Sunday, November 26, 2006

Decorations Gone Awry

I somehow managed to keep the idea of Christmas at bay until Thanksgiving evening, driving home from friends and noticing all the houses and stores already twinkling with lights.

I was reminded of a trip several years ago in early December to Asia. Places like Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong make us look like decorating pikers. In these largely non-Christian settings, Christmas has been appropriated on a wildly embellished secular level as a time for giving gifts.

The sides of skyscrapers are even decorated - so there in tempratures approaching 100 degrees are skyscrapers with brightly lit snowflakes cascading down 60 or 70 floors of external metal. Or in front of a fancy hotel will stand a 30 foot inflatable snowman. Or two.

There are no nativities.

It is mind jarring to the average Westerner, but it's hugely inappropriate symbolism makes sense given the merchantile nature of the event. My favorite display was a skyscraper in Hong Kong that had a light-adornment on its side that must have taken up 30 or 40 stories. It was a bunch of holly leaves and berries. But because they didn't know the plant, they got it backwards. It had red leaves and green berries.

This is what happens when we suck the content away from the form -- we just look extravagant and silly. It made me sad.


Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

wisdom personified as usual...'content away from the form' hmmm, i like that

8:11 AM  
Blogger toujoursdan said...

It reminds me of the year I lived in New Zealand and went to Newcastle Australia over Christmas to visit friends.

Eastern Australia was having one of its miserable heatwaves and it was 40C/104F outside. But when I walked into the mall, everything was decorated with fake snow, sleds, snowmen, Santa Claus in a heavy wool coat and the music on the speakers was "Winter Wonderland" and "Chestnuts roasting over an Open Fire".

I wanted to find some Southern Hemisphere Christmas cards to send home but everything had winter motifs. I finally gave up.

Very jarring indeed.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Evelyn said...

It's days like this that I (almost) wish I had my own blog. I've been shopping, looking for an outdoor Nativity scene. I have looked and looked, and the only one I found was a 5-foot long gaudy holographic version. That's not my idea of a Nativity scene. I'll keep looking.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Maggie Rose said...

red leaves with green berries

whoa. indeed separating content from form

there is no way I could have known this other than your blogging about it, Mata. I am appreciative.


4:38 PM  

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