Editor’s Note: This post originally ran on December 22, 2017
Whether you believe the Christmas tradition is rooted in the pagan holiday Saturnalia, a baby born in swaddling clothing or shamans getting high on magic mushrooms (yes, it is a thing), we can all agree that Christmas has become more than a simple religious remembrance and has evolved into a cultural ritual. Because of this, there are stark differences between black America’s celebration of the season and the rest of the country’s.
We decided to walk you through some of these cultural disparities just in case you couldn’t recognize the holiday being supported on the black side of town.
The Christmas Season
When it comes to Black Christmas, the holiday begins much later than the traditional Caucasian season. The white Christmas season begins immediately after the Dallas Cowboys lose on Thanksgiving Day. They barely give their turkeys time to digest before they wander to the mall to get their asses kicked in the Black Friday mixed martial arts tournament to buy discounted gifts for their loved ones.
This is not to say that black people don’t wade into the Black Friday morass, because as a culture, we have been taught to value a good sale. But the reason black people always win the Walmart kickboxing matches over dirt-cheap flat-screen televisions is partly that—unlike our unseasoned shopping counterparts—we aren’t purchasing those presents for our loved ones. That’s our 47-inch plasma! Y’all don’t have enough invested in the fight!
In fact, according to a 2017 Gallup Poll that was never conducted, 22 percent of all Christmas traffic is black people taking advantage of holiday sales for their own benefit. Black Christmas shoppers purchase most of their gifts during a little-known holiday called “Christmas-Bonus Paycheck Day.” This is when we start decking the halls with boughs of Holly, because this is when the true Christmas season begins.
(Also, we don’t know exactly who “Holly” is or why she’s hanging out in our hallway. But if she’s thinking about stealing our brand-new 47-inch, she will get decked!)
While you might think it is a shame that black people celebrate Noel on C.P. Time, you should also be aware that the Black Christmas season traditionally extends past Christmas Day. This, again, is because of sale-related issues, which can be explained by the next part of Black Christmas: presents.
Black Christmas is a very present-centric holiday. After all, logic would dictate that the best way to commemorate the birth of a child sent to teach the world that joy, peace and happiness are found within is through the receiving of presents.
Black people eschew all that gobbledygook about the charity and the joy of giving. That’s white-people nonsense. Christmas is about the joy of receiving ... which brings us back to the Christmas season.
The gift-giving part of Black Christmas lasts until well after Dec. 25. Most black children expect to unwrap the lesser presents on Christmas morning, but the real gifts come when their parents hit the after-Christmas sales.
Or the New Year’s Day sales.
Or—in some cases—Christmas-gift receiving extends into a bigger and more substantial black holiday when black parents receive their de facto reparations for working all year, in a holiday tradition called “tax time.”
On Christmas morning, there will be black children all across America playing with remote-controlled cars with no batteries and staring at bicycles with no wheels. They won’t be disappointed because they know they will receive the D batteries and bicycle tires sometime between Christmas Day and April 15.
Santa Claus is one of the hallmarks of white Christmas. White kids believe in old St. Nick until they are 22 or 23 years old. Black children, on the other hand, have about 16-17 minutes of wondrous folly before they realize that the idea of a benevolent white man bringing joy to their lives is highly questionable.
This is because white people are much better at accepting bullshit than their Negro counterparts. As soon as a black kid can talk, he or she has too many questions that can’t be answered by the Santa fairy tale, such as:
- How did Santa get in our third-story apartment when we don’t have a chimney, Mommy? Shouldn’t you be looking for a new alarm system?
- So he landed on the roof with 12 reindeer, and the pit bull next door didn’t even notice?
- Why did he eat the cookies when Grandma’s sweet potato pie was right there?
- Don’t you think it’s wrong for elves to make all these toys for free? Isn’t that kinda like slavery? #ElvesLivesMatter.
- Santa Claus ain’t got no D batteries?
This is why black parents always end the charade and let their children know that, like Chicago’s “gang thugs,” All Lives Matter and trickle-down economics, Santa is a figment of the white imagination.
There are no Black Christmas carols. We have Christmas songs. Many of them are simply remixes that put some funk in songs that white people already made because we don’t understand the white carols anyway. Seventy-three percent of black children spent most of their childhoods believing that the seminal song of white Christmas was entitled “Jing-o Bells.” We have no idea who “Hawk the Harold” is, how he became an angel, or why he’s only singing glory to one of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s twins. (Shouldn’t it be “glory to the newborn king and queen?”).
Our Christmas carols often have nothing to do with Jesus. Most of them are about the need for sex and companionship on this glorious day. When all I want for Christmas is you, we soon realize that Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love. After all, what do the lonely do at Christmas? These are the pertinent questions. These songs, however, are just warnings of what can happen if you forget to shake a hand and make a friend.
In fact, “Silent Night” by the Temptations, the greatest Christmas song ever made, is basically a remixed version of a white Christmas carol. As the story goes, one night, the Temptations went into the studio with nothing but a bottle of Crown Royal and a carton of Benson & Hedges and said, “Fuck the lyrics.” What came out was an improvised, nonlinear sermon, soul song, and outright classic about Jesus, Santa Claus and freedom.
As noted in the Caucasian’s Guide to Black Thanksgiving, all holiday dinners are just lesser versions of black cookouts. The Christmas meal is basically the identical menu from Black Thanksgiving with ham replacing the turkey. Don’t get me wrong—there can be a turkey at Christmas, but it is not the Beyoncé of the holiday-food lineup. It is more of a Ciara-like side dish.
Unlike white Christmas, Black Christmas doesn’t include fruitcake or rum cake. Black Christmas is more pie-centric. The sweet potato pie is the headliner, but it is not an after-dinner dessert. It is usually placed on the counter and eaten before, during and after the holidays. The average black household goes through 349 pies, 11 red-velvet cakes and six of those tins of hard-ass Royal Dansk cookies.
These cookies are the biggest Christmas mystery of all. No one knows where they came from or how they got into your house. It’s not like you were thinking all year: “I can’t wait for Christmas so I can chip a tooth on a piece of baked flour sprinkled with granulated sugar!” Yet they are always there.
And you always eat them.
But the worst part of it all is that sometime in April, you will see the same tin, and even though you weren’t craving anything sweet, you’ll open up that tin to eat one again. But it will be filled with sewing needles and thread.
I think Santa Claus is leaving this shit behind as a prank.
The Story of Black Christmas
Finally, you should know that the Christmas story is different in black households. Instead of a beautiful yarn about a blond savior, the following is a summary of what we are celebrating:
A few thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph’s camel broke down in Bethlehem. Because it was Christmastime (I know, but does any of this make sense?), hotel options were limited. Jo-Jo (as we call him) decided to rent an Airbnb, but when they arrived, the discovered that they had reserved a room in a manger.
But Mary was pregnant, so they didn’t make a big deal out of the situation, even when she went into labor. When the child was born, Joseph was a little suspicious that the child didn’t look anything like him, but before he could say anything, three dudes showed up at the barn door with a gold chain, some incense and beard oil (yes, as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Jesus was also born with a #BeardGang membership).
An archangel named Chance the Angel (which is why the similarly named hip-hop star must always specify that he is “the rapper”) announced that the new child will be the Messiah. Joseph was about to Google the definition of the word “Messiah” when one of the wise men said, “That means savior” and everyone cheered.
A few years later, Jesus would be killed by cops after being accused of gangbanging with disciples, making wine without a liquor license and holding a Sermon on the Mount without a rally.
He was unarmed and died with his hands up.