This morning I listened to Danish Christmas songs. I started to cry. And asked myself why.
It wasn’t difficult to figure out, the pure voices stirred up emotions and memories, but the obvious answer didn’t satisfy me. There had to be more to it than that. Over the last days, social media has been filled with greetings, expressions of love, and Christmas or Hanukkah thoughts. Even pagan and Saturnalia greetings took up not a small measure of space. The pages almost burst with seasonal cheer, although there were jesting and sarcastic comments, mixed up with the more serious or, sometimes sentimental, thoughts.
On the surface I enjoyed the banter just as much as the pictures. I listened to all sorts of seasonal songs and marvelled at the variety and the inventiveness that went into all these posts.
So, what was it that urged me to think? Also, that wasn’t difficult to answer, not on the surface. Collectively, we love seasonal cheer. We want to leave everyday bleakness to the side, even if only for a few hours. Some of us can’t help thinking bah humbug, but we mostly succumb to the flashing lights and the dream of warm and fuzzy merriment.
There’s no doubt that commercialism has done much to distort our reactions to everything, from Halloween to Christmas, from Easter to Valentine’s etc. On the other hand, I believe that many of these holidays express something that lies deeper. It isn’t easy to define, but is it possible that we long for lost innocence?
There was a time when I thought the world was basically good. I believed in Christmas. Not only that: I thought that life was just, and people got what they wanted and needed. I had no idea that race and religion place barriers between people, at least, I thought that it couldn’t be a big problem. I saw people as a big family. I was hopelessly naïve.
I read about other cultures, about Egypt, about China, about the Middle east and Africa, but I didn’t understand, what seems obvious. To me, we were all the same: human beings, with needs and wishes, which would be granted one way or another. I had no awareness about gender or race. When did it change? I hardly know, but it changed, and it was a long and painful journey.
© HMH, 2017