it was just plain old christmas carols

Taking a break from studying for finals to talk about something else that I hate: Christmas Time.

So, I wanna preface this by saying that I personally do celebrate christmas since my dad’s side of the family is christian and my dad wants to keep a few of his childhood traditions alive, which is reasonable. But I dont get super into it, we dont have extended family, we dont decorate our house aside from a small tree, I obviously dont go to church, and I do the stereotypical american jewish christmas of chinese food and movies. But even I get the piss taken out of me when I talk about *gasp* eating chinese takeout on christmas rather than, idk ham or some shit.

So, there are some very real things to be upset about as a minority religion in America during christmas time. Its fucking alienating as hell.  For a growing part of the year (id say about 2 months rn) christian goyim just seem to forget that not everyone celebrates their holidays.  “You can’t just not celebrate christmas! Its not a christian holiday its an american holiday!” Yeah buddy Im not gonna get super fuckin excited about the birth of a religious figure of christianity.  I dont care that its about “family.” I have OTHER holidays to be close with my family. You know, JEWISH HOLIDAYS.  Then when I dont get into it and just politely refuse to take part in my school’s christmas time bullshit, not even saying it shouldn’t happen, just saying I dont want to take part, suddenly Im a heartless monster. 

Oh yeah and is it just me or is Scrooge from A Christmas Carol antisemitic as hell? Oh yeah money grubbing old man usually depicted with a big hooked nose hates christmas and children because the only reason anyone would not enjoy christian holidays is if theyre a heartless greedy jew- I mean monster.

then theres the white christians whining every fucking year about the war on christmas and how christians are just sooooooooo persecuted in America and someone said happy holidays to them at work while holding a plain red starbucks cup and it made them weep all over their cross necklaces.  This year its especially painful because we just elected a man president who could actually do tangible real harm to jews and especially muslims so, white christians, your fucking crocodile tears about how the j00z just hate family values so much arent fucking working on me. Y'all act like we have a persecution complex then turn around and pull this shit. Its not cute.

Then ofc the goyische nonsense rumor that hanukah is somehow the most important jewish holiday started because “it happens in the winter it must be like out winter holiday!”

And, of course, Im going here, the rise in antisemitic hate crimes that happens consistently every christmas. Its worse on easter but it really is bad on christmas too.

Anyway, hating christmas does not fucking make you a bad person. 

this felt really good to rant about ngl Ive been thinking all this for weeks

This Black Ribbon

 

A.J. Bayes’ 1889 illustration for Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Match Girl”.

My father recently dug out a box of old home videos—recordings I remember being made but which I had never seen. They spanned from 1988 to about 1995. They are all of our family’s video records, these five or six tapes, and in them it is always Christmas.

Christmas envelops us (at least, those of us in the U.S.) like a blanket. The songs are in your supermarket, the lights in your neighborhood, the specials on your TV, the tree in your office lobby. There is no escaping its reach if you spend any portion of your time interacting with the outside world, regardless of the religion you were (or were not) raised in, of what faith you do (or do not) practice now. If there ever was a war on Christmas, let it be noted that Christmas won.

In the videos, my brothers and I look like we’re attached to some kind of electrical current, our eyes wide and fists clenched, legs bouncing up and down. We are not allowed to see the tree, or our presents, until the filming ritual is finished. We sit on the steps of our DC home with our mother (our father operates the camera) and speak, year after year, almost in song: “Merry Christmas 1990,” “1991,” “1992”—a childhood measured in holiday.

According to my local Rite-Aid, Christmas starts sometime in late September and ends in early January. It is neither an event nor a day but in fact a season, as legitimate in this Christianity-steeped country as autumn or winter, even as it overlaps both. And how do you grapple with a month? Two months? Or, by Rite-Aid’s figures, around four? No holiday is as pervasive or long lasting: one does not so much celebrate Christmas as live through it. The train will come regardless of what you or I will do.

The sheer number of Christmas symbols staggers the mind. From religious (an infant, a manger, a star) to pagan (a Yule log, a Christmas tree), horticultural (holly, mistletoe, poinsettia) to animal (turtle doves, reindeer), meteorological (snow) to geographical (the North Pole, Bethlehem), decorative (wreaths, lights, bells, stockings) to culinary (fruitcake, candy canes, gingerbread, goose), active (sleigh rides, ice skating, caroling) to passive (chestnuts roasting, children sleeping), not to mention all the music, poetry, plays, movies, ballets, TV specials dedicated to the subject, much less Santa Claus and his retinue of iconography—this motely, gargantuan, and still growing body of symbols speaks to the broad range of influences this winter celebration has drawn from. There is a Christmas for every taste—from medieval polyphony to Die Hard—and it is hard to take the measure of it.

Though the holiday is irrevocably, irreducibly a religious one (even the shortened Xmas seems to ominously nod towards the cross), its secular manifestations first began to emerge with the cult of Santa Claus in the early 19th century and Dickens’s near irreligious A Christmas Carol a few decades later. “Jingle Bells,” what’s considered the first secular Christmas song—though it was originally intended to be sung at Thanksgiving—was published in 1857. Today one could, if one wished, go full throttle Christmas without one mention of the Christ child: all Rudolphs and elves, sleigh bells and silver bells, Nutcrackers and Wonderful Lives, Frosties and Grinches.

The holiday’s emphasis on family and generosity also has young roots: born from Scrooge’s redemption and Clement Clarke Moore’s “Visit from Saint Nicholas” and even Queen Victoria’s adoption of the Germanic Christmas tree. Large, rowdy groups of singers going door to door demanding food and drink (not unlike SantaCon) had dominated earlier celebrations in England, so it’s little wonder that both England and Boston had separately banned the holiday during parts of the 1600s. Many New Englanders only began to celebrate the holiday after its fashionable Victorian makeover; the U.S. government didn’t make it federal holiday until 1870. Though Christ’s birthday was celebrated as early as the 4th century CE, and perhaps even before then, the practices and cultural objects we know as the Christmas tradition were, by and large, introduced within the past 200 years.

At once very old and very new, Christmas resists generalizations. What it always is, however, is a feast, one held during the Northern Hemisphere’s darkest hour. And perhaps because of the annual onslaught of night, the fundamental reality of darkness we all grapple with this time of year, Christmas, throughout its permutations, has carried with it a disturbing but persistent current of tragedy.

Death hovers above so many Christmas songs and stories. Though Wenceslas’s page is saved by his liege’s miraculously warm footprints in the 1853 carol, by the forth stanza of the song he is near death: “I can go no longer.” In “We Three Kings” (1863), the third magi describes his gift of myrrh—an embalming oil—to baby Jesus, who has a “life of gathering gloom,” born as he is for death: “sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying / sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” The 16th century “Coventry Carol” carries with it none of the joy or hope that characterizes so many acclamatory Christmas songs. In it, a mother sings a lullaby to her dead child, murdered by Herod during the Massacre of the Innocents: the song is all despair. 

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