Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The two gods of Christmas

On a theme I have touched on before, I note that as ever the people of Husborne Crawley (and outlying settlements such as Woburn, Bedford and Milton Keynes) are starting to decorate their houses with their idols.

Today is of course the Feast Day of Jolly St Nick.  St Nicholas might or might not be amused were he with us now - rather than being at the North Pole, clinging onto a melting ice floe and making smart-phones, as of course he really is - to see all the effigies of himself that are appearing outside houses, on roofs, in shops and on office desks around the country.

And if I may stretch my analogy beyond all reason - Santa - the god into whom St Nick, via the Germanic andd rather scary "Father Christmas" has morphed - is the last resort of the Market worshippers. For when the Market is failing its devotees, and the demon Recession (which is, lest we forget, good for the Environment (tm)) snaps at our heels - it is then that we turn, in darkness and dread fear, to Santa. Foul chaos comes, and the fettered gods of the earth hope for a Good Christmas on the High Street. One thinks of the Children of Israel, when Baal's not delivering the goods, wondering if Astarte can kick-start the recovery.

He's a fairly useless god, is Santa. He builds up your hopes till Christmas Eve and then, like the hopes of snow in early December, he melts in the misty drizzle of an unseasonably warm Christmas morning. He is flattened by the on-rush of the worshippers of the great god New Year Sales, as they head for the websites after dinner on Christmas day.

And leaves another god in his wake. A little, quiet, unassuming one who sneaks in on Christmas Eve, unable even to speak at this stage, while everyone's down the pub. Who isn't embarrassed by his image deflating on people's lawns in the run-down to Twelfth Night. Because he's used to being ignored and forgotten, laughed at and jeered at - beaten and bruised. He sneaks in while we're looking at big, bright, red Santa. But if you're not careful he can stay well beyond Boxing Day.

Happy St Nicholas' Day. And God bless us, one and all.


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