Saturday, 15 December 2012

Merry Winterval, Everyone! (Not 'Christmas' Though - Bah Humbug!)

Date Started: 21/10/12
Date Completed: 2/12/12
Date First Published:15/12/12

With a title like that, i suppose you think you can see what’s coming, don’t you  - an angry antitheist rant about Christmas, written by a snarky, snide non-believer; stealing presents from children, mistletoe from torch-carrying teens, mulled wine from middle-aged women, and...

punching grannies in the face.

...OK, i ran out of ideas.

But no! This shall not be so.

I shall not spoil your Christmas,
I shall not spoil your Winterval,
This time of year’s an isthmus,
A pecuniary interval,
Connecting frozen wintry winds,
To thawing springtime sunshine,
So revel in those awful jokes,
And down your glass of mulled wine.

Eek – that almost scanned. [1]

But at least it’s reminded me to get my poetic licence renewed :-P

It does ‘get my goat’ though – the way Christianity stamps all over everyone’s winter nosh-up. At least, where i live, it's Christianity that does.

Link for better image 

That is what it is, after all – a time of year when we get together with our friends and relatives (if we’re fortunate, those categories might overlap!) for a nosh-up.

'Christmas’ is a time when we cajole each other to ‘put aside our differences’, and be merry, and friendly, and stuff our faces with food until we can’t get out of our chairs.

With stockings burning over the fireplace, sweet chestnuts earnestly prepared for utter neglect, incense killing off the asthmatics, and the turkey waiting to kill off the diabetics.

And then we go back to hating each other, with renewed vigour, on Boxing Day.

Some of us even suspend our guilt about poverty and starvation in the poorer parts of the world, so that we can divest in this annoyingly commercial and starkly-opposing-to-starvation-ary ritual.

What role does Christianity, or any Religion, for that matter, really play, in any of this?

Winter fests are not peculiar to any one Religion – all those that do seem to have bastardized the secular nosh-up, in order to do some ‘festive’ indoctrination.

The Xmas ethic: be merry, be cheerful, be friendly, be good to all, abandon prejudice... and do some weird culty shit involving cannibalised babies.

(That’s what communion/mass is, btw – where Christians get together, to eat and drink their saviour’s flesh and blood – the sweet baby Jesus, as he incarnates at Christmas time).

Supposedly, this weird, culty, baby-eating horrorshow is the whole point of Christmas! Even in regions distant from the Middle-East, where it actually originated. Like Nuneaton. Or Cairns, in tropical North-East Australia!

It’s Christmas...

Christ’s Mass...

Stands to reason, doesn’t it!

All those trees with tinsel on them; all those cards; all the presents, the food, the wine; all of that. It’s all peripheral to the ingestion of the cadaver, symbolic or otherwise [2], of a 2000-year-old half-dead half-deity.


And no word ever changed meaning over time. Not the nice ones, anyway.
(There is a point to the hyperlinks, by the way) [nudge nudge]

Ugh - let’s be honest with ourselves - it’s all nonsense.

While some deem it appropriate to add weird Religious rituals to the events of this time of year – or any time of year, for that matter! – it is not intrinsic to the occasion that any be conducted, at all, whatsoever.

The whole utility of a winter festival – a winterval, if you will – is that it gives people something to look forward to, as the light dims, the trees die back, and everyone slowly gets depressed (whether clinically or not). Then, after the festival, everyone knows the light’s coming back, and Spring is on its way. Oh, jubilation!

Link for better image 

If you locate your festival over the winter solstice, then you have something to look forward to until it comes; something to enjoy when it’s there; and something else to look forward to, when it’s gone.


This makes it really silly for people in the Southern Hemisphere to celebrate Christmas/Saturnalia/Winterval, on the same date that people in the Northern Hemisphere do.

For people in the Southisphere, the weather brightens until the fest, and then everything gets worse again for 6 months – it bunches all the optimism up into Spring and early Summer. Now what’s the point in that?!

A winter Winterval would work well for them – a summer Christmas does not.

Let’s not get carried away, here, though. We mustn’t forget the true spirit of Christmas/Saturnalia/Winterval. Which is....

Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money

I draw reference to a man who is surely one of the great, secular prophets of our time: Tom Lehrer

A Christmas Carol (live)

“God rest ye, merry merchants, May ye make the yuletide pay”

This sentiment is echoed by a very similar [3] musical act - Bad News - in the 1980s
Cashing In On Christmas

“Cashing in on Christmas, Hear those cash tills ring, Jingle bells make money, Everybody sing”

While we engage in a pre-festive frenzy, a kind of social cleansing comes into play – those who are too poor, or too weak, to avoid and/or survive the crowds, get trampled underfoot, and so we are freed from their burdensome presence... like a hedgehog under the wheels of a juggernaut.

