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Home > Culture and Society

Santaphobia

11 December 2004

If it weren't for the Sun and Michael Howard, 2004 would most probably go down in history as the last year we were ever allowed to celebrate Christmas in the traditional British style - i.e. with plastic trees, tinsel and tacky cards; fairy-light-house-fires and million-dollar-movie tie-ins in Regent Street; boozy office parties and gonad-nosed alcoholics in big itchy beards; and most importantly with Jesus Christ and his message of Peace at the heart of the whole shebang. According to the Sun, all of this is soon to be a thing of the past. That is, if *they* are allowed to get their way. But who exactly are they?

Well, as you might have guessed, they are those loony leftie liberals. Described variously in yesterday's Sun as 'the PC brigade', 'barmy bureaucrats' and 'ignorant jobsworths', they are apparently surfing a tide of 'politically correct meddling' which genuinely threatens to destroy Christmas. The examples given range from Job Centres not putting up decorations in their public offices to Tessa Jowell sending out Christmas cards with mosques on them; from Camden Council rebranding their Christmas lights as 'Festive Lights' to High Wycombe library banning adverts for a carol service because they didn't want to offend people of other religions.

Which is where Michael Howard comes in. He was more than happy to jump on the Sun's bandwagon yesterday and give the anus-faced bird to the PC Brigade. 'It doesn't matter what colour your skin is or what religion you are,' he declared. 'We're all British.' Which is all very well of course, except for the fact that it's completely untrue and Michael Howard is a total fucking dick. 'And,' he continued, 'Christmas is a British tradition.' Right. Whatever you say, Michael. What's that? Christ was a chippy from Skegby? Course he was, duck.

All of which is not to say the Sun don't have a point about it being it ludicrous for a library not to advertise a carol service for fear of offending local Sikhs. It is ludicrous. And any library boss who makes a decision of that ilk is a misguided fool. Indeed, the Sun brought in their recent signing, Muslim single mum, Anila Baig to explain that although Muslims may not be big on the Lord God, they do dig on Jesus Christ in a big way and they think Father Christmas is really, really brilliant.

It is also important to remember however, that any shopping centre which refuses to have a Santa's Grotto because it says it fears offending non-Christians is lying. The only reason such a decision would be taken in the first place is because the shopping centre in question no longer believed that Santa's Grotto was commercially viable. The Bullring in Birmingham for example. The Bullring isn't bothered about offending, so much as losing money. Why, if they thought it would be popular with the punters and would make them money, they would even have a Satan's Grotto.

Step forward the Edinburgh Dungeon, who are this week facing pressure from Christians not to open their Satan's Grotto on December 15th. The grotto will feature 'elves impaled on spikes and robins roasting on an open fire while Santa gently boils in a witch's cauldron.' Children will queue to see an actor dressed as Satan who will then hand out nasty novelty gifts to those who have been bad. Director of the Christian Institute, Colin Hart has called for the grotto to be banned. 'This is bizarre and blasphemous,' he said. 'Glorifying and promoting the occult as a Christmas attraction is not only very tasteless but sad and very dangerous.' Oh, come on, Colin. It's a bit of fun innit?

Or is it? Could it not rather be another vicious example of Christianophobia, which this week Vatican Foreign Minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo is attempting to have recognised by the UN as 'a serious evil', on an equal footing with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia? Well, we don't know, and to be perfectly frank, we don't much care.

What all this seasonal bleating points out very clearly is that any break from the traditional is always going to be criticised by some old reactionaries somewhere; whether it's the Sun, the Vatican or Michael fucking Howard. But the fact remains that Christmas, like everything else, changes over time. Always has, always will. It used to be about religion. Now it's about shopping. Maybe in the future it'll be about killing and eating homeless people. Who knows? All we really know for sure is that the Sun are a bunch of sensationalising arse-farmers and that we're genuinely thankful that it isn't Christmas every day.

Hail Santa.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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