I must admit that I watched the Seinfeld special on NBC last night. As I did so, I was reminded of “Festivus,” a creation of Frank Costanza (George’s father). The family tradition began one year when Frank was shopping for a doll to give George, and lost the final doll in the store to another man who grabbed for it at the same time. He called it “A Festivus for the rest-ivus.” You can read about the Festivus traditions here. (I do miss Seinfeld.)
I bring Festivus up on this, the busiest shopping day of the year, because it reminds me of the commercial insanity that the Christmas season has become. It seems that stress, credit-card debt, and crass commercialism are what the holiday is all about. I cannot imagine what it is like to wake up and go to the mall at 6am! The mindset of someone who would do that is completely alien to me. Fortunately it is also alien to my wife! Seinfeld apparently understood the critique and tried to make something new, however silly.
Christmas itself has become so neutered in our culture that it has nothing really to do with Christ. The traditional Christian hymns of Christmas (carols) are rarely heard outside of the churches. Whether you’re hearing music on the radio of TV or out at the mall, it is likely that you will hear songs about Santa, Frosty, other forms of winter precipitation, and even a hippopotamus, but you will probably not hear one about Jesus. You will hear warm stories and messages about Christmas that may have a lot to do with family, the needy, the wishes of children, and the like, but you won’t hear much about the virgin birth.
What is the point of the holiday?
Presumably it is a celebration of winter, or family, or warm feelings and tradition. It is a cotton-candy holiday – one that tastes really sweet but has no real substance, and may simply leave a stomach-ache in its wake. I’m reminded that the early Church chose to celebrate Christ’s nativity on December 25 in large part to co-op a pagan holiday that revolved around the winter solstice. I guess we’ve come full circle, as a pagan (or at least non-Christian) holiday is celebrated during this time, to co-op a Christian holiday that the culture remembers celebrating (even if it doesn’t remember why).
So they ought to call it something else because it doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas. Maybe “Wintermas.” Or Festivus.