Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Myth Of The Myth Of Winterval

Now Christmas is upon us (honestly, look at the shops!) there will be two traditions that will be making a re-emergence. Firstly some conservative commentators will refer to the liberal hostility to Christmas by the left citing the case of Birming City Council replacing Christmas with "Winterval" one year. Next various liberal commentators will refer to conservative scaremongering about "the war on Christmas" by pointing out that Christmas was a part of the interval celebrations so the controversy was in fact bogus.

In fact there is an important point about the original "Winterval" that is often overlooked. As the Birmingham Post put it at the time:

A LEADING churchman has launched an astonishing attack on council chiefs over Christmas.
The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev Mark Santer, has accused Birmingham City Council of replacing Christmas with `Winterval'.
He calls the decision madness - and says there is a danger of the secular world becoming deeply embarrased by faith.
The Bishop's hard-hitting remarks are contained in his Christmas message which has been sent to all clergy and churches in the diocese.
Last night, the city council said Winterval was not another name for Christmas, and the winter festival would have traditional Christmas at its heart.
The row comes five years after the city council insisted on Christmas lights being called festive lights to avoid offending religious and racial minorities.
In other words, it wasn't irrational paranoia to suspect that Birmingham City Council were trying to phase out Christmas to be politically correct, because that was exactly what they had done just a few years previously. Given that most of the same people were in charge it seems to me that Winterval probably was an attack on Christmas- after all Christmas isn't usually a secondary festival- albeit more subtle than is often acknowledged.

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