OK, bad example... or maybe not.

Like ‘they’ say: ‘tis the season to get trampled

But what are we to call this Christmas/Saturnalia/Winterval/Yuletide affair? (We seem to be accruing names ‘like billy-o’ here.)

But, what the hell – as long as we don’t use “Christmas”, we’ll piss off the likes of the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, and that’s got to count for something!

The one they seem to dislike most is ‘Winterval’, which is the one that makes most sense:

- Christmas starts on the 25th of December [4], whereas the partying that we actually do clearly starts before this date and ends on the 25th. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, for most people.

- Saturnalia is a Roman festival, and you probably won’t want to do the Roman stuff, any more than the Christian stuff. (I’m hedging my bets, there, i think <s>)

- Yuletide’s a pagan festival, and you might not want to do that, either. But at least it’s geared around a one-day thing. And it comes from Germany. And who doesn’t like the Germans?

- The term ‘Winterval’ is thereby most appropriate for describing the winter festival – or winterval, if you like. Have i said that clause before?? :-P

There must be better names, however. Let’s have a go at thinking some up...

The primary gifting period

The annual givathon

Turkeygeddon (and yes – we do only love them for their huge breasts)

Sprout apocalypse

Stocking stuffing season


Mulled wine fest

The egg nogalypse

The period of plum pudding procurement

The mirthful period of pine tree genocide (poor things)

Not-quite-the-winter-solstice-anymore day [5]

(Send your votes, on the back of a postcard, to PO Box h0-h0-h0, St. Saint-Street St., Lapland)

Oh, wait, hang on –- i’m getting carried away!

If we change the name of ‘Christmas’, then we’ll have to change the lyrics to all those songs:

White Winterval – Bing Crosby

Rockin’ Round The Winterval Tree – Brenda Lee

All I Want For Winterval Is You – Mariah Carey

Blue Winterval – Elvis Presley

I Wish It Could Be Winterval Every Day – Wizzard

Lonely This Winterval – Mud

Have Yourself A Merry Little Winterval – Frank Sinatra

Happy Winterval (War Is Over) – John Lennon

Do They Know It’s Winterval? – Band Aid

Wonderful Wintervaltime – Paul McCartney (a tongue-twister!)

Winterval Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) – The Darkness

Then again, maybe we don’t – it was never sensical when it was called 'Christmas'; so why need it be, as Winterval?
“Nothing is more artistic, to the people of Christmasland, than a painting of a reindeer, flying over a static robin. They send these pictures to each other, on little pieces of card. They look at them, and think; “Ah, yes – a typical scene”.” 

And here is an example of that very scene 

So, what have we learned, with this mini-expedition, my little elves?

- Atheists don’t want to spoil the fun

- Christmas might be Christian, but the thing people actually do (and call “Christmas”) is not

- People in the Southisphere would be wiser to have a Winterval in their own winter

- Your Winterval doesn’t have to be capitalist, but prepare to get trampled if it is

- ‘Winterval’ describes the thing that people actually do, better than ‘Christmas’ does

- All those songs and things do not have to be post-edited, to fit

- All those things we do don’t make sense, but what the hell, pass us the mulled wine... 


Tapejara, 2012


[1] Inspired by Dr. Seuss

[2] Catholic Christian dogma says that the wafer and wine transubstantiate into the actual flesh of that same 2000-year-old half-dead half-deity (he must be running out, by now). Protestant Christian dogma, however, rejects this magical nonsense, and instead embraces the hypocritical nonsense of literally ingesting something that is only the metaphorical body and blood of the little JC! Which one’s barmier? I’m still undecided.

[3] They’re similar in that both acts employed words and music :-P

[4] Christmas Day is the “first day of Christmas”, as mentioned in the song, which clashes with the way ‘Christmas’ is celebrated, around the world. Christmas Day is conventionally treated as the climax of Christmas, and hence the last – not the first.

[5] The winter solstice (in the Northisphere) used to date to the 25th of December, but due to variances in the Earth’s axial tilt, it currently dates to the 21st of December. This is why various Wintervals locate over the 25th, and not the 21st, which would make most photo-calendrical sense in the context of what i said earlier.

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