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The Metalhead and Christmas Dilemma

I admit I’ve had a weird relationship with Christmas. On one side, this christian-capitalist-modern festival of gifts, food, chants and, if you’re lucky, snow, entices the child inside me to be festive, to be happy, to share happiness and to think about my loved ones. I’m hating every year more how capitalistic it has become and how it is now all about gorging and buying mostly unneeded gifts just to not be considered the one who forgot friend x or uncle y. Bah.

On the other side of me, I’m a metalhead since more than 20 years and there’s a definite side of it that involves pretending to be “evil”, going against the grain, be “alternative” (whatever that means nowadays), and definitely thinking with your own brain. Which promptly reminds me each Christmas how the date of the birth of Jesus is not actually Christmas (more like “we don’t know”), how getting fatter isn’t exactly what I aim for every end of December, how snow outside is rare on Christmas (I’ve lived most of my life in south Italy), how I’m not really up for children chanting love and gospels (you know, metalheads are supposed to burn churches not take part in Holy Masses). When you are constantly raiding the ears of your neighbours during a year and wear goat-worshipping-pendants, Christmas is like the whole world going in the opposite direction as you for a few days. Unsettling.

Christmas isn’t the time that matches the most what being a metalhead means. Not in the least. It’s mostly tolerated, perhaps endured, and exploited for free food from parents and some money to buy concerts’ tickets or albums later (can’t escape capitalism…). The inane influx of relatives coming with, more often than we like to admit, fake smiles on their faces and gifts bought without thinking about the person but about what required the least expense and time on their parts without coming across as cheap bastards, isn’t something I’m looking for each winter. Trveness isn’t in Christmas spirit, at all.

Give me a book, coffee and an Enslaved album and I’m happy to call it a good winter day. Not relatives, childrens’ songs, food to eat until you drop dead and socks from my mother. That’s the anthitesis of a celebration.

Santa mug on books
Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

Yet year after year Christmas is here. No matter if you like it or not, you got to pass through it each year. Whether you like the gifts or not, you got some anyway. If you didn’t, actually you’re more trve than me and have embraced in full the solitude of the cold north in the forests (which is without a doubt a song title of an underground black metal band). Me, I mostly pretend to enjoy the gifts, enjoy the cheesy music, the priests talking on tv, the joy of born Christ and smiling at good old Santa in commercials. A bit I console myself with Christmas-themed metal songs like this classic from King Diamond:

But other than that, it’s a handful of days that simply I let pass, hoping that next Christmas will be as far away in time as humanly possible.

After all, a black-wearing, corpse-masked, long-haired metalhead has truly nothing to do with Christmas. Not that I truly wear the role in my life but you get what I mean. We’re like a blood stain on snow during Christmas. It’s hard to not notice the difference, for either the friends and relatives around us than for ourselves: the atmosphere changes to the positive, to merriment, to hopefulness if not for downright joy. Silliness is increasingly tolerated on Christmas, bad jokes and stupid pictures are more common and I’m out of place with the steel sword in my hand and the fiery gaze over lands to conquer. Nevermind my sword isn’t sharp (nor it has ever been actually). Gifts? I don’t receive gifts, I take them. I wouldn’t be a descendant of the pagans of yore if I willingly submitted my soul to a meek festival of food, smiles and chants. Odin wouldn’t forgive me, you know. Odin is cool, don’t make him sad.

Christmas is difficult

No, as a metalhead Christmas is to endure, fake happiness just to not let others think you can be a menace, and strike after it has passed, when the christian peasants are tired, fat and suffering from all sorts of regrets on what was eaten and spent, other than looking for pills to cure stomach pain. Hit them when they are at their weakest. That’s the trve spirit. If you want to hint at what’s coming, you can incorporate thrash metal in your Christmas lights

That will signal you haven’t given up your freedom and will take it back from the Christmas-lovers folks.

Most christian countries have the hideous tradition of abstaining from all kind of meats on the 24th of December. I mean, really? No feasting on the meat of enemies for a whole day? No eating raw game meat? Unacceptable. I would starve if I followed the rule each day. Yet every year I’m looked at as the spawn of Satan if I propose to eat pork knuckles or even ravioli with beef meat inside. What is the point of it? You all eat all the meat you want for 364 days of the year, happily slaughtering even young pigs, not considering the fishes that are traditionally eaten on Christmas’ Eve instead of meat, in order to respect somebody who was slaughtered 2000 years ago? That’s mental as Ozzy and the bat. It’s the biggest “I’m good for today but I’m free to be whoever I want the rest of the year” of them all. Hypocrites. Besides, fishes bleed too, which is a meager consolation for a metal listener forced to eat lake fishes kept in tiny pools at fisheries for days before Christmas.

Meat cuts
Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

See? Christmas can be bloody and violent. As Christianity, it is the epitome of pretending to act good while instead being as evil as anybody else. Pagans didn’t pretend, that’s why metalheads prefer them. Trveness and all. Better knowing you’re not good and accept it than faking it. Death to the posers was a battle we fought since Bon Jovi was an icon, you know? Shame that Metallica became the posers afterwards while now pretending to be metallers again. Dear James, Lars, Kirk and Robert, what lacks in your recent albums is not the sound of metal but believing in it. End of the digression.

In the end, being true and honest, even if evil, is more akin to a metalhead than anything else. Christmas goes against it, in its religious and commercial spirits. It is an holiday that can be exploited but not lived, deeply, as others. Day of the Deads and New Year’s Eve are easier on the soul of a metal fan. Or, as a mediterranean man, the Saturnalia. Hope those will have soon a revival.

In the true spirit of metal, take what is given, silently pray to Odin and be comforted in knowing that Christmas lasts just a couple of days. Another Christmas will come but there will be plenty of time before it. For now, Happy Yule! 😉

Cover photo by erin walker on Unsplash

Neapolitan programmer, traveller and metalhead who edits the www.papersounds.eu blog.

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