Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Sydney Christmas - Christmas & hypocrisy - Third day

Detail from the St Mary's Cathedral diorama

The Picture of a Nation: the Statistician's Report on the 2006 Census, divides the nation into Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Other Religions and No Religion. In Religion Across the Generations, the Statistician collates data from the most recent census. The religion question is voluntary and 11.2% of the population chose not to respond. The question does not measure the degree of participation or commitment to religion. It was enough that the individual declared themself to be of a specific persuasion.

The secularisation of the Australian population gathers apace. Between 1971 and 2006, the proportion of people who stated ‘No Religion’ increased from 6.7% of the population to 19%. Add that to those who did not respond and 30.2% of the population is covered.

Looking at the statistics that cover my age group (Lucky) and those that cover the age group of my children (X+Y) we find that the older age group is 70% Christian whereas the younger age group is 46% Christian.

Is Christmas just a retail habit?

Together with a tree erected by the City council, the diorama stands in the Cathedral forecourt, Cook+Philip Place

Australian Christmas stamps - 1984, 1985 & 1986

31 comments:

CafebyJW said...

Nice shot as always!

For your question, I don't think so. Christmas is the time for love.

You Got a Posty
My Bangkok Through My Eyes!

altadenahiker said...

Winter solstice was celebrated way before Christmas ever was. I think it's always been a time of year when people want something to warm them up and jolly them along through the dark days until spring.

arabesque said...

mother mary looks very pretty in this foto. ^0^

Tulsa Gentleman said...

Is Christmas Becoming more secular? It's hard to say. Maybe people are just more honest about their religious affiliation, although church attendance is declining I understand.

Is Christmas declining? Again it is hard for me to say. Sue and I are very involved in our Anglican faith community so we see this from the inside out. Candles are lit, carols are sung and we celebrate the birth of Christ this year as we always have. A sagging economy and concern for political correctness may have toned down the secular activity this year, but that is on the commercial side of the holiday.

Certainly Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ, but it is also about Expressing hope and love to family and friends. It is about decorating homes and stores, it is about exchanging greetings, making contact with people we may have neglected during the rest of the year. Sometimes we are a little too caught up in all the gift giving, but the motive is usually a positive one.

So my vote is for a happy Christmas, bigger and brighter than ever. Jesus the birthday boy gave us two very specific commandments; love God and love our neighbors. That works for me.

Serge Cornillet said...

I've appreciated your comments they were all importants and I wish you a Merry Christmas Julie, and we will continue to share our comments and photos after all the festivities.
Bye and see you soon,
Serge

Lois said...

Those are beautiful pictures as always Julie! To answer your question--I prefer to hope that Christmas is not just a retail habit, but it's hard to not think that when one turns on the television or goes to the store this time of year.

lizziviggi said...

You pose an interesting question. My opinion is that you don't have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas. I think the younger generation, while turning away from traditional religion, celebrates Christmas as not a religious holiday, but a holiday that celebrates family, friends, and the love we share. I can understand why it might be considered hypocritical to celebrate a holiday that honors the birth of a god you don't believe in, but the beauty of Christmas is its historical flexibility to be about what people want it to be.

Of course, if people want it to be about really good deals on flat-screen TV's, I find that very sad.

J said...

I don't think it's hypocritical to celebrate Christmas if you're not a Christian - particularly as in the Western world you're often not given much of a choice! (Speaking as a non-Christian who isn't really interested in celebrating Christmas, I've attened a Christmas party, wished people well for the holidays, and will be exchanging small gifts with family members.) I've known Muslim, Sikhs and Jews who will give and recieve cards and join in festive parties - it's part of the culture and totally avoiding it would be unnecessarily rude.

Also, it's kind of fun, and I think that in parts of the world where it's winter right now you need something in December to cheer you up and remind you that the light is on it's way back. In China, where Christianity is hardly a major religion, Christmas decorations and trees appear in mid December and stay until the Spring Festival in December and January.

Personally, I think the world would be a lot better place if more people could celebrate the festivals of religions not their own!

J said...

Eeep, that should be Spring Festival in February and January!

Jo said...

Beautiful images, Julie. Yours always delights. Believe it or not, I have my three small grandchildren and my son and daughter-in-law staying with me this year and nope, we're not celebrating Christmas. Not in any way: no gifts, turkey, decorations, lights. I have other family in town and they will celebrate as usual with their extended families but respect me for my decision not to. My husband lives and works in the Sudan (a Muslim country with NO Christian celebrations) so he will not do anything special on Friday either. I wish you a time of togetherness and peace with your loved ones, however you may choose to celebrate this time of the year. Bless you. Jo

Rinkly Rimes said...

I have been an agnostic most of my thinking life but I celebrate Xmas as a purely secular Family Festival. I respect the Christian Tradition (as a tradition) and I hate to see it vulgarised as it is in so many ways these days. And the commercialism is awful, However, it helps the economy so.......

freefalling said...

Eh - don't get me started on Christmas - I'll go on and on and on.

(Have you been over to Stuart's at Richmond?)

J Bar said...

Great night time shot of the cathedral, tree and nativity scene, Julie. You always give us a plenty to ponder. Merry Christmas...or not. :)
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Ann said...

