I spent an hour or so this evening putting up the Christmas tree. It’s the same fibre optic tree I’ve used for the past four or five years with the addition of a set of lights, a few strands of coloured tinsel and some mirror baubles I bought on a whim from Tesco this afternoon. It looks rather nice, as it usually does, sitting on top of one of the speakers where it’s visible from the street and largely inaccessible to the cat who would pull the whole thing apart if only he could fit himself on top of the speaker along with the tree.
Quite why I have a Christmas tree I really don’t know. Although I was brought up as a Christian1 I haven’t considered myself to be one for 40 years or more. But then, despite the name, Christmas really has very little to do with Christianity does it? The Christians, when they spread this far north, simply purloined the festivals which most of the inhabitants already celebrated at this time of year. The peoples of northern climes have been holding festivals involving lights around the shortest day of the year for thousands of years. I imagine we do it because it’s around this time when we begin to get thoroughly cheesed off with the short days and need a little light in our lives to stop us falling into the bottomless pit of despondency. I wonder if the original inhabitants of the more southerly parts of South America used to have similar festivals in June?
1 Sort of — Sunday School once a week and church once a month until I was 13 or so. After that it became intermittent — I liked carol services, Easter services and harvest festivals but that was for the buzz rather than the religion.
Posted 18 December 2005, 00:14 GMT