It seems like people can always find something to fight about, even at Christmas time. I guess that’s why most lawyers love January so much. After a week or so of full-on festivity, soaking up the ho-ho-ho’s in the sweltering summer sun, cooped up with the ever-loving spouse and those dear sweet visiting in-laws, eating too much, drinking too much, staying up too late and waking up too early, if folk can’t find a good reason to consult a lawyer first thing in the new year, chances are they never will.

This week people got to fighting about just how much treetops glistening, children listening and jingling sleigh bells on the snow is altogether more than anyone can bear. Apparently it all started when some ever-so-sensitive school administrator decided non-Christian families might be somehow outraged to have their children assailed by the singing of traditional Christmas carols in the schoolyard. So, in the spirit of goodwill to all mankind, the suburban Brisbane state school grinches reportedly re-wrote the lyrics of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” with the words “we wish you a happy holiday”. It only took one offended grandparent to report the travesty to that highest of all authorities, Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley’s 2GB radio show, before the apprehended outrage of non-Christian families was quickly subsumed by an angry outpouring of righteous pro-Christmas fervour.

Mr Hadley blamed “left-wing teachers”, declaring “It’s insulting, it’s demeaning and it’s a farce.” Even the honourable federal Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton weighed in, calling on all Australians to “rise up” to defend Christmas against what he labelled “political correctness gone mad.”

Of course it’s not the first time the celebration of Christmas has proved controversial, even in predominantly Christian countries. Many of our traditional Christmas customs are suspiciously reminiscent of the pagan Scandinavian and Germanic celebration of Yule, and 25 December was originally a pagan holiday celebrating the Roman god Sol Invictus, along with various other gods associated with the winter solstice.

No doubt it was the very thought of all that pagan hedonism that so upset the Christian Puritans during the English Interregnum. In 1647, a Puritan-led English Parliament actually banned the celebration of Christmas altogether, labeling it an immoral papist festival with no biblical justification whatsoever. One can only wonder what 2GB’s callers would have had to say about all that if they had the chance.

Fortunately, just as our federal Immigration Minister no doubt would have urged, the pro-Christmasers rose up indignantly, rioting in the streets, donning their gay apparel, trolling the ancient Yuletide carols, and wantonly decking their halls with boughs of holly. The scandalous uprising raged on until 1660 when King Charles II finally ended the ban and restored order to the Emerald Isle, heralding the return of old Father Christmas, roast apples on the fire, dancing with plow-boys and maid-servants, and the gay singing of Yuletide carols. Mr Hadley would have been ecstatic.

On 25 December many Australians will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, as a joyous, holy event marked by church services and nativity scenes. Others will sing secular songs and decorate their homes with Christmas lights that simply wish their neighbours “Season’s Greetings”, “Happy Holidays” and a “Merry Festive Season.” For others still, Christmas will be a tradition less-familiar, but just as inclusive and accepting, celebrated as a happy break from work, a time to relax and rejoice in family and friends. Hopefully, regardless of our origin, ethnicity and traditions, all of us will celebrate universal peace on earth, and goodwill to all mankind.

The team at Nyst Legal wish you a very Merry Christmas,
and a happy and prosperous 2017.

Chris Nyst, Novelist, Film Maker and Gold Coast Lawyer.

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