Christmas in December… Only!

Can I talk about a pet-peeve for a moment? Okay… (deep breath in, deep breath out).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge. I like Christmas a lot, I really do, particularly now that Christmas is representative of a family cultural tradition that never existed for P before, it has more meaning for me. I never felt that the holiday had a personal spiritual pull, but I can really embrace the cultural aspects of it. I try not to buy into a lot of the consumerism that surrounds the holiday, but I like different pieces of it… like Christmas carols, and cookie baking, and putting up my fake tree that sits in storage most of the year. I enjoy getting holiday cards and sticking them around the doorway in the living room like my Grandmother does…

Christmas *doesn't* need to be celebrated all year round...

But one thing that drives me bonkers every year is how early the Christmas “season” starts. I was really bothered when I walked into our local grocery store on October 31st and all the Halloween candy had been replaced with candy canes and red and green foil-wrapped chocolates. October 31st! They couldn’t even wait for Halloween to be officially over! The next day the grocery store replaced the pumpkins outside with little evergreen centerpieces with red and green bows, and not too long after that I saw Christmas trees being sold in an empty lot on my way home from work.

My sisters and my mother’s family are of the opinion that the Christmas “season” begins when Santa arrives at the end of the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving. As kids we used to watch it while at my grandmother’s house, and it was always very exciting to see Santa arrive. I’m fine with that… at least Thanksgiving is almost December. But October? Come on people.

I try to refrain from any Christmas celebrating (tree decorating, carol-listening, holiday parties, etc) in my house until December 1st. I’m happy to keep the Christmas season confined to one month, and only one month of the year. Otherwise I feel it is too much. I’m glad that I don’t work in retail… my sister who has a part-time job at a department store says they have been listening to Christmas songs for a month now, and in college I worked at a bookstore that had so much extra holiday stuff crammed in it was hard to walk around! At least we don’t have a tv so we don’t see a lot of the holiday advertisements in between programs.

P trys to help keep me to my promise of “Christmas in December Only.” Before we departed the apartment for our Thanksgiving roadtrip south he warned me that he hid the Christmas cds so I wouldn’t feel tempted, and when scanning the radio if I fell on a station playing carols we would move on to a different station. It’s not to be mean or un-festive, we are just trying to control how overblown the Christmas holidays have become. Let Halloween and Thanksgiving have their time and space, Christmas already has a full month.

It is hard to think of the Christmas season from the perspective of a family who never celebrated the holiday, but I would imagine for those who don’t celebrate it must get annoying when everywhere you turn there is something Christmas oriented, even if it is dressed up as “non-denominational holiday” festivities. It is truly hard to escape. However, I’ve grown up in a household that has fully embraced Christmas, so I even have a hard time imagining life without it.

For example: The first Christmas season that P and I were dating he came back with me from school so that he could meet my family before flying home to Nepal for his first visit in almost three years. My mother had a hilarious conversation with him, because she just couldn’t fathom a culture that didn’t celebrate Christmas. It went something like this:

Mom: “So, in Nepal-India, what do you do for Christmas?” (for a while she didn’t realize they were two separate countries).

P: “My family is Hindu, we don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Mom: “Yeah, but, you must put a tree up or something, right?”

P: “Nope, we are Hindu, so we don’t celebrate the holiday.”

(This goes on for a little while, with different pieces of Christmas iconography…)

Mom: “But you must have lights… I mean, everyone has lights… like in your window?”

P: “No… we don’t put up lights. We aren’t Christian, so we don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Mom: “But everyone puts lights! You don’t put lights for Christmas? Not even the stores? The stores must!”

P: (sensing my mom just couldn’t understand, he compromises…) “Well, maybe in some of the stores in the tourist district, but otherwise not really. A lot of people are Hindu or Buddhist, so most people don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Mom: (grasping on to something…) “ah, see that sounds right… at least the stores celebrate…”

So the point I am getting at is, December 1st has come and gone, thus officially opening the Christmas season in my house. This week the tree will go up and the carols will play. But don’t come knocking on my door November 3rd expecting any Christmas cookies!

11 responses to “Christmas in December… Only!

