A very frosty reception

Everyone is just about to pack up and go home for Christmas but there are still some aspects of the holidays that leave people cold. JAMES ELLIS spoke to some of them...

Anthony McGready,
independent Satanist

Satanists and devil worshippers are two very different things. Satanism is a religion founded by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966 and the the philosophy is outlined in his book, The Satanic Bible. We don't see Satan as a living entity or god and we especially don't believe he is red with big horns, a pointy tail and a pitchfork. But Satan is portrayed by the Church as a rebel and that forms the core of our belief: that people should be individuals. For us, the centre of our universe is ourself. We celebrate Christmas by putting a darker spin on secular and pagan rituals and follow LaVey's lead about religion and Christ. He said: Satan signifies our love of the worldly and our rejection of the pallid ineffectual image of Christ on the cross. We can't be doing with the whole religious aspect of the holiday as it's against our beliefs.
You won't find us going around and kicking down nativity scenes - although for evangelical Christians who believe their celebrations are being eroded by secular festivities and symbols, it may interest them to know that Santa is an anagram of Satan.

The secularist
Terry Sanderson President of the National Secular Society
The idea we are against Christmas is a fallacy that has been perpetrated by people such as the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who complained about 'aggressive secularists' taking Christ out of Christmas. The Church seems to be obsessed with overt political correctness but that is its own insecurity as it sees people celebrating the holidays in a more traditional way - as the ancient festival it was originally.
In ancient Rome, Christmas - was called Saturnalia, during which there would be mass overindulgence. In ancient Nordic times, the god Thor was thought to be the one who came from the sky delivering gifts; the origin of Santa Claus. Christmas pudding, which is round and set on fire, represents the returning sun, as the Winter Solstice starts and days begin to get longer. I shall be with my family and doing all the usual stuff such as watching telly, pigging out and drinking too much. We will have a tree, which is strictly forbidden as a pagan act in the Book of Jeremiah. In this country', we work hard, so what's wrong with just a couple of days' rest? Why do people have to feel guilt-tripped into going to church? It's fine for those who want to; we don't want to interfere in people's worship. It's just not our way .All they do is talk about dreary stuff like Jesus's life and death anyway.

The anti-capitalist
Sarah Sachs-Eldridge of anti-capitalist youth organisation  International Social Resistance
As an organisation, we are looking forward to Christmas. Being anti-capitalist does not exclude you from being Christian or any faith. But there is pressure being put on people to spend, spend, spend at this time of year. Shops are under pressure to sell and people are under pressure to buy. This rampant consumerism is not down to everyday people but fuelled by those companies making a profit. Inevitably, people are pushed into debt. HSBC made £11billion this year, HBOS benefited from the Farepak scandal and Philip Green of Topshop earned a £1.2billion dividend last year. Last week, it was reported that a City high-flyer bought an £80,000 fur coat, so it's obvious some people have gone consumer crazy. But does it have to be like this? We don't think it does, our experience is that people are trying to cut down on the consumer side of the holidays. We've recently been campaigning against cuts in the NHS and people have been very supportive. People still think of their coinmunity. It's just the big companies that don't follow suit.

The anti-symbolist
Havard Torring of the Anti-Santa Liberation Army

I started the Anti-Santa Liberation Army ten years ago. I did it because, for two months of the year, you can't go anywhere without being bombarded by this red-dressed image of Santa Claus, which is a total invention of the Coca-Cola company. All it does is encourage us to buy more and more .Then at some point you have to tell children he does not exist. What kind of beliefs are we teaching young people when we give them a fantasy figure and then take it away later? My personal view is that Christmas should go back to being a more Christian festival but I do recognise that people are different and have different views to mine. But I'd just like to get rid of this awful image that is everywhere  -it's not right and it's not what Christmas is about . htoerrin/ffnb/asla.html

Christmas shoppers: The bane of anti-capitalists Ho ho no! Santa Claus is on a road to nowhere if even roads signs are outlawing him

Edited by BEL JACOBS

Bishop Peter HughesAS A Christian living in Tameside I feel that some need to be reminded that Christmas is celebrated almost the world over in remembrance that 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. This is why we have Christmas and it is with great sadness that yearon year we see Christ being taken out of Christmas. Christians in this country nave become the silent majority .Our options and beliefs have been trampled on to cater for the very vocal minority.Who, if asked would be offended by a Christian country celebrating a Christian festival? However, the decision as to whether the minority would be offended or not has already been assumed by politically correct individuals who see any mention of Christianity as a form of offence to our friends in the minority .The really sad thing is that if you were to go to a school and ask 100 children what the meaning of Christmas was, then you would be lucky if even one child could tell you about the birth of the Saviour Jesus Christ. As Christians we believe that we have a father in Heaven and as such that makes us all brothers and sisters. May we reach out to those around us who long for the warmth of friendship and someone to talk to. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.
Church of Jesus Christ or Latterday Saints, Ashton 1st Ward

Christmas is not offensive

I, LIKE many people, find it difficult to understand some of the comments made about Christmas time and other Christian celebrations. I have yet to meet anyone from another faith to tell me they might be offended by it, or that they could be upset about it. I do meet many people from all religions in my work. My house is full of Christmas cards from many different people. One very large one is from the Asian Elders in Tameside. I am glad we have very little of this nonsense in Tameside. It's clear this issue does not arise out of any comments made by people from other faiths but from people who sometimes see problems that are not there. We can and do respect each other's religions and beliefs in this country and I will enjoy and celebrate Christmas again this year with all my friends and I will enjoy and celebrate with others at their festivals. COUNCILLOR JOHN TAYLOR
[The Advertiser Jan11,2007]

Long live the 'C', word

Christmas: What's it all about?

