Christ vs Santa Claus

Is it one or the other?

Friday, December 28, 2018

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This is a time of year when dissent about Jesus's birthdate, Christmas and Santa Claus emerge among Christians. Should we abandon Christmas? Boot Santa? No! Some opine this is a white thing and that an event attuned to our 92.1 per cent would be better. But as Jamaicans eat, wear, drive, speak, are housed, governed by things white and love them, and there is nothing African in our lifestyle, this is frivolous as no one is even going back to Africa.

Most Christians love Christmas and Santa. New Christian sects do not mark Christ's birthday, but who cares when a benign fiction may beat back evil in the absence of ultimate fact?

This year Christmas décor and events in major cities of China incurred the wrath of our communist best friends and were scuttled; so too Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses diss Santa and Christmas. They say “Happy Holidays” as they can't bring themselves to say Happy Christmas; yet we wish Jewish colleagues Happy Hannukah! Christmas in King's House, Jamaica House is sparse; no tree or pepper lights; Christian apartheid? Out of many, which one? If you can't play the part don't take the job!

Jesus is a creature of the Levant; born, lived and died a Jew and anchors the Christian faith. This polyglot people were not imperialists or a warrior tribe but worked for great powers, often as slaves. Now they are as one and thrive, we do not! If they did not write their story no one would. The Bible presages Jesus in the Torah and reports his birth, travails, triumphs, crucifixion, and resurrection in the New Testament. He was a carpenter, so why would Imperial Rome record his birth in real time? Even today some find out their real name, birthdate only when they apply to the Registrar General's Department for a certified copy of the document. Who is hurt by this benign fiction? Many kids are helped. His life from age 12 into 30s is a mystery, but He did sojourn in India reasoning with Sadhus. He was likely illiterate, and his exact birthdate is not germane to our celebration. Our white Queen has an actual and official birthdate to fit pomp and ceremony, also seen in our military — so?

The agenda of naysayers is to discredit Christianity as the white man's religion (It is the brown man's from the Middle East) or one-upmanship. I lived among Africans and none told me the faith of our fathers, invited me to worship, or gave me a book of tenets; but they have massive Christian churches and give away bibles. If they don't why should I care about Africa's things, I don't know? When Jesus's real birthdate is known, Christians will be as incandescent with joy just as now on December 25.

Santa Claus is a mythical figure based on a real person. He is portrayed as a benevolent, rotund, bearded white male; mild-mannered, loves kids, and gives gifts at Christmas. We need more like Santa! Men of such hirsute facial florescence are not common in Africa, so his roots in Scandinavia are credible, as from his kit and transport we know the myth was created in a land of snow, reindeer, sleighs, and not the Middle East, like Jesus, but is totally in sync with His values — nuff respect!

I believe in Jesus and Santa, so the cognitive dissonance of my position is patent. Jesus, sired by Spirit, son of an unwed mother who spoke to angels, said her boy was the Messiah — crazy stuff! Santa is more believable! But Jesus is my life choice, and Santa a great imaginary friend. Christmas, Santa moving like FedEx on a sleigh at warp speed is a time-bound, uplifting, convenience. A lie you say, but he gives joy from infancy then by age 10 the aura fades and kids see the reality of parent's sacrifice to buy a toy. Life lesson learnt! When Pops died none of the kids were told until after their last Grade Six Achievement Tests — deceit?

Christmas is happy time; peace and goodwill; singing upbeat anthems in my fearsome nation where life is abzocky and violent death frequent. Christmas makes us smile; even windshield buggers say Merry Christmas. I suspend disbelief, watch happily and excitedly as grandkids open gifts. What's not to like?

They schedule Premier League football (a religion of many) to avoid clash with Christmas Day; am I bothered that devil worshippers of yore did not sync dates of their rites with Christians? No! I also love Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Silent Night, Mary's Boy Child as they transport me from the murderous bustle of my fetid nation to places where kids are safe, enjoy presents and adults die of natural causes. Thank God for Jesus, Christmas and Santa; life would be unbearable without them! Happy New Year!


Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or

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