It came with all the usual nonsense about 'politically correct Grinches' and the 'War on Christmas':
"The War on Christmas is over, and likes of Winterval, Winter Lights and Luminous deserve to be in the dustbin of history."
Mr Pickles explained that the Christian festival has previously been ambushed by those intent on re-branding Christmas as a bland 'Winter festival', insisting that multi-cultural Britain can enjoy Christmas without abandoning its underlying Christian heritage in a misguided attempt to appease these politically correct 'Grinches'.
Ah, Winterval. Not even December and it's time for Winterval stories.
Although Paul Dacre has claimed that the Mail never does churnalism, 'Daily Mail Reporter' quickly bashed out a story, which involved copying-and-pasting all the quotes from Pickles.
And the Mail then stuck this headline on the story:
Winterval was, of course, 'ditched' in 1998-9 - which was the second and last time Birmingham council used it.
It did point out that:
the Winterval festival of the 1990s...combined secular and inter-faith religious elements
which is at least some progress from the usual 'Christmas renamed as Winterval' myth - the myth that appeared in Emma Wall's article in the Star:
A clutch of councils have cancelled Christmas and replaced it with multicultural holidays in a bid to be right-on.
Changes have included banning carols and even rebranding the celebrations “Winterval”.
Wall doesn't provide the name of one council that has actually 'cancelled Christmas'. And she has form on this - when the tabloids leapt on remarks made by the Pope during his visit to the UK in September, Wall wrote:
Speaking to a packed Westminster Hall in London, he urged people to turn their backs on the use of words like “Winterval” to describe the festival of Jesus’s birth.
Once again, she didn't name any person who had done this.
Over in the Express, there was lots of hyperbole about Christmas being 'saved' from the 'PC Brigade' and a 'major victory for common sense'. But hack Martyn Brown was also being less than truthful when he referred to:
Birmingham’s annual Winterval festival
That's 'annual' in the sense that it happened in 1997-8 and 1998-9 but not before or since.
Brown also said:
Town halls were last night ordered to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way
But Pickles' statement was 'urging', not 'ordering' (albeit 'urging' councils to stop using some terms that haven't been used for over a decade anyway).
In the Sun, Clodagh Hartley claimed Pickles had:
said the politically correct days of calling December 25 a "Winter Festival" must end.
That's not quite what he had said (he made no reference to Christmas Day) - and Hartley doesn't mention which council has renamed Christmas Day 'Winter Festival'.
The tone of the coverage, and the majority of the comments that have followed each article, are in praise of Pickles. The 'War on Christmas' myth lives on.
As Anton Vowl says:
...you can't put things in the dustbin of history if they didn't really exist. Say it once, say it a million times, but Winterval wasn't a way of taking Christianity out of Christmas. Say it loud, say it long, say it dressed as a Christmas turkey with a giant Nativity scene stuffed up your jacksy; it doesn't matter...
It's depressing. No-one's trying to ban Christmas, for fear of offending minorities, or anything like that. Must we go through this every single year? Oh, we must. 'Christmas is banned' is as much of a Christmas tradition as granny falling asleep in front of Where Eagles Dare after scoffing the Milk Tray, it seems.