The other day I was out shopping, and was surprised (bearing in mind this is April—a couple of weeks before Easter, no less) when a Christmas song came on as part of the store’s muzak. The shop assistant near me was evidently more disturbed, as they muttered something to the effect of “oh, that’s not right” and scurried off to rectify the situation.
Funnily enough, I wasn’t particularly bothered either way (mind you, I didn’t have to stay in the shop until my shift ended), whereas in six months time it would probably be cringe-inducing. I suspect Christmas (commercial) cheer is a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back, so one song on its own isn’t a problem.
What did make me think was the strong association between Christmas and snow (I can’t remember what the song was, but snow was involved somewhere). I’ve spent several Christmases in the southern hemisphere, where Christmas is in mid-summer, yet there is still the same association—decorations including artificially-frosted windows and things like that. It’s probably a cultural hangover of some sort, given the amount of influence the USA and UK/Europe have on the rest of the western world.
A common criticism of Easter and/or Christmas traditions is that they’re not really Christian at all; they’re repackaged pagan seasonal festivals. Critics also complain that the dates are inaccurate (mainly for Christmas—the date for Easter is calculated similarly to the date for the Jewish Passover). Both criticisms miss the point somewhat. New ideas are more easily accepted when they are presented in familiar terms—early Christians quite sensibly co-opted existing holidays but gave them a different title and meaning. Secondly, celebrating something on the “wrong” day doesn’t invalidate the “right” day, or render the celebration irrelevant. The Commonwealth don’t celebrate the Queen’s birthday on the actual day (or even the same day in different countries).
To me, both Easter and Christmas are times to either celebrate significant historical events (if you believe them), and/or to enjoy a break (which goodness knows we could all use at times) and the chance to be with family and friends.
I still find the snow thing kind of silly, though. 🙂