It’s that time of year again for holiday tackiness. It comes in a variety of forms, including (but not limited to) gaudy sweaters and neckties, rotating Christmas trees, dogs barking jingle bells and garish yard decorations as seen on Candlestick Lane in Urbana.
But Christmas is only one of the Christian holy days that has devolved into eye-popping commercialism. Easter also has its share of tackiness with its peeps, colored eggs and giant stuffed bunnies. However, Easter, still in the pastel phase, has yet to graduate to the ostentatious level of Christmas.
This disparity among Christian holy days suggests a possible explanation: Perhaps gaudiness is simply a natural occurrence in holiday evolution and Christmas is just further along than Easter. This theory, however, isn’t supported by the evidence. Easter is actually older than Christmas so, if this Theory of Tacky Holiday Evolution were correct, then Easter should supercede Christmas in obtrusive flashiness.
Plus, it doesn’t explain why tackiness has developed only in Christian holy days.
Now, I confess I am no scholar of world religions so perhaps other more enlightened people can shed some light on this. Why have Christian holy days become so tacky while the holy days of Judaism and Islam have not? Why do Christian holy days have strange, fictional characters such as the Easter Bunny while other religions do not? Why is there no Ramadan Rabbit? Or Hanukah Hippo?
Moses and Mohammed have nothing on Jesus when it comes to the gaudiness of their religions.
Is it simply because Christianity has blossomed in the superficial land of Western capitalism? Or is there something inherently tacky about Christianity itself? Or maybe it’s because Christianity is the religion of choice for the unrefined — the uneducated folks named Bubba who hang velvet Elvis paintings on their walls alongside their talking Big-Mouth Billy Bass.
There does seem to be, at least, an etymological connection. The third Sunday of Advent (the season that precedes Christmas) is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning rejoice and is the same word that gave birth to the English word gaudy.
At some point, however, the fine line separating rejoicing and regurgitating was crossed. I’m not clear on when the line was crossed, but I am sure of where. It was right here in the good old U.S.A., land of the free and home of the nine-foot, illuminated plastic Santa.
The church and the empire are clearly married in this country. Sure, we have separation of church and state, but church and the business empire have gotten into bed together to produce some butt-ugly offspring that we’ll just call the whole Tacky Christmas Decoration Industry.
So my Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters, I am sorry that there really isn’t separation of church and state in this country and that Christianity is the favored religion of capitalism. But be thankful. If all religions were equal here we’d have to look at tacky holiday decorations all year long.