The ‘tru’ meaning of Christmas could have been so different
22 December 2017
TUMBY BAY - With Christmas nearly upon us, I have a couple of questions.
But let’s start off with some suppositions.
If you are a believer the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. Sent here by God to save mankind from itself no less.
If you are a non-believer the meaning of Christmas is mostly to do with the end of seasons and celebrations of goodwill through acts of giving and eating too much.
This is personified by a character variously referred to as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle in the USA.
I wonder who sent us Santa Claus. Maybe Mammon or was it an American spin doctor? We do know that in 1881 this illustration by Thomas Nast in the US magazine Harper’s Weekly, helped create Santa’s modern image.
Now to some more profound questions.
How come God sent his son to Bethlehem? In the Middle East of all places? From what I hear it wasn’t a bad spot way back then.
Why didn’t he send him to.… I don’t know, Papua New Guinea, Waigani for instance?
If God was intent on saving sinners what better place could he pick?
Papua New Guinea was positively lousy with sin, just ask the missionaries.
You name it, PNG had it all. False idols, sorcery, tribal warfare, nudity etcetera. A few of the people were eating each other for goodness sake!
Weren’t God’s priorities off a bit? And why didn’t he tell anyone in PNG what he was up too at the time?
Alright, so he eventually got round to it. But in the late 19th century no less. Bit late I would have thought.
I suppose there might have been some practical considerations. If he had sent His son to Papua New Guinea we probably would have made him a Grand Chief. That would have made the whole story a bit better - driving the corrupt out of the temples and all that.
Okay, so now let’s look at those whacko atheists and those true believers who like a bit of knees-up and pudding with their piety.
How come Santa Claus wears a heavy weight red suit with fur trim and drives a sled pulled by a reindeer?
Why doesn’t he wear arse-grass and drive a Toyota pulled by pigs?
Oh, now I think about, he knows about the Highland Highway.
And why does he insist on landing on roofs made of grass or saksak that are likely to collapse from the weight at any moment?
Why does he climb down chimneys that don’t exist and putting all the goodies in stockings that no one in their right mind would wear in the tropics?
Don’t get me wrong. I reckon God, Jesus and Santa Claus are good blokes.
Hang on! Did I say ‘blokes’?
What happened to the ladies?
How come God sent Her son, not Her daughter? Has God even got a daughter?
How come Santa Claus is an old fat white male? Aren’t they on the outer at the moment?
Wouldn’t someone like Kim Kardashian make a better Santa Claus?
Oh, I see, big bum – no good for sliding down chimneys. What was I thinking?
What a strange, hyped up world we live in.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we just forgot all that hype and just used the time to get on with each other for once, catch up with old friends and generally bask in peace and good fortune for a while?
Bit boring you reckon?
Oh well, I tried.
Meri Krismas na Hepi Nu Yia igo lo ol PNG na poroman wantok blo mi.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 23 December 2017 at 09:05 AM
Christmas has always brought expectations...we must have what the others are having, even if these items are of not real essential value or use. Papua New Guineans regardless of which scale on the ladder, want to have and be, and feel.
Even the raskols and petty thieves must have something. I had two young men in Erima, NCD putting their hands right into my car and went for my mobile phone, while the mad rush for shopping, stocking the drinks, and food was going on around me this afternoon.
My quick reflexes saved my phone and also some of my most valuable and important contacts!!
It is too commercialized to the extent that business and big retail houses use all manner of trickery to empty the pockets of those who have been affected by the disease of materialism...Port Moresby puts on a different character around Christmas. It attracts the best, and hardworking and genuine people, but also the worst, and those who prey on others.
Sapos yu ino inap bilipim toktok bilong me, yu yet kam na lukim!!
Posted by: John K Kamasua | 22 December 2017 at 08:13 PM
Dear Peter, This rekindles some memories.
Roger McGough is a wantok and was born near Bootle in Liverpool. He teamed up with Mike McGear (Paul McCartney's step brother) and John Gorman from Birkenhead to form The Scaffold in the 1960s.
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 22 December 2017 at 02:12 PM
I read recently that one of the reasons Christianity became so widespread after Roman Emperor Constantine converted (so I heard) on his death bed, perhaps to make sure he got the best of both worlds, was that many other societies virtually put down women as second class citizens who had nothing but childbearing and death to look forward to.
Apparently, even though some would have us believe otherwise, early Christians could still cope with the concept that women too could go to whatever awaited them after death.
In the case of the Vikings, for example, women didn't have much to look forward to as Valhalla seemed pretty much a boys club. In case of another medieval religion, perhaps 72 virgins might not be such a great expectation to look forward to if they happened to be of the same sex? Whoops... Don't go there.
The real essence of Christmas (Christ Mass) when I was a kid was to concentrate on the intangible and spiritual benefits of giving something to another person and thereby making them happy. We didn't have much in those days and what we did have had to be cherished and looked after.
The fact that the concept of giving without any expectation of receiving has now been thoroughly commercialised has almost destroyed that aspect. If one can detach materialism from the process of reciprocity, maybe that's a good start point.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 22 December 2017 at 09:31 AM
"You name it, PNG had it all. False idols, sorcery, tribal warfare, nudity etcetera. A few of the people were eating each other for goodness sake!"
When I was a teenager we sat through many hours of sermons, presentations and missionary slide shows, listened breathless to stories of cannibalism, and saw photos of topless women.
We called it Missionary Porn. It was our equivalent of watching "Cannibal Holocaust"
Posted by: Peter Kranz | 22 December 2017 at 07:02 AM
Good one Phil. Reminds of a poem by that old raskol Roger McGough.
I’m fed up looking like Father Christmas,’
Muttered Father Christmas one year
‘I need a new outfit, I must move with the times
So for a start, it’s goodbye reindeer’
He googled Alternative Santas
And was amazed at the stuff that appeared
He got rid of the holly-red costume
Had a haircut, and shaved off his beard
Spent his days in front of a computer
In a cave hollowed out of the ice
Wearing a tee shirt emblazoned Merry Xmas
And jeans (Amazon, Armani, half price)
Couldn’t wait to straddle his snow-ped
(The bargain he’d bought on eBay)
A rocket-powered silver toboggan
His supersonic sleigh
Then one morning he thought, ‘Oh why bother
Delivering presents by hand
When it could all be done online
Busy parents will understand
We are lucky to live in a digital age
Where the aim is access and speed
SantaNet I’ll call the system
And that was years and years ago
Times that children barely know
Midnight mass and mistletoe
Christmas carols and candle glow
Sleigh bells ringing across the snow
And Santa singing Yo ho ho
For that was years and years ago
And that was years and years ago.
Posted by: Peter Kranz | 22 December 2017 at 05:09 AM