'Winterval' myth still going strong on Catholic Online

 by Martin Belam, 25 November 2009

This is a bit of a shame. I spotted a story on the Catholic Online website, which opened with the statement:

"Birmingham City Council has changed the name of this year's light-switching-on event to the generic 'Winterval'." [My emphasis]

I left a comment pointing out that if you visit the Birmingham City Council website - yes, that website - you'll see a massive banner advert for Christmas in the city. In fact, you can even go to birmingham.gov.uk/christmas for an aggregated list of Christmas events the council are supporting. Birmingham is not having 'Winterval' this year.


It looks as if, like those signing petitions against it, Catholic Online has fallen for the Winterval myth, which has its origins in a marketing campaign from 10 years ago.

Although they've now removed the opening pullquote about Winterval, leaving the claim buried in the text, sadly it seems my comment remains unpublished a week later. Maybe I fell foul of their online community rules? [1]

"Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, antisocial behavior such as "spamming" and "trolling," or other inappropriate comments or material will not be posted on Catholic Online. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our terms of service. While Catholic Online invites robust discussion, we maintain the right to not print material that is patently false in its claims concerning the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, overtly anti-Catholic or which, in the opinion of the moderator, are intended to mislead readers as to what the Catholic Church teaches. Comments DO NOT necessarily reflect the opinion or views of Catholic Online."

Since they don't like to publish things which are 'patently false' or 'intended to mislead', I was thinking that they would welcome my helpful factual correction. What ever happened to "I am the Truth"? [2]


If they don't publish things which are patently false, I presume their entire site is just a blank page?

There is no end of potential jokes about them regularly falling for myths, but I did at least try and stay polite in my comment. Here, on the other hand, it can be an entirely different matter...

Haha, good point Ian. There would be a huge argument if a big city actually did try to use a name like Winterval instead of Christmas. It would be silly to do so. Regardless if you're catholic or religious at all, most of us still do celebrate Christmas in one way or another.

To be fair, it's not just Catholic Online that's perpetuating this myth. It extends to desperate nationalist parties, the press and anyone with an anti-PC axe to grind.

It might well be that there are certain agendas and mindsets that are trying to manipulate public opinion, but whatever they are, they must be backed up with the truth.

Catholic Online seems to have not bothered with this vital virtue.

They aren't the only Christian news outlet pushing wrong stories about Christmas being abolished.

Christian Today has also claimed that Dundee Council removed references to Christmas when in fact it had 175 mentions of it.


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