I read with disbelief your article about the school not using the word Christmas in case it offends anyone (Metro, Wed). Don't get me wrong, I am proud of our multicultural nation and its ability to embrace difference but, once again, political correctness has gone too far. During the World Cup, we were not allowed to fly the St George's cross in support of our nation and now schools fear using the word Christmas, a magical word for the vast majority of children. Will churches also be banned one day to avoid offence? When is this nation going to stand up for itself and allow us to continue with our own identities and traditions in our homeland?

Paul Glossop, Leeds

I'm sick of reading about how there isn't enough religious recognition in Christmas today, and then articles of how there's too much religion and the word Christmas should be banned. For me, Christmas is about treating the ones you love; it has no religious significance. Children do not sit on Jesus's knee in shopping centre grottos - and few of us spare a thought for him dying on a cross as we open presents. The loss of the little remaining religious content of Christmas is only going to offend Christians. Let Christians have their 'Christ-mass' - I'll stick with my 'Christmas'.

Jake Archibald, London E16

[Metro  Dec21,2006]

Season reasoning:Is Christmas just for Christians?

What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Perhaps someone should inform E Mathieson and others (Metro, Thu) that December 25 is probably not Christ's birthday. The custom was invented some time after the 7th century when the existing pagan celebration of the winter solstice was banned by the Church. Seeking to encourage conversions, the date, as well as much of the symbolism and lore, was simply reinterpreted to include Bible characters. December 25 was observed by a number of religions, many now wiped out by the rise of Christianity, and, as such, the holiday belongs to us all.
Doug Inman, Surrey

What right have Christians to claim Christmas solely as theirs anyway? Christmas has merely been plastered over the festival of Yule, a pre-Christian tradition, as Christ was born some time in the summer. E Mathieson cannot exclusively lay claim to the festive season at all. Let's return to Yule and celebrate that we are here, the Sun will rise and we have everything we need.
Louisa Pike, London SE18

Christmas cheer:Santas in Londonderry

Santas at Warwick Castle

The Santa Delusion Should Santa be unmasked? It's a long held cultural conspiracy, but one that's still going strong. Children all around the world write letters to Santa Claus, visit his grotto, and leave a glass of milk and a mince pie beside the fire on Christmas Eve. So is it a harmless fantasy that children benefit from, or a cruel deception that encourages materialism?....MORE
MORE than 13,009 Santas set a Guinness World Record at a charity event on the walls of Londonderry in Ulster yesterday. The total was almost double the number at Las Vegas in a recent bid to break the record for the largest number of Santas in one place. Meanwhile, 142 skating santas formed the longest chain of people on ice at Britain's first ice trail at Warwick Castle.

Is playing Santa all it'scracked up to be? Claire Coakley talks to and old hand at Ho-Ho-Ho-ing [Metro Dec18,2007]

Colin Stevens, 42, is the resident Father Christmas at London's famous Regent Street, toy store, Hamleys. Here he tells Metro about the trials and tribulations of playing Santa

I hold an official diploma from Santa School it's a one-day training course held in a different place annually. This year we had a very nice day at a Travelodge in Holborn. There were more than 20 Santas, some old ones doing a refresher course like me - I've been doing this job for years - and others learning the ropes.
There were a few actors, teacher and a builder. We learn about the history of Father Christmas, going all the way back to Greek times, and we're shown how to dress our beards. Mine is special, it's real hair from a yak or something. I put curlers in it every night and two or three in the moustache once a week.
Eyebrows are very important, too - a lot of people forget them. We use a special technique to make them white and bushy, using a cotton bud and white make-up.
We're told how to 'Ho ho ho' and what the hot presents that year are. At Santa School, we're always told: 'You don't do money, don't do cars, don't do diamonds.' We only do nice presents and we always say we can't promise everything.

