Today being December 25th, it feels very inappropriate to write about anything non-Christmas related, and the ideas I’ve had leading up to this post all seem somewhat out-of-place at this time of the year. Yet nonetheless, I believe I’ve found a way to link the occasion back to the subject of this blog; today I’m asking if Christmas was celebrated in the communist world.
In the Soviet Union, celebration of the holiday was greatly restricted, and it was suppressed as a manifestation of religion. The League of Militant Atheists, an ideological organisation in the country, fuelled the suppression by promoting an anti-religious and anti-Christmas sentiment , and it is perhaps partly due to their efforts that Christmas is still not widely celebrated in Russia today.
The situation is similar in the People’s Republic of China, as the holiday is still not celebrated by many, yet this is less a result of political action as it is of religion; the Chinese Christian population equates to about one percent of the country’s 1.4 billion inhabitants, meaning that few recognise the festival’s religious significance. This is ever more true in the more remote, western regions, where it is likely seen by many as an alien tradition.
Yet despite this, Christmas has increased in popularity throughout China, and whilst suppressed in the Soviet Union, a separate, secular festival on December 31st was celebrated under the socialist regime. This suggests that, irrespective of whatever religious beliefs they may have, humans want to celebrate something this season. In fact, even the modern holiday we call Christmas wasn’t always very Christian; first a week-long Pagan festival concluding on Dec 25, it was adopted by Christians to ‘draw in’ Pagan believers, proving that you don’t need God as an excuse to celebrate..
With this in mind, I wish everyone a merry, secular Christmas Day.