Question of the Week: December 23rd, 2014

How do you feel about the cultural ubiquity of Christmas?

That is, if you live somewhere where Christmas is culturally ubiquitous.  If you live somewhere else, tell us where, so we can plan our winter vacations accordingly.

Christmas I don’t really mind.  I don’t like Christmas music though.  I was musing earlier that Easter and Passover don’t have nearly as much associated music as Christmas and Hanukkah.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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12 Responses to Question of the Week: December 23rd, 2014

  1. Silvermoon says:

    TBH, I like Christmas. I’m not quite at that age where I’m expected to buy something substantial for all my relatives and something small for everyone else- I’m a currently jobless student- so the money aspect doesn’t bother me yet (we’ll see about next year). But as an atheist raised in a sorta-Christian family I have positive associations with the holiday; the time of the year I can get that thing I really want, good cooking, and seeing family I rarely see.

    On one hand Christmas is highly religious for some of my relatives; but because it’s never been relevant for me, I just brush that off.
    On the other hand, it’s also everywhere in the commercial/retail world- but, to be honest, if the songs weren’t so pervasive in the shops, I would be able to brush the branding aside and see it only as an opportunity to find discounts etc.

    But this, I feel, might be a perspective allowed to those who identify as Christian or atheist or agnostic (although I don’t know!! So don’t quote me.); it’s easier to brush it off when it doesn’t directly clash with my beliefs (in this case, I just favour the commercial gain over the religious messages).

    So that’s my general feelings on the matter.

  2. Alice says:

    Christmas music gets on my nerves a little – and not just because they’ve been playing the same tired old Christmas songs from the 70s and 80s for my entire life, and I’m 30 next year. It also espouses a very narrow, commercial view of the holiday – all presents and food and consumption and social pressure. If you listen to the lyrics of most radio-friendly Christmas music, it boils down to “if you love me, buy me stuff.”

    I’d dearly love to escape for the Christmas period to a country where Christmas isn’t celebrated – somewhere like Morocco or Iran would be nice and warm and peaceful. But as it is, I just make the best of the period – we’ve never really celebrated it to any sort of extreme in my family, so I make the most of the time off work. I usually go for a peaceful country walk on Christmas Day, and the same on New Year’s Day when the rest of the country is sleeping off the alcohol poisoning. (I tend to go to bed before midnight at New Year, and wake to see the first sunrise of the year.)

    As it happens, I put up a blog about a very closely related subject just before seeing this post. Check it out if you like: http://alicesrainbow.com/2014/12/social-obligations-expectations-and-enforced-fun/

  3. Rae says:

    It’s tiring. I’m just trying to avoid the forced cheeriness related to the holidays. The weeks or days leading up to the actual day are the worse and it gets better for me after it’s over. Christmas music is esp annoying and I feel bad for retail employees because it’ll be the same series of songs for 10+ hours each time.

  4. On the contrary. Dec 25 is always a workday where I live, unless it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, so, as a Catholic, I regularly face difficulties. Christmas is not a cultural occurence here either. New Year, however, is.

  5. Sara K. says:

    Last year for Christmas I got … a tooth filling! Paid for by Taiwanese National Health Insurance. I think getting nationalized health insurance (such as ‘Medicare for All’) would be an excellent Christmas present for US residents, but I’m not holding my breath…

    Many Taiwanese retail businesses try to promote ‘Christmas’ to boost sales, but I’ve been told that it’s a new thing, that as recently as 2010 Taiwanese people (aside from the Christian minority) generally ignored Christmas. The ‘Christmas spirit’ I observed in Taiwan felt far more shallow and lacking in substance than the US version of Christmas commercialization. It’s nothing like Lunar New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival, which are both a huge deal in Taiwan.

    My family mostly ignores Christmas, so it’s about as special as, say, Labor Day. And I think the local businesses (aside from places which, say, sell Christmas trees) are generally being rather low-key about the Christmas thing this year.

  6. notunprepared says:

    I like Christmas, because I work in a school and Christmas always falls in summer here. So six weeks holiday booyah! My family being able to have a few days off and everyone being together and swimming and eating lots of food is lovely too.

    I really, really REALLY HATE Christmas music though. I worked in retail for 9 years (I’ve only just quit it actually), and every year it would be hour after hour of nonstop, shitty covers of Christmas carols. If I never hear a Christmas song again it’ll be too soon.

    • notunprepared says:

      Oh, and my store only has about an hour’s worth of songs on the playlist too. So if you’re doing a full 9 hour shift it’s like being in a hell where the music is happy but the people are all miserable and rushed.

  7. Everyone’s complaining about the music. I think the biggest problem is that there hasn’t really been a new popular Christmas song since Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 (With the possible exception of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. Also, I don’t count “Linus & Lucy”, because that’s not really a Christmas song). Sure, people are still doing Christmas music, and some end up being hit songs (Like Lennon’s “Happy Xmas” or “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses), but none really become ubiquitous. Has music died? Have copyright lawyers taken over and ruined it? I think people would hate the music less if it hadn’t been exactly the same stuff for the past 60 years.

    • Siggy says:

      There’s “believe” from the Polar Express film. That one’s okay since it at least has some minor tonality.

    • Sciatrix says:

      I listen to Cthulhu Carols, personally. All the same pretty melodies, but much funnier lyrics. 😀

      But then, I actually prefer the religious Christmas music to the more secular stuff, which tends to be kind of sexist and have much more annoying tunes. And those I think don’t get played nearly as often, I think as an attempt to be polite to non-Christians.

  8. Sciatrix says:

    I don’t mind Christmas itself. I like the opportunity to give presents to people I like and to spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking and to collect weirdo ornaments for the tree.

    I’m really not a huge fan of the pressure to go and hang out with family, though. This is the first year I’m working through Christmas, and my god the reactions from people I know casually have been really irritating. It can be a bit of a social minefield sometimes.

  9. I live in Taiwan, where Christmas is not widely celebrated, and is still a workday. I do like Christmas though, and would love to be in a place where it is celebrated. Here it is merely a commercial perk.

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