Pushy parents
I always do a three-fold 'Ho' - I think too many is too much of a good thing. I limit myself to two or three a day, otherwise it gets a bit boring. I ask other people to do it to see how good they are, it saves my voice. And there are things I can't be seen to do, such as eating or going to the toilet.
At Hamleys, I do a walkabout, which is much more fun than terrifying the children in a grotto. It's a scary thing going through a curtain and seeing a fat old man sat in the corner. I don't like it very much. I prefer the walking around.
The parents can be terrible. The dads always want to get in the joke - you have to stop them ruining it. They say things like: 'Oh, you're a bit big to get down our chimney Santa,' and they don't let the little boy or girl get a word in edgeways.
Then you've got the pushy mothers who say: 'Don't smile because you'll show your missing teeth,' when the children are having their photos taken with me.
My requests today included a little girl who wanted hair curlers and a bunch of boys who wanted Ferraris. Once, a few years ago, when I was on a sleigh, telling the audience how I fly around, one girl asked me to: 'Hug Daddy.' I thought that was a strange present. Mummy then explained that Daddy had gone to heaven.
I travel to work on the Tube and I love the fact that no one knows what I'm going to do. Although there is one girl in the coffee shop who knows and she gives me a wink when she makes my latte because she knows she's making it for Father Christmas.
I start at nine and do about four or five hours a day.My hero is Raymond Briggs, the illustrator and author [who wrote The Snowman]. I'm his kind of Santa. I hated Bad Santa with Billy Bob Thornton - it wasn't even fimny, although it was a good idea because I enjoy being a naughty Santa when the children aren't around.

Fantasy figure
I'm going to do a bankers' party in the City this week. Those City bankers let their inner children come out. I've even been propositioned in the grotto-a couple of ladies once asked me for a Christmas shag.
Even though Father Christmas is a fantasy figure, I'd never keep on the costume in the bedroom - that would be too weird. I have done the ironing in it once, though.
I also do Selfridges Birmingham and I'm doing a TV drama next year based on a man who plays Father Christmas. I do tend to lose myself in playing him. One terrible moment happened in Selfridges Birmingham when one little brat, a 12-year-old, in front of all her family and a load of three and four-year-olds deliberately tore my beard off. It's glued on so it bloody hurt. It was hideous because, of course, it spoiled the magic. I was very angry it ruined it for all the younger ones. I had to have a stern word with the girl's mother. I really would have liked to have grabbed that 12-year-old's neck.

Edited by Andrew Williams

We need to keep Christmas as Christian

OUR district assemblies beautifully decorated the borough for the festive season, underlying the fact that there is still a place for Christ at Christmas.
Without the truth, love and caring that lies behind that belief, all we are left with is a mad, angry society. I was appalled that there were headteachers in state schools who were thinking of celebrating an alternative Christmas, denying the right of children to know the true meaning of this most important celebration in the Christian calendar.
All state schools are required by law to teach pupils about the important events in the calendars of other religions and celebrate them throughout the year Rightly so, but how do they then justify denying the right to celebrate this Christian event?
Aren't we supposed to be teaching tolerance towards and understanding of everyone's beliefs, whatever they are? And for the Red Cross to disallow its charity shops from decorating its shops for Christmas beggars belief.
What is the world coming to!
If we deny one we should deny all and do away with acknowledging any faiths and their celebrations and festivals altogether.
However, as one who truly believes, I know for certain that without Christ not only in Christmas but in my life, my life would have no meaning. God bless you allCouncillor John Taylor.
Jean Sutcliffe
Wych Fold
Gee Cross

Dear Ed,

In response to Jean Sutcliffe, who must be quite sad not to have any meaning in her life, outside of the false belief that Christmas is a Christian festival,I would like to point out that the Metro newspaper has carried several letters recently, pointing out that Dec25th was hijacked by Christians attempting to brainwash pagans into believing in Christ,and in fact even Christian scholars do not think Christ was born at Xmas.

Various historical traditions which shed light on Christmas's true origins can be found at The delusion maintained by Christians is what offends many people and whilst I would rather have a large fat man delivering presents (St Nicholas has little to do with Christ either according to Channel 4 TV) and goodwill to men - the idea that Xmas is a Christian festival is only true because they hijacked the pagan Winter Solstice festival. Perhaps this explains why Councillor John Taylor receives odd letters seeing as he doesn't understand why Xmas is offensive either.

Keep Christmas traditional

I AGREE with Jean Sutcliffe's point of view (We need to keep Christmas as Christian Readers' Letters 3 Jan) and, in terms of her faith, I must confess I'm lapsed! The problems here are political correctness and apathy. Political correctness is crippling freedom in the UK and is an ideology which is fundamentally anti-Christian. It is equally an ideology which is anti-freedom. We've become a nation utterly divided, hampered by petty legislation and monumental folly all because of bureaucracy We're fogbound by more rules than you can shake a stick at, and we are frightened to say 'boo' to a goose! Let's face it, Jesus Christ is the greatest revolutionary who ever lived, and Christ embraced controversy and indeed, he still does! We need to challenge political correctness with vigour and shake off the fog of apathy before it really is too late.
Milton Avenue,Stalybridge

[Advertiser Jan17,2008]

Metro 18/11/08

Metro 19/11/08

Metro 20/11/08

Metro circa 9/4/09

Dear Ed,

I am surprised that yet again Christians in the guise of Luke and Alastair think that Easter is about Christ. As many Metro contributors pointed out in your column about Christmas,it was a pagan festival stolen by Christians,easter is the same.It is the festival of oestrus or new life and as such, the egg and rabbit are symbols of reproduction and are more pertinent historically than attending a Christian Church - all of that is thanks to Henry the 8th and as BBC keeps on telling us.





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