Gah! They've gorn and done it again. Another year, another made up nonsense story about axing Christmas when it hasn't been axed hits the papers. This year's wheeze involves a Council having a winter festival some time around Christmas that isn't called Christmas and doesn't actually replace Christmas - and a paper screaming that Christmas has been axed.
The villian in this pantomime is Oxford City Council.
This year, it's having a festival called WinterLight.
The hero is the Daily Mail.
no, hang on - it's not the Mail. It must be the Sun
no - it's not the Sun either. It's, um, the Express?
Nope. It's the Observer.
What the fuck?
What the fuck indeed. 'Christmas is axed in Oxford' is the story. Of course, Christmas hasn't been axed in Oxford. Haven't you been paying attention to any 'Christmas has been banned' stories over the last twenty years? Here's what the article claims:
Council leaders in Oxford have decided to ban the word Christmas from this year's festive celebrations to make them more 'inclusive'.The bastards! Further on, it says:
The idea came from the charity Oxford Inspires, which was set up to promote culture in the area.So, what do Oxford Inspires have to say for themselves, Christmas banning bastards that they are? The WinterLight page on their website says:
A dazzling calendar of events for the festive season is taking shape highlighting Christmas light switch-ons, pantomimes and special outdoor events in towns all across the county including Oxford’s WinterLight on Friday 28 November. [Emphasis mine]What's that Skippy? Are you trying to tell us something? The people who have banned the word Christmas have actually used the word Christmas? Why, that would make the whole article look a bit silly, so that can't be true.
Maybe it's not Oxford Inspires that have banned the word 'Christmas', but the council itself. What does their website have to say? Well, there's 'Christmas at Christ Church' on 17 December, and again on 20 December, and there are 'Christmas Arias on Ice' on 21 and 22 December all in the events section. So it would appear that the Council haven't banned the word either. To make matters worse, it seems that Oxford Inspires is a separate body from the council, and even if their WinterLights event completely excised all mention of Christmas, it would have no bearing on what the council did or didn't do for Christmas.
The other important thing about the quote from Oxford Inspires is the date. WinterLight is an event that takes place on 28 November, and:
The event features an evening feast of light, street performance, art, music, science, opera in everyone’s favourite museums, art galleries, theatres and on the streets. Follow the culture trail, stopping off to see late-night exhibitions and one-off shows at each location. Eight museums, galleries and theatres in the city will host live music and themed events whilst offering refreshment and entertainment to visitors into the night from 6pm to 10.30pm.It seems to only last for one evening.
It does, however, kick off a wider arts festival, which according to a Press Officer from Oxford Inspires spans two months. The paper quotes that without saying what two months are covered and when the festival ends. The Oxford Inspires website shows that the Press Officer was kind of over-egging things, as you'd expect from someone trying to promote something. In fact, the arts festival lasts just under a month:
Artistic installations are being created in partnership with the arts development officers of West Oxfordshire, Cherwell and Vale of the White Horse District Councils, project managed by Lois Muddiman for Oxford Inspires. The full programme of events running from 25 November until 22 December will be published on this website and the advent calendar brochure will be distributed around the county in November. [Emphasis mine].So it finishes before Christmas. Which would mean it doesn't replace Christmas. Which would mean this article is a load of shit.
One last thing from the article before we go:
Deputy leader of the council Ed Turner added: 'There's going to be a Christmas tree, and even if the lights are called something else to me they will be Christmas lights.'Aaaargh! Remember that first quote? It said:
Christmas light switch-onsThey're still called bloody Christmas lights! Has the Observer been dabbling in that technique of calling people up for reactions to something it's just made up? Say it ain't so.
Next week in the Obsever - 'Asylum seekers throw the gnawed bones of a swan from the window of their gold-plated BMW - and guess who's paying?', 'New Pinky and Perky should be BANNED, say Muslims' and 'Ban this sick filth! Why the BBC should be SCRAPPED'.
Hat tip: as ever, the MailWatch forums.
It's been picked up by the Mail and Sun in 'Christmas? No, Oxford dumps traditional themes in favour of WinterLight festival' and 'Lighten up! Killjoy council axes Xmas'
The Mail's is a perfect example of how to effectively use the 'Withdrawn!' tactic, with this as the final sentence:
But Ed Turner, deputy leader of Oxford council, said: 'We are not Christmas killers. There's no desire to downgrade its importance or prominence - there's still going to be a Christmas tree.'Well done, the Observer! You've kicked off some tabloid outrage with your made up old bollocks! Hurrah!
Thanks very much to Eric the Fish in the comments for pointing out that Oxfrod Council now has a statement on its website, which says:
"Oxford City Council has not 'banned Christmas' and has not banned the use of the word 'Christmas'. The Council has not even considered doing either of these.
"Oxford City Council will celebrate Christmas 2008 in the same way as it has celebrated all previous Christmases: we will have Christmas trees in the Town Hall and in Broad Street, the Lord Mayor will host a Christmas reception for community workers and will hold the annual Christmas Carols event, and we will be sending out Christmas cards.