Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winterval (again)

Yesterday, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles issued a press release entitled 'Councils should take pride in Christmas celebrations.'

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: 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.


  1. I did wonder whether now that Labour weren't in power any longer, that we'd seen the last of the Winterval stories. Seems I was wrong. Thoroughly depressing. Does Pickles really believe this stuff? Surely not.

    One comment on the DM...

    Well done Eric! It's time the looney-left and it's commie councils are told the facts of life. We, the English, the largest majority in this kingdom have been Christian and had a Christian culture for over a thousand years! We want to celebrate and see our towns celebrate Christmas. Send the PC brigade packing - new labour and communist councils are dead!
    - David HW, East Grinstead, England!,

    I really do despair over some people...

  2. Town halls were last night ordered to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way

    It's political correctness gone mad! Although, we could celebrate a traditional Scottish Christmas, which was banned by the church for 400 years.

  3. I sometimes wish councils would ban Christmas until at least December 1st. The way it has become a 2-3 month long event is awful!

  4. God are they still going on about winterval and christmas being banned in brum ok journos go to the German christmas market in Brum and look at the big massive christmas tree.

    Pickles is an idiot anyway so yeah he would believe it

  5. Well I for one would like to wish a joyous Winterval to everyone ehre.

  6. Ahh Christmas that Holy of Holy festivals...a wonderful mish-mash of pagan rituals and Christian mumbo-jumbo overlaid with months of consumer overkill.

    Perhaps since this Govt. apparently "does God" (they do seem to mean that) they should order (urge?) all stores and advertising to have a clear and precise Christian message (Goddamnit!) just so everybody gets it.

  7. I'd like to know how celebrating Christmas the "traditional way" means holding over the top, expensive ceremonies to switch on some lights and mass commercialism in high street chain stores. Surely, if Pickles wants to urge councils to be "traditional" then they should abandon all that stuff and focus on the minor religious celebration it would otherwise be.

    Although the press and it seems cabinet ministers are so far removed from reality that should that ever happen they would still moan about christmas being banned by councils...

  8. "Town halls were last night ordered to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way"
    Great. I'll be very glad to see the back of all this absurd consumer spending and get back to singing carols and family gatherings.
    I've grown very weary of spending large amounts of money on presents that people don't actually want whilst racking my brains trying to think of things I don't want for them to buy me!

  9. I really do wonder what planet Pickles lives on at times. If any councils fail to spend money on lights and Christmas trees this year the main reason will be that they can't afford to because they have seen their budgets slashed by central government.

  10. It's a truly stunning feat of the human brain that we can keep buying presents, wrapping paper, cards, Christmas trees, Christmas pudding, mince pies, festive stamps and other seasonal tat, sing Christmas carols, go to church for Christmas services, wish people a Merry Christmas, go out for Christmas meals, put up Christmas decorations, play Christmas songs and even download Christmas-themed DLC for our video games (deep breath)

    and still manage to believe, with complete sincerity, that there an attack on Christmas.

    Also I'm slightly confused by their stance here; their cure for being supposedly banned from celebrating a festival in a particular way is to... force us to celebrate it a particular way?

  11. This is another master stroke by the government. They have spent every day of their term so far making a new "dress down Friday" rule. Not actually doing anything or giving us anything but make us think that the equivalent of letting us wear our own clothes one day each week is a huge bonus. It really is just smoke and mirrors. Plus the pagans have been on the phone and welcome Pickles offer to go back to basics.

  12. Of course, we mustn't forget that Mr Pickles represents Brentwood, home of the Peniel Pentecostal Church: several hundred militant Christians who can sometimes act as one if the fancy takes them!

  13. Well of course Pickles is still re-cycling this nonsense because all his Daily Mail reading base think its actually out there and we all know they set Tory policy anyway.

    They are all sitting there this morning thinking that the Tories have got rid of that terrible Nanny-State, Leftie-Pinko PC Labour policy.

    Next step, "Now how do we get our Empire back?"

  14. Hope they don't get hold of this. OMG end of days

  15. Quite evident that not a single one of the reporters has done any real research into their stories. It's pretty hard to not notice the massive "MERRY CHRISTMAS" sign lit up in right in the middle of Birmingham currently.

  16. Why are the Christians so up in arms? It isn't originally their holiday anyway. Some rebranded it from older pre-Christian holidays. Not even all Christians celebrate it on the 25th.
    Ah, I see, doth protest too much. It isn't theirs so they have to strongly lay claim.


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