In the deep Midwinter

Tinsel noose

As we dismantle Christianity and our culture erects more comfortable secular myths to fill the inevitable void, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is built on the ruins of a series of pagan festivals. Its main foundation stone is the Yule-tide Winter Solstice when the nights are at their longest, coldest and darkest, and hope flickers at is lowest. Imagine Christmas Eve for our pre-historic forebears, without any sense of certainty that the seasons will change and life will be restored. No Peter Andre 2010 calendar to reassure them that next year will come and May will see Peter, shirt-off, soaping up a Ferrari. No new series of 24 to cheer their frozen souls. No cheap flights in the sun for Ug and his missis. The trees are dying, the sun gives no warmth, nothing will grow in the hard, barren ground, the food supplies stored away are dwindling, people are sick and everything is utterly miserable. The warm weather might return, it might not. There may be hope for the future, there may not. They didn’t even have a 24 hour Tescos and central heating to fall back on. The stirrings deep within my Celtic DNA tell me that the Christmas of my pagan ancestors was a much darker occasion than the mawkish neverneverland of false sentimentality gifted to us by two of histories greatest hypocrites – the Victorians and Hollywood. It was an event more grounded in the reality of human existence. Eat, drink, be merry – for tomorrow we die. Or tonight in our sleep, in the middle of appalling nightmares that rise above us like a frozen cliff face, our muscles cramped rigid with cold. I envisage something fatalistic in their celebrations. Something where the human spirit dragged itself to its feet shivering and half-delirious with hunger and hypothermia, downed as much fermented mead as they could lay their hands on, shagged each other senseless and threw themselves into the last roaring embers of the fire. A bit like bungee jumping from the top of Big Ben using a length of washing line. Tied ‘round your neck. Singing Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. While copping off.


So as climate change apparently sees the world wobbling on the verge of a new Ice Age, Barnsley Council decide its not worth the effort to grit the roads, petrol prices soar again, and I tie the tinsel noose from my banister in readiness for the big festive orgasm that my genetic code has handed down to me, I wish you all a Merry Bloody Christmas.



  1. Book-of-Life · December 22, 2009

    That’s one way of looking at it. 🙂


  2. GSmudger · December 23, 2009

    Because our basic coding hasn’t changed as quickly as the world around us, we’ve become an over-fed, under-evolved parody of our forebears.

    We’re still programmed to eat everything in sight in times of plenty so that our we might survive times of want. Yet most supermarkets can hardly bring themselves to close for one day a year, and even this inspires their lard-brained punters to buy enough spuds, beans and long-life milk to see them through a nuclear winter. Times of want for chubby westerners seem very far away indeed but our inner cave-dweller still cherishes his urgent appetites.

    As for the idea of paying a gym to put you through artificial toil just to work off those nutritional riches, even our relatively recent ancestors would laugh so hard they’d forget about their gout and syphilis for a second.

    We just aren’t programmed for sedentary lives of endlessly gratified appetites. Nor can we see much beyond the security of our cave and tribe.

    The internet, a wonder of instant knowledge without boundaries, should turn us all into enlightened citizens of the world. But whether you’re a mild-mannered accountant dreaming of jihadist atrocity or a teenage oik trying to bully someone with a different hairstyle into suicide, the chances are you just use it as an extension of your very parochial and even atavistic preoccupations.

    As the Copenhagen fiasco amply showed, if most of our leaders speak for us, they seem to be saying screw the future, screw all your tribes, my tribe’s alright for now and we’ve got a cave full of mammoth popsicles so screw you all.

    And so our planet’s fate may rest in the hairy hands of a few over-eating monkeys in suits. Merry Christmas everyone.


    • The_Walrus · December 26, 2009

      I really hope you are wrong… but there are very few of us sensible ones around.


  3. technomist · December 31, 2009

    Happy New Year?


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