Apparently it's Christmas. I can tell by the carols and songs blaring like sugary Muzak in the malls along with all the hideous decorations throughout town and all through the shops. If rate-payers are going to pay for civic Christmas decorations, they should at least get new ones every year, not pull out the same, dirty, 20 year old baubles and tinsely crap and hang them over our streets.
Now I may be a bit of a humbug - a few years working at Burger King (even part-time) is enough to make anyone a cynic, but add to that the fact that the BK I worked at is in a mall with the same 10 Christmas songs on infinite loop blaring inescapably in all corners of the mall throughout all of December and half of November and the season quickly starts to grate.
I refuse to listen to the radio during the Christmas season in order to maintain my daily dose of not listening to Snoopy's Christmas - which I would sooner be water-boarded than listen to again.
Yes, I hate Christmas. The annoying decorations, the music - especially how everyone has to put out a Christmas album - the sales, advertising and shopping rush, the TV shows telling you how to make the lunch easier to cook, American sitcoms that have some horrible accident happen on Christmas Eve but everything comes right by midnight then the church-bells ring and it starts snowing as if it's a miracle that Christmas actually happens and that it's even more miraculous for it to snow in winter and so on and so on (that might be more indicative of my disdain for sitcoms). Don't get me wrong: I love giving and receiving presents - it's just annoying to have to do it for everyone, all at once.
Now, I'm not saying that we should stop celebrating Christmas and I'm certainly not saying that it shouldn't be a holiday, I'd just like a nice, quiet Christmas, free from all the carols, decorations and TV specials. No hassles like complicated dinners and making sure the Tree looks right. (Seriously, the Tree is the tradition I am equally most puzzled about and most annoyed by - "Let's stick a tree inside and vomit baubles and tinsel on it and cover it in lights!" Utter nonsense.)
I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in all the Jesus stuff, but I don't want to cancel Christmas - we need statutory holidays - both so we can get a day off or can get paid time-and-a-half if we choose to work - and we might as well stick with the holidays that already exist - they're arbitrary anyway. Christmas, Easter, Labour day, Waitangi day or the equivalent in whatever country you're from and others. Christmas was the celebration of Midwinter - celebrating that the sun was now moving north in the sky (relative to pagans, not the solar system) and spring was on it's way. We have summer in New Zealand over Christmas, but by the time the colonists came to the Antipodes, it had become synonymous with the birth of Christ, so we were stuck with December 25th.
So, it's a nice excuse to take a day off, spend time with your family (or your cat if you're alone) and exchange gifts. But do we really need a special day for Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men (and, I suppose, Women too)? Why do we need to be told to be nice to everyone? I like to think I'm nice to everyone regardless of what day it is. If we set one day aside for being nice, does that mean we get to be arseholes for the rest of the year? Do we hate our family for the whole year? And if we do, why must we pretend to like each other on Christmas?
Maybe I'd like it more if it was balanced. I propose another holiday on June 25th. Anti-Christmas. Where we're all rude to each other, we don't have fancy dinners, prices go up, all radio stations play death metal, and we make sure not to give any presents to anyone, but instead tell everyone what we truly thought of their presents at Christmas. There will be a moratorium on wrapping paper. We can't kill the baby Jesus, because Easter already takes care of that, but we can at least be bitter.
So a merry arbitrary holiday and a happy new Gregorian cycle.