Christmas is coming... Oy vey!


Is Christmas so confusing? The weird thing about Christmas is we all think we have a shared vision but in fact each of us has a very specific ideal that has very little in common with anyone else... apart from over indulgence and a fat man with a beard (or thin if you are Dutch - see what I mean?). Is it a real or fake tree? If it’s fake, you need to use it for twenty years before it is ‘greener’ than a real one. In Catalan they have a guy called the Caganer in the nativity scene. This is a guy having a poop! Yup apparently it denotes fertility and good luck. In Austria Santa is accompanied by a demon called Krampus who punishes the ‘naughty’ kids in ‘naughty or nice’ and in Holland the locals black up like Al Jolson as a character called Black Pete. First thing Christmas morning is it stockings or boots? (no, not those kind of stockings and boots... though they may indeed make a very Happy Christmas for someone). Is a cracker a paper present you pull, a good looking member of the opposite sex you pull or something you put cheese on? Is the Christmas meal dinner on Christmas Eve, lunch on Christmas Day or dinner... or all three? Do you overeat Roast Turkey, Roast Goose, Roast Beef or nut cutlets? In Japan the whole country eats Kentucky Fried Chicken. So popular is it, that you must order two months in advance. I sort of get it as turkey sushi would bring salmonella as it’s Christmas present. In Greenland it’s Kiviac which is fermented sea birds wrapped in seal blubber. Yum! Outside, is it snowballs or sunscreen, football or soccer, ski-ing on snow or water? Inside it is splodging in front of the TV to watch a Christmas Story, The Great Escape, Elf or The Queen’s Speech? In Sweden everyone watches Donald Duck!

...and another thing

Now you think you’re confused… how about non-Christian cultures overrun by Christmas Tourists?

Ten years ago, Crimbo in Dubai was as indecipherable to the locals as Diwali is to a Patagonian Cowboy, or the Haj is to an Inuit.

Now… they get it… sort of. Commerce of course woke up to the fact that at the end of December a whole bunch of people armed with packages and noisy kids invaded this tiny desert kingdom.

Shops were first out of the starting gate. They offered foreign Christmas-breakers an alternative to the hassle of airport security with having to unwrap presents before you can board a plane with the solution of buying them there cheaper. Next, if Oxford Street stores could buy their Christmas tat from Vietnam so could a Dubai one. Hey presto the place is now festooned in fairy lights and Reindeers pulling sleighs… in a country where snow is rarer than alcohol in a mosque.

Then restaurants saw a huge drop in demands for pizza kebabs or burgers at year end but a universal desire to eat some bird the size of a buzzard and about as tasty. Enter container loads of frozen Turkeys and guess where the previous year’s unsold Christmas puddings ended up… as well as a mountain of Imodium?

Quite what the locals make of all this (apart from money) is beyond me. I sometimes wonder if they regard this vulgar display with the same withered view I had living in London during and after Ramadan when every two-bit son of a rich Gulf State comes to splutter his Ferrari round Harrods and up Park Lane. Irritating but I at least was comforted by the certain knowledge they were being fleeced by every restaurant and Madam in town.

...and another thing

Still cross religious understanding is probably best demonstrated by the songs White Christmas, Winter Wonderland and Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… all written by Jewish men!

So, at this time of the year, may your God go with you…. whoever he or she may be. Please enjoy the celebrations.

I suspect, however if I eat a fermented seabird burger I suppose I might become the pooper at the nativity scene!

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