[intro-text size=”25px”]We’re sliding uncontrollably toward the holidays, so it’s expected we’ll hear once again about the war on Christmas. For years I felt that this “war” was bullshit, concocted by insecure religious zealots. However, I’ve come to realize that the war is very real — and Christmas is winning.[/intro-text]
It’s 2015, and despite the many advancements we’ve made as a diverse country full of varying beliefs, every December is still dominated by Santa and company. Even people entirely devoid of any religion are celebrating the day, leaving other popular festivities like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa only for the truly devoted. Sure, X-mas has brought unquantifiable amounts of joy and good will to people around the world for years, but if you’re like me, you may be in the mood for a celebration alteration. This Christmas War, take a stand with one of these underdog options, or as I like to call them- the holiday renegades.
When the holiday’s name translation means “to hit each other,” you’re in for a treat. This fun little celebration, which could best be described as a happier, less deadly version of The Purge, is just begging to be imported from Peru. Every year on December 25th, indigenous men, women, and children from the Chumbivilcas Province will dress in outlandish costumes and masks, gather in groups, and proceed to beat the living hell out of each other. What started as a small scale solution to legal conflicts blew up into an annual holiday where people fight their neighbors for fun and past feuds are settled with feet and fists, all in front of their approving, onlooking community. There’s plenty of drinking and dancing to go along with the punching, so if we brought this one to the U.S. I think we’d be ready for it.
Yule is an old holiday centered around the winter solstice, often celebrated today by modern pagan religions. In many ways, Yule and Christmas overlap to the point where they’re almost twinsies. Both are winter holidays with an emphasis on embracing family and friends with gift giving, caroling and feasts. The central difference, as practicing Wiccans will tell you, is that rather than celebrating the birth of Jesus, they celebrate the birth of Cernunnos, the great horned hunter god. Down to trade in the church for the coven? This one’s for you. But children be warned; if you think you’re too cool for Yule, you better watch out. Some believe the horned god is Krampus, a sort of a Santa-style beast with a naughty side of his own, who punishes those who misbehave. And I’m not talking coal in the stocking…
Reason’s greetings! Some of you out there completely abstain from holiday celebrations, especially if its religiously affiliated. There could be many explanations for this with none greater than your utter lack of belief in a god. Well for atheists, and anyone who happens to gravitate toward scientific thought, there is a holiday for you. Newtonmas was coined by brainiac community The Skeptic’s Society back in the ’90s, and marks the birthday of famed philosopher and scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who was actually born on December 25th in 1642. Although it started as somewhat of a rebellious joke, Newtonmas stuck around as a celebration of logic and reason, so invite over some of your most thought-provoking loved ones and bob for apples as you exchange Newtonian theories!
The official holiday for the rest of us, who perhaps don’t know what to believe or not to believe. But if you’ve got a celebratory gap to be filled, what better to fill it than a made up holiday featured on an episode of Seinfeld from 1997? While Festivus existed in limited capacity before the episode, Seinfeld exposed it to the masses. It’s somewhat of an anti-Christmas, taking a stance against the heavy commercialism and consumerism that can often overshadow the holiday season. Customary traditions include the undecorated Festivus pole, the Festivus dinner where guests can openly complain about one another, followed by the head of the house challenging a guest to a wrestling match. Despite being openly absurd, some consider Festivus to be the ultimate secular holiday. Remember- no gifts!