As the years go by, I’ve been less and less enthusiastic about Christmas. I used to love the holiday – time to hang out with my awesome family, sit back and celebrate the successes of the year gone by, and feel like I was part of something bigger than myself. Christmas is meant to be about relaxing, about family and friends and expressing thanks and joy for what you have.
Christmas is no longer about these things, and I’m so over it. I won’t let this post devolve into a “commercialisation of Christmas” rant, but that’s really how I feel. We put ourselves through incredible stress and <> every year just to buy presents out of obligation. The people we care about are now just items on yet another to-do list waiting to be checked off.
The financial strain and forced time-off work when we can least afford it means we can’t relax. We’re travelling great distances to spend time with equally stessed and strained people. We’re attending Church to placate our grandmothers. We’ve no time or inclination to sit back and ponder the year gone by and plan for the next. We’re too busy performing our Christmas obligations to actually attend Christmas.
Christmas is just no fun.
I want Christmas to mean something again. I’m no longer hip to that religious lingo, and I’m finding less and less to agree with about the way the rest of the world celebrates this holiday. But we’re metalheads – we don’t have to do what everybody else does. We’ve NEVER done what everybody else does.
So lets make Christmas the annual heavy metal holiday!
Change all the Christmas words to metal words.
I love how metalheads consider themselves the world’s theasaurus of epic words. Nothing is ever “the BBQ sauce” or “a milkshake”, it’s always “Satan’s fiery hell-meat-juice” or “the grymn, frostbitten milk drink of eternal sorrow”.
So why not, instead of Christmas, we celebrate “anti-Christmas”, and instead of getting a visit from Santa, we welcome into our home “the grymm spectre of Odin, the Old Man of Winter”. Instead of giving presents we give “foil-wrapped gifts of damnation tied with the curly tail of SATAN.” Instead of roasting a turkey or ham or chicken, what about bringing out the “delicious, meaty bounty of Odin”?
Readers, tell me your best metal Christmas names!
Create “anti-christmas” traditions to be proud of
For me personally, I feel modern Christmas traditions are too tied up in Christian beliefs. While I think the Christian celebrations are beautiful, their charity and generosity over this period is admirable, and the Christmas message they preach is one of love and patience and kindness, I don’t personally count myself among my ranks, and nor do many of my metal comrades. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. It just means that a holiday centred around the values and beliefs of one religious means little to the people who don’t subscribe to that religion.
So if the modern Christmas traditions don’t get you excited, try to find or invent some traditions that do. You make something a personal tradition by doing it year after year, by making it part of your perception of the holiday.
Look to your own history. Do you have. Does your family have any traditions you’d like to keep intact? My family always has a huge roast lunch together, followed by an afternoon of playing cards and boardgames together. I love this tradition and CDH and I will keep it going when we have Christmas together ourselves.
Look to your heritage. Whichever ethnic, racial, cultural, or geographical grouping you belong to, you will have inherited a set of holiday traditions. Do some research. Ask your great grandparents. For example, I have some Croatian/Dalmation heritage, so I’ve been researching their traditions and thinking of ways to incorporate these into our Christmas ideas.
As a metalhead, you don’t have to be religious to find some common ground with more pagan beliefs. Christmas, after all, is an amalgamation of several pagan holidays created by the church as a means of more easily converting the hearthern scum. I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how metalhead “ideals” seem to match pagan ideals and beliefs, moreso than any other belief system. As such, pagan traditions resonate with me, especially those surrounding Christmas.
Christmas celebrations occur at the same time as the Winter Solstice, an important date on the pagan / Viking calender. The days are getting longer, and the sun begins to return. This is a time for joy in Scandinavia, because the winter is bloody dark and bitterly cold. Vikings celebrated for many days (usually 12 – hence the 12 days of Christmas) in their typical Viking way: sacrificing wild boar to Freya, then eating said boar with generous lashings of stout Viking brew.
They would make a sunwheel out of straw, set this alight and roll it down a hill. This encouraged the sun to return. A fun activity for the children. Oh hell yes! In honour of the Yule Goat (how metal is that?) young people dressed up in goat skins and danced around the villages, singing and performing in exchange for treats. They would also dress up someone as “Old Man Winter” who would ride around on a white horse and join the festivities. When the Vikings invaded England, Old Man Winter because the english Father Christmas.
Some of these traditions might find their way into your Christmas celebrations.
Decorate your Christmas Tree … with metalhead style
The Vikings would decorate evergreen trees with food and statues of their gods. They would carve runestones and hang these from the tree also, enticing the tree spirits to come back in the spring.
What about enticing the metal gods to return with a tree hung with miniature beer can, runestones and choclate goats? Heavy metal keyrings also look great hanging from the tree. You can pick these up for cheap at festivals throughout the year. I hung our Wacken dog-tags on our tree.
But what about the epic tree-topper? A heavy metal tree couldn’t use an innocent angel. Look for other ornaments throughout the year that might be suitable for a tree so epicly metal. Dragon toys, kiss dolls or zombie figurines adorn metalhead’s trees. My friends use a witch brought back from Germany. We use a funny black and red baubly-thing, until I can get around to making a double-bass drumkit.
Some bands, like the epic Manowar, even sell Christmas tree baubles. Check out thehere.
Make Thoughtful Christmas Presents
I used to think of Christmas presents months in advance, and spend weeks on end handmaking them. Creating unique gifts was my way of making Christmas special. One year I spent a couple of months writing a novel for my then boyfriend. It was an epic tale of a talented musician who accidentally played “the forbidden chord” and found himself lost in Ancient Greece. It was a masterpiece, filled with jokes and heart-wrenching chariot races and gourd-throwing competitions. He thought it was silly. He brought me a DVD – the cheapest one he could find (he knew I wanted one that was $20 dearer). I was gutted. Ever since then, I’ve been wary of putting the usual effort into making Christmas presents.
But I’m reviving the tradition. Although we brought everybody Christmas presents in Europe/Middle East, I’m baking up a storm to bring down some goodies for my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and awesome new nephew to gorge themselves on. And let me tell you, making an almighty mess in the kitchen is a LOT more fun than traipsing around those busy shops.
There are some many things you can make that will brighten Christmas for your family and friends. I have heaps of ideas, so I think I’ll write another post on this topic.
Last year, my friend Andy and I spent a day making chocolate gift boxes. We kept a supply in the cupboard for all those times we needed a gift for someone. Cost us very little in money, a whole day hanging out together having fun, and the people who got the giftboxes were blown away by our creativity. It’s a triple win.
Pass on your own mythology for your Children
Just because their friends or teachers or relatives celebrate Christmas a certian way, doesn’t mean you should change your Christmas traditions so your kids “don’t feel left out”. Children are bright. They understand people think and act and believe differently. They can learn about the nativity scene and make paper angels at school without having to believe in that stuff. They can call Santa “Old Man Winter” and no one will care about the difference. They can wear their baby Slayer shirt to the Christmas pageant and no one will die. Teach your kids the traditions YOU believe matter. They’ll decide the rest for themselves.
Listen to metal Christmas songs, or just metal in general
Metalheads the world over have embraced that ubiquitious “Christmas Spirit” and released Christmas songs and albums. No metalhead could ever forget Twisted Sister’s Christmas album, or that We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year album (with Auld Land Syme sung by Girlschool. Rad). And this year, Rob Halford’s Winter Songs will be stuffed in many a metalhead’s stocking. My all-time metal favorite – Manowar’s “Silent Night” – is available for free online. Finnish death metal band Medeia have released a video for their new holiday single “antichristmas” which I would recommend checking out.
More metal, all the time!
Hail and Kill and Merry Christmas / Yule /