The Voice of Dissent
George Bernard Shaw
The World, 20th December 1893
An Atrocious Institution.
Like all intelligent people, I greatly dislike Christmas.
It revolts me to see a whole nation refrain from music for weeks together in order that every man may rifle his neighbour's pockets under cover of a ghastly general pretence of festivity. it is really an atrocious institution, this Christmas. We must be gluttonous because it is Christmas. We must be insincerely generous; we must buy things that nobody wants, and give them to people we don't like; we must go to absurd entertainments that make even our little children satirical; we must writhe under venal officiousness from legions of freebooters, all because it is Christmas - that is, because the mass of the population, including the all-powerful middle-class tradesman, depends on a week of licence and brigandage, waste and intemperance, to clear off its outstanding liabilities at the end of the year.
As for me, I shall fly from it all tomorrow or next day, to some remote spot miles from a shop, where nothing worse can befall me than a serenade from a few peasants, or some equally harmless survival of medieval mummery, shyly offered, not advertised, moderate in its expectations, and soon over.
In town there is, for the moment, nothing for me or any honest man to do.
Oh dear, oh dear, secretly - and now not so secretly - and with the exception of his first and last sentence, I agree with much of what the old grump is saying here.
Who has not moaned about Christmas being a bore, a chore, an expensive waste of time, a Kitschfest, an occasion for old family rows being warmed up once again, for uncle Geronimo getting so sozzled that he falls off the chair, for auntie Geronomina bursting into tears at the injustice of it all, at TV programmes being nothing but ancient repeats warmed up for the -nth year, at the kids breaking their expensive toys within hours of getting them, and everybody feeling sick because they've been eating and drinking for most of the day.
Christmas doesn't have to be like that.
It doesn't have to be the corrupt, plasticised, saccharine, artificial creation that has been allowed to smother the real Christmas to which we all reach in our imaginations.
The wonderful Christmas we used to know.