeway and her crew encounters the Q Continuum and their starship ended up as a Christmas tree ornament?

Maribeth said...

Did any of you see that December 22, 2007 BBC World News feature about a "new" evidence pertaining to the "home country" of Santa Claus? The broadcast states that Santa Claus is probably from Khyrghyzstan. If the researchers' data supports this, this could serve as a raison d' être for the progressive Metal band Trans Siberian Express' Christmas compositions. Speaking of Christmas music, please check out the Christmas Project CD. This CD is a compilation of "contemporized" Christmas tunes performed by various OPM (Original Pilipino Music) artists. And please note that 100% of the proceeds will go the Cancer Warrior Foundation inc. to help disadvantaged kids with cancer. The Christmas Project CD is notable not just because all of the proceeds will go to charity but because concepts like these are still few and far between here in the Philippines. Unlike in the US where they have the "A Very Special Christmas" compilations that benefits the Special Olympics inc. Or the "Just Say Noël - a Gift from Geffen Records!" Christmas compilation whose proceeds benefits Peter Gabriels "The Witness Program". Witness is an organization that strengthens the global Human Rights movement by providing local Human Rights groups with the tools of mass communications, such as hand-held video cameras and FAX machines.