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.