  1. here. here. I agree…Christmas comes WAY to early. by the time it actually comes around, I am kinda sick of it. Remember the really loud x-mas carols at that YMCA in Delhi that went on all night and day for the whole time we were there? that made for a bizarre experience…I imagine that celebrating christmas for the first time would be something like celebrating Divalli for the first time…which for me was like celebrating the fourth of July for days on end while wearing a Sari…and smiling pretty much the whole time until I had eaten too much Barfi…then I started groaning.

    • Christmas at the YMCA in Delhi… how could I ever forget!! Much like the ashram in Varanasi… etched into my memory forever!

  2. Well, I remember celebrating Christmas. I went to a catholic school so obviously there was some sort of influence. I probably didn’t celebrate it the actual way you do it here with gifts and all, but I remember having a christmas tree, lights, dressing up as santa, dancing and playing jingle bells. That is the only xmas song that I know or is it christmas carol? anyway, it wasn’t something that we did religiously every year but I remember celebrating it at least a few times. I am amazed P didn’t celebrate it – he went to a catholic school too. I guess he was never influenced.

    • P says, “our winter break was two months long starting in December , so we weren’t in school during Christmas. I don’t really remember celebrating, and my family didn’t celebrate it at home. ” so… I guess not. You’ll have to ask him about it the next time you see him! ;)

      • oh… I was just re-reading this post… I hope I didn’t make it sound like P doesn’t like Christmas… thats not the case either, he does enjoy it too… we just try to keep it under control ;)

  3. and oh yeah, we made snowman out of cotton. I loved that!

  4. LOL at the convo between P and your mom! Gotta love moms!

  5. I think the solution is for Hindu Americans to start celebrating the birthday of the Hindu God Mithras
    Until 380 AD, December 25th was celebrated by Romans as the birthday of Mithras

    Mithras was originally a Vedic Hindu God whose worship travelled to Rome through Persia

  6. Shyamsunder…maybe that’s the answer! My husband and I have been joking about celebrating “Christmahindu” this year. I thought about putting some Hindu gods on my tree…but was a little worried it seemed slightly sacreligious!

  7. Wiki

    *mitra [Hn-In मित्र ] (Proto-Indo-Iranian, nominative *mitras) was an important Indo-Iranian divinity. Following the prehistoric cultural split of Indian and Iranian cultures, names descended from *mitra were used for the following religious entities:

    * Mitra (Sanskrit Mitrá-, Mitráḥ), a deity who appears frequently in the ancient Indian text of the Rigveda.
    * Mithra (Avestan Miθra-, Miθrō), a yazata mentioned in the Zoroastrian sacred scripture of the Avesta, whose modern Persian equivalent is Mehr.
    * Mithras, the principal figure of the Greco-Roman religion of Mithraism.

    Vedic Mitra is a prominent deity of the Rigveda distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of ṛtá. Together with Varuna, he is counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra is a benevolent god, the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings.

    The first extant record of Indo-Aryan[8] Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. There Mitra appears together with four other Indo-Aryan divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

    Christmas consists of a merger of 3 things
    1. Birthday of ( Indian vedic god ) Mithras on December 25, representing the rebirth of the Sun
    2. Winter Solstice festival of the Germanic
    pagan religion ( a close cousin of the Indian vedic religion ) with Yule, Santa Claus, and Evergreen Tree

    3. Xtian nativity which borrowed the birthday of Mithras

    Except for item #3, Items 1 and 2 are fully compatible with Hinduism and nothing wrong in
    adding Hindu gods to a xmas tree which has no nativity scenes

  8. Mitrotsavam, the festival worshipping Mitra (Sun God), is being celebrated on the 25
    th of December, 2008. Mitra or Surya is the giver of all, a ¡pratyaksha deivam¢.

    Mitra is the provider of life itself, and of energy, light, and rains. Mitra is the bestower of all bounties on Earth and is worshipped as Savita by the most profound of mantras, the Gayatri mantra.

    In Trikkur village, Thrissur district, Kerala, Mitrotsavam rituals will begin at 9.00 am with a Ganapati Puja, followed by Surya Narayana Puja, 128 Surya Namaskarams, Chanting of Rig Veda Soura mantras, Surya Tarpanam, Savitr homam, Archana and chanting of Surya-Shlokas. There will be a sangeeta saparya (musical programme) by children. This will be followed by prasadam.

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