What Christmas is Really About

Posted on 2011/12/01

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Feature Image - What Christmas Is Really About

‘Tis the season, for the free thinker, to be reminded of the mental slavery of others.

Each year, large sections of our community, with considerable effort and resource, take this time to offer praise and thanks in dedication to a mythical being.

A being that has performed, and some say still performs, astounding miracles. A man with a deep understanding of the human condition.

One whose knowledge and presence is boundless. Who, we are told, listens to our thoughts and judges our every action. Whose commandments are maintained with the threat of punishment and the promise of reward. Who demands us to be fearful, but disallows expressions of fear.

Whose followers encourage us to worship Him in buildings that, the rest of the year, are usually much emptier. Yet, buildings that provide a constant reminder of His purpose here on Earth.

It is this time when parents indoctrinate their children into this cult with the performance of plays and the singing of songs. A time when children are enticed to watch films and read stories about His Message and His Promise of Return.

I am, of course, referring to Santa Claus.

Followers of Santa Claus – known as ‘Clausians’ (“Claw-ze-ans”) – derive their core beliefs from the central text: ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, which they claim was inspired by Santa Himself. Below, I provide a brief analysis of their faith.

A central motivation for their belief is fear. It is well known, by the dictator and terrorist alike, that a vague threat is far more powerful than an explicit one. Who can think of a more chilling example than the Clausian imperative: ‘you better watch out’?

As with most faiths, Clausianity requires its followers to adhere to several ritual pieties. Crying and pouting are both prohibited and any transgression of these injunctions is considered a sin.

Despite the known multifarious nature of human morality, Clausian Ethics simply divides people into two groups: those who are ‘bad’ and those who are ‘good’. One denomination denies this distinction is ethically salient, replacing it with the ‘naughty and nice’ dichotomy. However, this is a minor sect and most agree that the two systems are equivalent.

Although not found in scripture, Clausians believe in a form or retributive justice, where ‘good’ behaviour is rewarded and ‘bad’ behaviour is punished. In addition, some Clausians affirm the principle of ‘special gifting’ that states it is not enough to simply ‘be good’. For them, the receiving of gifts is also conditional upon a belief in Santa.

The ‘Day of Judgement’ is considered to occur each year on December 24th when Santa’s verdict is made known to all. It is widely accepted that year-to-year judgements are independent, with only the previous year’s events taken into consideration.

One major point of debate in Clausian ethics is the question of what constitutes ‘being good’.  Some Clausians are consequentialist in thought, maintaining that it is the outcome of one’s actions that determine ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Other deontologist views emphasize one’s intentions or behaviour are also taken into account.

However, the source of greatest divide among the faithful concerns how one reads the verse ‘so be good for goodness sake!’. Fundamentalist Clausians read ‘for goodness sake’ as to place emphasise upon the wrath one would incur for disobedience. Contrastingly, moderate Clausians interpret it as an appeal for one to do good, in and of itself.

Then we come to the internal contradictions. We are to suppose that ‘He knows if you’ve been bad or good’ but that He is ‘gonna find out who’s naughty and nice’. Why would Santa need to find out that which he already knows? Literalists cohere these two verses by reading the latter as a warning to those who think they can escape Santa’s Judgement.

Related to this is the concept that Santa is omnipresent. Many cite ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping’ as proof of this claim – reminding us that, at any given time, around 1 billion people are asleep.

Idolatry is not only permitted, but also encouraged and expected in the Clausians faith. Retailers and home-owners annually adorn their buildings with elaborate symbolism, often competing with their neighbours for who can offer the most epilepsy-inducing display of worship.

As is well known, we are all encouraged to exchange gifts in homage to Santa’s generosity on the Special Day. In recent years this ritual has been secularised (and some say commercialized), reworked as a day to celebrate human solidarity during the season. Moderate Clausian even dress up as Santa Himself and distribute gifts and ‘good cheer’ to all. Fundamentalists are quick to point out that this practice is a mockery of the faith, often resulting in bad children receiving unjust rewards.

Then there are the reports of miracles. Although not within the canon itself, Santa’s miraculous feats feature heavily in Clausian philosophy, poetry and literature. Converted to the medium of cinema, these tales attract new believers to the faith, with stories of miraculous flights and impossible delivery schedules.

Again, fundamentalists oppose the clutter of irrelevant reindeer and tedious elves who, they say, distract from the serious themes of the faith.

And so, dear reader, you now are privy to the main doctrines and practices of Clausianity. And when you find yourself donning a hat, singing a song, or exchanging a gift this season: think on this article, and the true meaning of Christmas.

Posted in: Comedy, Religion