Ah Christmas. Festival of consumerism. That's another tree I haven't visited and its just down the road. Keep forgetting.

cara said...

I'm with J and lizziviggi on this one. I'm not religious in any way but I love that it makes you remember those close to you and I really look forward to the time spent with my family and friends... and...yes I admit I love the present bit. Santa, the tree, the songs... it's all magical whether you are a Christian or not.

Also I love old churches and cathedrals... that doesn't make me a hypocrite either I hope! Nice shot!

Kris said...

It’s that time of year again! I’m doing the rounds and apologising for my complete failure to more regularly offer comment on everybody’s incredible efforts for the year. I know how hard it can be to keep up with the daily grind of everyday posting, and want to thank you for your efforts.

I especially want to wish festive greetings for all from down here at [nearly] the end of the world, the bottom of Tasmania.

So, if you could delete whatever is not applicable, I’d like to wish you a very pleasant/merry/happy/wonderful/safe Amaterasu; Ashurall; Beiwe; Choimus; Christmas; Dazh Boh; Dongzhi; Goru; Hanukkah; Hogmanay; Junkanoo; Karachun; Koleda; Lenæa; Meán Geimhridh; Modranicht; New Years; Ras as-Sana; Rozhanitsa Feast; Şeva Zistanê; shōgatsu; Summer Solstice [if you're in the Southern Hemisphere]; Sviatki; Winter solstice [if you're in the Northern Hemisphere]; Yalda; Yule-tide; Ziemassvētki; and Коляда!

With a hearty three cheers from Kris, Jen, Henry and Ezra!

Julie said...

Many of you remind me of myself.

I have a religious sensibility. What I mean by that is that I respond emotionally to the trappings of religion: the garb, the ceremony, the buildings, the music and the social traditions. However, intellectually I am not able to come to terms with the central tenets of thought, especially about Transubstantiation, the Trinity and the Resurrection. I fail the test of "faith" even though I grew up as an active member of the Anglican communion and at 18 converted to Catholicism.

Does this make me a pharisee or a hypocrite more generally? Given that I have declared where I stand, I think not. A bit like having one's cake and eating it, too.

Alex said...

Great pics, Julie. I've just been having fun working through your 'twelve days' - a nice conceit - and particularly appreciating your selection of appropriate song and poetry. All very nicely done in Sydney, I must say - reminds me of Namesti Miru, that square, and we too have a 'diorama', which you'll see on my blog on Christmas Eve :)

Julie said...

I had considered keeping this post until Christmas Eve, too, but I have another hobby horse that I wish to let loose then!

Birdman said...

Very interesting post. Oh, your images go so well with your text. Enjoyed it!

ρομπερτ said...

As in the end we are all made of the same, assume that Christmas is timeless as well as unable to be bought, at least I hope so.
Please have you a wonderful Christmas.

diane said...

The light is beautiful in that shot. Your words and comments are very interesting to read.
I am not religious but I don't begrudge others having a faith. I also enjoy the Christmas celebrations. I particularly like family gatherings and Christmas Carols also gift giving as long as it is not over the top. I don't like the commercialism but I guess it is part of our society now. What I find difficult to come to terms with is the idea that Christmas needs to be white.In Australia we can still get in the spirit without trying to mimic the traditional English or Northern hemisphere where snow and hot dinners are part of the festivities. I don't know a lot of history but I assume this idea of a cold snowy celebration might come from the times of the winter solstice celebration. I doubt Jesus was born in winter as the shepherds were in the fields with the animals and that doesn't happen in the snow. I don't even know if it snows in Bethlehem. So when it all boils down what are we really celebrating?

Lachezar said...

Your Christmas series of posts are pure magic.
Julie, please accept my warmest wishes for this Festive Season and a Very Happy New Year for you, family and friends!

Jilly said...

You pose fascinating questions here. Apart, from the religious points you raise, Christmas would seem to be a time for family and as we know the idea of family seems to have fallen about its ears in many places. Perhaps that's part of the problem - religion and family go together? Your photo is just beautiful - as always.

Julie, thank you so much for alerting me to Chuckeroon's fall.

Olivier said...

la premiere photo est MAGNIFIQUE, on dirait une peinture, superbe

Vogon Poet said...

Everyone has his own way with Christmas and it's a good thing than we can choose. Many around the world can't...

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

very nice starue with a wonderfull meaning:0)

Meery Christmas from JoAnn/Holland

brattcat said...

Excellent post, Julie. In our home Christmas has nothing to do with religion. If the gathering of loved ones for a few precious moments is a habit, it is, for us, a very fine habit to have.

Virginia said...

I can only speak for myself Julie. For me Christmas is a holy day that I will celebrate at my church on Christmas Eve and with family on Christmas Day.
V

JM said...

Great post, Julie! If I was Australian I would be included in the 19%.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I love Christmas!! We give ourselves something expensive we've been wanting but can't justify so yes I do the consumer thing. I'm a Christian so buy in wholly to the mystery of God's awesome gift to mankind. The summer weather, the lights, the anticipation, reconnecting with friends and family all make for a wonderful season of celebration.

The lights and cathedral here capture the spirit of Christmas perfectly.

I notice the stamps took another huge price hike in 1984 .. they are the same price today ... we must be due for an increase.