Christmas, eh? Let’s all deck the halls with boughs of decorations. After all, it’s technically against the law not to. With this in mind I headed into town at the weekend and found me some decos. In a deco shop (see photo). And what a varied display they had, all nicely lit up and expensive. They seemed to have the complete set…
Snowman in top hat…check. Mini snowmen…also, check. And rightly so. Snowmen are associated with Christmas because of that movie (the one where a snowman forces a kid to sing falsetto). And that song, about Frosties. And because snowmen offer such a great metaphor for teaching children about death. In the end, snowmen are so Christmassy because the world’s more important hemisphere celebrates Christmas during its winter season. And that’s the hemisphere that really matters.
Reindeer…check. Yes, because Santa Claus is from Finland and eats reindeer. Or something. Anyway, he totally hangs out with reindeer during Christmas. And what could be more Christmassy than Santa Claus?
Shining star…check. Yes. For at Christmas time, all the stars come out on our screens. Movie stars, TV stars, rock stars, the lot. It’s wall-to-wall stars.
Finally, we have one further entity. What’s that right there in the middle? The beaky dude with the arms? Ah yes, of course. It’s the penguin. You know. That famous Christmas penguin.
That famous species that lives all year round in icy environments exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s winter in July. Which have nothing whatsoever to do with Lapland or the North Pole or Santa Claus or any other snow-related imagery linked thereto.
It seems that penguins have successfully photobombed Christmas. (It turns out there are millions of ’em). I think I kind of have a problem with that. I might feel a bit like the Pope does about donkeys on this one.
But wait. I refuse to believe that professional commercial Christmas decoration producers will actually have taken a product all the way from drawing board to manufacture to market on the basis of a false premise: namely, that penguins live on or near the North Pole where Santa Claus is from. Uh-huh. Professional commercial Christmas decoration producers are just not that poorly informed.
I can only conclude that Christmas has now essentially become a festival of generic snow. Any kind of snow will do — winter snow, summer snow, North Pole or South. Might as well put a pair of skis up on your wall, or some tyre chains. If it’s got to do with snow, it’s got to do with Christmas.
And that’s fine with me.
Happy Snowtime everyone!
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.