Thursday, 17 November 2011

Advent Calendars and the Downfall of the West

No Cadbury's, no!
Advent in Welsh is known as "Winter Lent" the name goes back to when these islands were Catholic (hurrah!) before the Reformation (boo), and people would fast in preparation for the Feast of Christmas.

In those days the good people of Wales (OK, and England too) would prepare themselves for Christmas, and following Christmas Day would celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas until Epiphany - the day the Wise Men visited the Infant Christ, the first gentiles to see and worship the Son of God.

Spot the difference?

Today Christmas at its consumerist best seems to start mid November, rattles on for weeks and weeks, then by the time Christmas Day arrives, and folks eat even more chocolate than they have in the whole run-up to Christmas, a lot of people are all Christmas'd out, can't wait for Christmas to be over with, get into the shops for the sales on Boxing Day...

Where have the Twelve Days of Christmas gone? Where has the Winter Lent of Advent gone? Like all our Feast Days that used to be dotted across the calendar - they have been robbed from us, by a robber band of merchant Protestants (or morecorrectly the Mammonistas!) who saw our old traditions as a barrier to working the poor 364 days a year.

Even in my own lifetime I have seen the demise of the traditional (semi-)religious Advent calendar with its little pictures, culminating on the 24th with a double-doored picture of the Nativity, so the excitement and the reminder of what Christmas was all about was brought home to the wee bairns on Christmas Eve.

Advent calendars originated in Germany
Now, as I potter around and rarely walk about shops (having an aversion to spending money, I am my father's son) all I tend to see are chocolate-filled calendars, most with very little to do with the Christian Feast Day of Christmas at all. They may have a Coca-Cola style Santa, a snowman, little elves, or even a pop band, singer or wotnot on the front.


So I am pleading with all my army of readers (yes, both of you) to not cave-in the chocolate Cadbury (owned by Kraft Foods anyway) calendars! We'll all eat enough chocolate and other goodies over Christmas anyway -- so whether buying for the grandchildren, children or the kids next door: choose an old fashioned Advent calendar, with a bit of Bethlehem about it!

In our own small way we can get Christmas back to being Christmas, and the period beforehand all about the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child, as Leonardo Da Vinci might say the Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World).

As the greatest Englishman of the 20th Century put it:

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes."
- G.K. Chesterton

GKC will be chuffed to know that's what I think too.

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