Christmas does indeed appear to be a period of devotion to two powerful deities. The religious aspect of Christmas has been essentially unchanged for many centuries, at least according to my limited knowledge of Christian history. Those who believe in the events represented in the Bible cherish that belief and base the season’s activities around their faith.
The commercial aspect of Christmas is a flourishing industry based on goodwill and present-giving, eating and drinking well – festivity, in a word. What sensible retailer or marketer is going to ignore a period when people are more likely to be searching for things to buy, when people are out and about trying to find something different from the present they bought Dad last year?
The two aspects are not exclusive. Those who believe in the spiritual importance of the season are perfectly entitled to go out and buy gifts for their loved ones. Those who do not believe are perfectly entitled to take advantage of a “season of goodwill”.
The heresy Andy Fulton (MW November 16) disapproves of is Edward Moss’s (MW November 9) frustration with the commercial hype, and his seemingly pointless use of the season’s religious icons and symbols.
So the commercial giant of Christmas can’t find a winning toy, a Pokémon for Y2K? So what.
Ridiculing the commercial god of Christmas is not heretical, and questioning the use of the religious symbols might merely signify a greater rift between the deities.
Christmas has always been, and always will be, whatever the individual wants to make of it, whether they be priest, or marketer – or both.
Long live the season of goodwill, from whatever aspect.