Monday, 25 December 2017

Love and Peace (5 Stars)

As my close friends know, I don't celebrate Christmas. When I was a child my parents made a big deal out of Christmas, and I admit that I loved receiving presents. When I left home at the age of 22 I stopped celebrating Christmas. I was lucky enough to marry a woman who thought the same as me, so we could ignore Christmas together.

It's not just the religious aspects of Christmas that I'm ignoring. It's also the cultural and commercial aspects. Christmas is considered to be a Christian festival, even though it's not mentioned in the Bible. Its roots are in pagan festivals celebrating the winter solstice.

Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth. In the Bible the date of his birth isn't stated, and it's highly unlikely that he was born in winter. In South Germany there's the ridiculous idea among Catholics that the "Christkind" (Christ as a child) brings presents to children. Don't the people who believe this know that Christ didn't stay a child, he grew up to be a man?

In most parts of the Christian world presents are delivered to children by a man in a red cloak called either Santa Claus or Father Christmas. There are so many regional variations in the legends that he's barely the same character from one country to another. In the area where I live Santa is accompanied by a man called Ruprecht, who dresses in a brown coat. Ruprecht asks children if they've been good or bad. If they've been good Santa gives them sweets. If they've been bad Ruprecht beats them with a stick.

Many of my friends openly admit that they don't believe in Jesus, but they celebrate Christmas anyway. They use various excuses. Some say that they're celebrating Christmas as a pagan festival. Others say that they're celebrating Christmas as a time of goodwill. Others say that they're celebrating Christmas just for their children. I don't criticise people who have any of these reasons for celebrating Christmas, but I personally can't accept any of these reasons for myself.

What puts me off about Christmas most is the commercial aspect. People are expected to buy more things, whether it's gifts or food. I find that appalling. If I want to buy someone a gift I can do it any time of year. I've never bought any of my children a Christmas present, not even once. They soon realised that they couldn't expect anything from me or their mother. They received (and still receive) regular presents for their birthdays, as well as sporadic presents during the rest of the year.

That doesn't mean that I'm blind to the existence of Christmas. There are films about Christmas. "Love and Peace" is one of them. However much I dislike Christmas itself, this is a wonderful film.

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