Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Christmas is only one option on the festive smorgasboard, other religions are available

Right now, everyone has this pre-Christmas anxiety and sense that 'everything has to be perfect' la la la.

Well, not *everyone* cos anyone reading this clearly has time on their hands. Or at least a spare 5 minutes to wait before the mince pies are ready or the Morecombe & Wise Christmas Special repeat is on ITV3.

But really, some people do get fritzed out about Xmas: they don't have those suicide hotlines on the telly at Christmas for nothing.


I've said it before and I'll say it again.

(Sometimes*) Christmas = suffering.

It's also lots of happiness and hopefully a nice new Raleigh bike, if Santa's feeling generous, but we'll just have to wait until Christmas morning, won't we?

But my point about drunken tramps from Lapland or Scotland still holds. None of the tramps hangin round the city centre are Asian. There are no Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Hare Krishna tramps sleeping rough in city centre Manchester tonight.

As far as I know. So unscientifically speaking (talking bollocks, you might want to call it) Christmas might be to blame.

Obviously, I have no proof, but I bet the other winterish religious events are a bit less stressful and involve less sprouts. Although obviously, being an agnostic - I'm not really sure about anything.

How about Pagans?

The Winter Solstice. Hurrah! The nights are getting incrementally shorter. Already and it's only December! Let's have a big fire, stare up at the sky, wander round in a big robe and sacrifice a goat. Or a butternut squash if you're a vegetarian. Hurrah. Fairly simple all that. Could involve driving to Stonehenge and staying up late, so it's not all fun and games. No, hang on, it pretty much is all fun and games.

There is the worship bit, but obviously, I'm not really qualified for commenting on that. Apart from that it's bonfires, roasted goats, dancing in robes, Stonehenge: sorted.

Verdict: more fun than Christmas; less sprouts and gravy.

How about Muslims?

Their big religious event of the winter period is Ramadan. And that is really easy to cater for - let's do a shopping list for the family during Ramadan:

breakfast....... Ummmm, nothing

lunch .... Yeah, i was thinking, maybe, nothing?

High-tea ..... Prayer. Nowt to eat, cheers.

dinner time........ Eh? We're fasting, hello? And it's not sundown yet, so, no thanks.

eveningtide.......... Listen we're all so hungry and fainting we could eat a horse.

Shopping list: no sprouts. Lots of dates for energy after sundown. And ummm anything, just anything, we're just so hungry we'll eat anything. Just no sprouts, thanks.

Compare that with the Christian festival of Lent. What do Christians do during the 40 days of Lent? Give up chocolate? How about give up eating and drinking for 16 hours a day - now that's devotion my friends.

So on balance, I'd say, probably not the easy option. Though you do get Eid at the end of it which is a reet big knees up - with obviously lots of eating.

Verdict: much harder than Lent.


How about Hindus?


Their big event is Divali, the festival of lights. Again, based on my extreme ignorance, I'd say you're probably gonna have some Indian food. Some nice sweets. A bit of serious prayer, a bit of dancing, then watch a Bollywood film. Or do some dancing. And explode some enormous fireworks and drive around the streets in your cars beeping your horn.

Verdict: the driving around the streets is more fun than it is at Christmas, cos you're not actually stuck in traffic on your way to your Auntie Eileen's. You're deliberately stuck in a traffic jam full of revellers all beeping their horns, waving flags & playing bhangra music. Huzzah!


How about Buddhists?


For Buddhists, as far as I can work out, without actually doing any research: Life is a celebration. Every day is a gift. Just be happy, y'know. And hope that you're not reincarnated as a stick insect.

But what's on the menu for a Buddhist religious feast? Buddhists are probably easily satisfied cos they have to make the best of things. Buddhist's seem to go with my mum's old saying, "Eat what you're given and be thankful for what you get."

So you can give Buddhist's anything and they'll be happy. Probably. But they're all veggies, so no Turkey. Just sprouts, carrots, spuds & vegetarian gravy. Buddhists are alarmingly charming and positive people in my pathetically limited experience. They will not turn their noses up at sprouts.

Verdict: as I don't actually know if Buddhists have a ceremony in the winter, I can't really comment. But Christmas is way more famous. And no Buddhist is ever going to worry about this sort of competition thing, they're far too laid back. Probably.

How about Jews?

Happy Hanukkah! It's today I think. Or it starts today. Hanukkah is pretty symbollic in the Jewish religion. But without looking it up (I will in a bit, I promise) I can't actually say what it's symbollic for. You light a lot of candles on a nice candlelabra. I think it's to celebrate how the Jews made it through the desert against the odds. Those pesky Pharoahs chasing them. Charlton Heston leading them towards the Promised Land. So I guess it's another one of those *be thankful for what happened to our people in the past, be thankful for what you've got* celebrations.

Verdict: the actual celebration bit is pretty similar to Christmas actually, just without the tree. Or Jesus. But with more religion.

In Conclusion: the only difference seems to be some festivals encourage you to remember and be thankful by giving you stuff & others by not letting you have stuff. I think I should probably remember the words of my Mum when I whined about how crap my 2nd hand one-legged Action Man was, or how my *new* bike only had one wheel - or whatever it was I was complaining about that particular year, "You need to count your blessings, young man. You don't know how lucky you are."

Aye. True. God,
this is turning into the blog equivalent of one of those modern American Christmas films where the grouchy bloke realises the true meaning of Christmas at the end. Damn. Humbug...

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