OK, it's time. Let's just get it over with. Change is a constant and most things need to be tweaked or spruced up every decade, century, millennium or so just to keep them current. The Mona Lisa and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel have been restored to the their former glory, the Statue of Liberty was rebuilt from the inside out and the Leaning Tower of Pisa underwent major corrective surgery to prevent it from becoming the Rubble Pile of Pisa.
The same goes for ideas. The earth is much older than the timeline presented in ancient religious texts, the earth is not flat, birds evolved from dinosaurs (which answers the age old question: the egg came first because it was laid by a dinosaur), and the B.C. Lions - playing out of swanky new Empire Stadium - did not upset the competitive balance in the CFL when they joined the league in 1954.
With that in mind, it's time to toss out another ancient fallacy: there are not four seasons, there are five. We missed a chance to correct the calendars for 2013, but all future timekeeping publications should reflect the current reality. The year starts in winter, and continues through spring, summer and autumn, which ends in mid-October and is followed by the 10-week fifth season: Christmas.
What started as a historically inaccurate (anecdotal evidence in the gospels would put the birth of Jesus somewhere in the spring, not late December) religious holiday has been twisted, spindled, skewed and molested into a full-blown consumerpalooza that dominates the mindset of Western society in the waning months of every calendar year.
The religious foundation - Jewish, Christian or pagan - the festival is based on has become hopelessly subverted by advertising, spending and overindulgence. Frank Costanza's Festivus celebrations seem less and less ludicrous every year.
Christmas long ago ceased to be a holy day and has become a retail force that drives the economy and measures consumer confidence in the government of the day. Juxtapose the obsessive number crunching of the Christmas sales figures in relation to the health of the national economy with that of another religious observation like Easter. Nobody bases predictions of financial doom and gloom upon the number of jelly beans, Peeps and chocolate bunnies sold each spring.
The Christmas machine has now ripped itself from its restraining shackles and is running amok as never before. The beast is loose and it's spawning new pseudo holidays of its own that pay tribute to the high gods of consumerism. Black Friday is now a landmark day for shoppers in a way that makes the old spending splurges of Boxing Day seem quaint and homespun. Even more amazing, this U.S. post-Thanksgiving phenomenon has taken hold in Canada too, even though we finished our last Thanksgiving turkey sandwich more than six weeks earlier.
And even that Visa card holiday has a twin sibling in something called Cyber Monday, an event dedicated to buying more crap you don't need, only this time you do it online. This retail event was created by a shopping website and, sadly, has caught on to the point where it gets coverage by news organizations.
(This all begs one minor but somewhat important question: if people in the U.S. are eating turkey on Thursday, shopping on Friday - and presumably through the weekend - before plunking down in front of the keyboard to on Monday to shop some more, when exactly are they working to earn money to play for all of these purchases? Ah, never mind; the newscasts are, by amazing coincidence, also running stories about the dramatic rise in consumer debt. It's now reached a point where I heard a comedian say his financial plan for dealing with his debt relied heavily on the Mayans being correct.)
The Christmas Beast must be fed and to keep it satisfied, it continues to push its boundaries. This year, I saw my first Christmas display in September and by late October the merchandise was everywhere, pushing the Halloween candies and paraphernalia to the side even though that event was still more than a week away.
Where will it end? Is Christmas expansion going to reach into January by usurping New Year's Day and beyond? Think of the possibilities. The ad wizards have already convinced us the only way we can show affection for each other is with baubles and trinkets. Look out Valentine's Day, it won't be long before you too are enveloped by the blob that ate Christmas.
But that might not be a bad idea. If we can fold Halloween, Hanukah, Diwali, Christmas, New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, Robbie Burns Day, Valentine's Day, Vaisakhi and Easter into one giant uber holiday, we won't have to take our holiday lights and artificial trees down until long after the robins have returned home on their annual post-Christmas seasonal migration.
Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com
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