Happy Christmas (No – I’m not late)

Nativity Scene
© Jeff Weese

When out and about shopping this week, I’ve noticed that supermarkets have stopped playing Christmas music – I would say carols, but it’s mainly the pop-style Christmas music that they have been blaring out of their PA systems for the past two months.

Why shouldn’t they? After all, Christmas is over, right?

Well, no. Christmas does not begin on 1 December and end on 25 December. It starts on 25 December and ends on 5 January; ahead of Epiphany on 6 January.

Over this past week, a number of shop assistants and check-out staff have asked me if I have had a nice Christmas. “It is going well so far!”, I say, to their clear bemusement.

I’m not a Christmas grinch – if people want to put their Christmas decorations up on 1 December, 1 November or 1 April, it matters not to me. Each to their own. But by the same token, if some of those people get bored of Christmas before Christmas Eve, please bear in mind that some of us are still enjoying it; having looked forward to the festivities¬†throughout Advent.

I’ve long argued that we have lost our shared sense of seasons – and I think that it would be better if we returned to these as they provide a shared sense of identity and belonging.

As we in the West end our Christmas celebrations on 5 January; our Christian brothers and sisters in the Orthodox churches will be looking forward to their Christmas¬†festivities. It is one of the more visible elements of the split between western and eastern Christianity. Another is over the dating of Easter. There are moves among church leaders across the world to resolve the latter; but I can’t help thinking that as the churches move closer to celebrating major festivals at the same time; a new split is looming – mainly between those in and those outside the church – over when those festivals should be.

So if your Christmas is over; so be it. I hope you had a good one and enjoyable one. I’m just about in the middle of mine – and I’m enjoying it very much.