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Merry Christmas

During the last few years, the institution of Christmas has been brought into sharp focus. All through this period newspapers have been emblazoned with headlines such as ‘Christmas will not be celebrated in schools’, ‘Christmas carols banned in schools’, with the media even reporting that a Queensland school had instigated a ‘Jesus Ban’, alarming parents throughout the state.

In the last 2021 census, 44 % of all Australians claimed Christianity as their religion with 39% opting for no religion at all. That’s an 8% fall in Christian numbers over the last 5-year period. Fifty years ago in 1966, 88% of all Australians claimed to be Christian. In 2016, 52% of all Australians nominated Christianity as their religion with 30% nominating no religious allegiance at all. Whereas 10-years earlier in the 2006 census only 19% held no religious belief. Islam with nearly 3%, followed by Hinduism and Buddhism combined, accounted in 2021 for nearly 8% and within our multicultural society these religions are growing.

Now politically correct folk claim that Christmas has no place in modern day multicultural Australia. They want to take the Christ out of Christmas and rename the greeting and the day ‘Happy Holiday’. Christmas in July has now become a recognised celebratory event, encouraged no doubt by an encouraging retail sector.

However, this challenge to the continued existence of Christmas is nothing new. Ever since Pope Julius I, in the year 350 AD when December 25 was established as Christ’s birthday, there has been endless debates on the date’s relevance. There is no historic evidence to indicate when Christ’s birth actually took place. It is said that Pope Julius I picked the date to counter a popular Roman feast called ‘Saturnalia’ in honour of the god Saturn.

Up to the early 1600’s England celebrated Christmas in much the same manner as it is today. Homes and churches were decorated, gifts exchanged with much eating, drinking and merriment was the vogue. But during the 1640’s the country became divided. King Charles I and his royalist army were defeated by Cromwell’s Puritans and with that victory Christmas’s festive days were numbered. The Christmas holiday was cancelled as were all festivities associated with it. While shops opened churches were closed. Christmas was reintroduced in 1660 with the accession of Charles II to the English throne. The Puritans left England to settle America in the 1680’s and continued to ban Christmas in their new home of American New England. It took until the mid-1700’s before Christmas was reintroduced into the American colonies with Christmas only becoming a designated US federal public holiday in 1870.

So what’s the answer? Are we about to bid farewell again to the festive season with Santa, the gifts, the cards, the decorated tree, the stockings, Christmas dinner and the carols. Being able to enjoy the wonderment of anticipation on children’s faces as well as the goodwill to all folk. Saying nothing of the retail industry’s potential dilemma by its possible disappearance.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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