Friday, September 21, 2018

The war on Wintermas

“Wintermas” is a peculiar pamphlet written by a member of that peculiar breed of men known as Canadian-Americans. Yes, he is a Canadian residing in California. The author is non-religious, probably an atheist. His pet project is to create a secular alternative to Christmas. Not being a neo-pagan, he doesn't believe Yule is a suitable alternative to Christmas. Nor does he like the Unitarian-Universalists. Their Christmas celebrations are apparently to somber and boring! Hence the need for a more radically secular celebration.

But how radically different is it really?

Wintermas seems to be a secularized version of two ancient Roman traditions: Saturnalia and the cult of Sol Invictus. The author argues that these traditions were somehow really secular, but that's unconvincing. The ancient didn't celebrate “the rebirth of the sun” for secular reasons – to them, Sol was a divinity! The author also wants to rewrite Christian Christmas carols with secular lyrics, keep the star in the top of the holiday tree (ahem, that's the Star of Bethlehem, you know), and even keep Santa Claus as part of his new holiday, strongly suggesting that his Wintermas is really a secularized version of both ancient paganism and Christianity…

While there is nothing “wrong” with this, per se, I think it means that Wintermas will never really catch on, simply being a more pale-pink version of “the real thing” (and another front in the “liberal war against Christmas”). It's interesting to speculate why atheists would want to have a pale-pink version of Xmas in the first place. The author clearly wants a celebration that is imbued with “meaning”. Why does such a celebration end up simply secularizing old religious traditions? Perhaps this tells us something about human need for meaning…and religion.

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