Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Garth Rattray | Don't celebrate 'Krissmuss'

Published:Monday | December 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Yes, yes, I know. I know that Yeshua was not born this time of the year. I know that the celebration of His birth was aligned with (piggy-backed on) a well-known pagan holiday because it was convenient. I know that several religious denominations rebuke any celebration of His birth. But, I also know that many people celebrate it anyway because they focus on the message of the greatest gift this world has ever known - the gift of the Messiah, the Rescuer, the Deliverer, the Saviour.

I also know that the real message of Christmas has, for the most part, been drowned out by the cacophonous din of the shopping frenzy. It's a shame, but commercialisation and Santa Claus are being worshiped and celebrated much more than Yeshua. Many businesses only make a profit this time of the year. Some literally hibernate until the festive season and then they open their doors to crazed shoppers. It's as if we must obey the compulsion to buy and buy and party and frolic and be happy, even when we can't afford to buy anything, and even when there's nothing to be happy about.

Consequently, I've decided to call the silly season 'Krissmuss' to highlight 'kriss' (the Jamaican vernacular for new things), that have substituted Christ and, 'muss' (Jamaican vernacular for 'must') for the pressure to participate in the madness during this season. It's as if choosing to align the blessed event with a pagan one has reaped unpleasant consequences.

Many years ago, there used to be a lot more religion at Christmas time. Sure, people were shopping, there were parties and merrymaking, but it was not as commercialised as it is today. And, we could go carolling without fear, there were celebratory firecrackers, free parties and staying out all hours of the night with friends. Now, thanks to widespread criminality, firecrackers have been banned and staying out late is very risky. Throughout all of that, places of worship remained the focal points of the season, not the shopping malls.


Forced to participate


The relentless pressure from advertisers of merchandise, events, food, hang-outs, getaways and media programming can be daunting. They encourage children to want things and instil in parents a feeling that they must buy them. They surreptitiously, almost subliminally, link romance, affection, caring, responsibility and even happiness with the buying of new things and the giving of gifts. There exists a real concern that some loved ones will perceive you as uncaring if there isn't some sort of gift at Krissmuss time. People feel forced to participate in the shopping fever at their financial peril.

Although the current economic crunch has delivered serious blows to former seasonal parties with Grinch-like fury, many persist, albeit in a subdued manner. People still drink way too much alcohol in a futile effort to realise an expected but elusive bliss. They are duped into believing that the treasure of happiness is somewhere out there among the maddening crowds, while all the time it is buried quietly within. Noisy partying, extravagance and mundanity have usurped quiet introspection, meditation and prayer.


Holiday depression


Quite a number of people become depressed over the holidays. Sometimes their sadness is brought on by their inability to shop and to pay for new clothes and to go to parties. Sometimes they aren't able to give their family and friends the gifts that they expect. Sometimes people remember and sorely miss their dearly departed loved ones during this festive season. They wish that they were still around to celebrate with them, and the staged atmosphere of mirth and merriment only serves to mock their sadness and emotional pain.

Sometimes people are stinging from a broken romantic relationship. Sometimes they are reflecting on their lack of accomplishments as they watch others laughing and grinning and exuding happiness. Some become desperate to join in and commit criminal acts, to the detriment of the entire country. Sometimes people even commit suicide as the tsunami of sadness overwhelms them and drags them under.

The thing is this, no one should celebrate 'Krissmuss', no one should allow themselves to feel forced into economy - driven seasonal profligacies. Celebrate Christmas instead if you want - the true Christmas of giving thanks and praise.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and