Since I posted my essay on Winterval last year I have been lucky enough to gain some significant coverage for the real truth about the origins of the Winterval myth. In January I was interviewed on the subject for Radio 4′s Face the Facts who dedicated an edition to Islamophobia. However, it was not until November that my essay really had made a real impact in destroying the myth.
Oddly enough, I have Melanie Phillips and the Daily Mail to thank for doing so. More of which later.
For now I will provide a quick run down of the mentions that the Winterval myth has received this year, an updated hall of shame if you will to compliment the original essay.
2011 kicked off with a mention in – funnily enough – the Daily Mail. Steve Doughty and Claire Ellicott showed a real talent for shoehorning drivel onto the page when in an article about the lack of bin collections over Christmas they wrote:
The rubbish gap has been dubbed ‘Binterval’ after the name Winterval, which was first coined by council chiefs as a politically correct replacement for Christmas. 
Full marks for claiming that ‘council chiefs’ firs coined Winterval (they didn’t) as a PC replacement for Christmas (it wasn’t) and also that the lack of bin collection had been ‘dubbed “binterval” (it really hadn’t).
Next up was the Lincolnshire Echo which carried some quotes from the Bishop of Lincoln’s final letter before he stepped down. In the letter the Bishop describes his writings over his time in the role:
“Education has featured prominently, and so have public affairs with the environment, globalisation and the Big Society jostling with tilts at Richard Dawkins, winterval and other sad symptoms of our so-called secular society.
It is fitting that – as the Winterval myth was started by a Bishop – that fellow bishops would still be spreading it 13 years later. As we all know, it was never an attack on the church and was purposely secular in tone to avoid church leaders moaning that Christmas was being stretched beyond breaking point for commercial gain.
Back to the nationals and this time the respectable Times, which featured an article by Rosemary Bennett who made the claim that:
British politeness and respect for others’ feelings conspired with more left-wing notions of shame for the country’s colonial past and a rejection of its traditional values. Schoolchildren performed non-religious Christmas plays and local authorities threw Winterval festivals. 
All fairly standard stuff, until you include the very next line of the article:
Support for some form of multiculturalism might have continued for quite some time were it not for the 7/7 attacks.
One of the most unpleasant claims that the Winterval myth has been linked to in my opinion. Nonetheless The Sun’s vile letter page can always be relied upon to outdo anyone in terms of sheer ignorance. This letter sent in April is just one example:
THE Sun’s Anila Baig states that the best thing about Britain is the freedom of choice and freedom of speech. Yet we have seen our nursery rhymes banned and Christmas and Christmas plays re-named (winterval, nativity plays) and the loss of certain words if they contain the word black.
At the same time Islamic and other ethnic religions are taught in our schools as well as the alphabet in Punjabi.
VINCE DAY Crawley, W Sussex 
A perfect example of how media myths distort public perception and understanding (if, that is, the letter wasn’t a plant written by the newspaper’s own writers).
Back to the locals and this time The Chronicle in Chester provided this rant about ‘diversity’ and ‘political correctness’ by Bob Clough Parker who claims that:
This kind of attitude is all at one with towns that have ‘Winterval’ celebrations, businesses that ban Christmas trees, shopping centres that say No to a Salvation Army Band and schools that decide not to have a Nativity play. 
But one of my favourite ever references to the Winterval myth comes courtesy of James ‘I am quite possibly always wrong about everything’ Delingpole who attacked the rather intelligent comedian Stewart Lee over Lee’s comments about political correctness:
According to Lee, PC just “allows the Right [...] to make people on the Left, who are concerned about the way people are represented, look like killjoys”. Which doesn’t say much for Lee’s powers as an observational comic.
Delingpole, deciding that Lee is completely wrong, then writes a ‘a tiny selection of the myriad ways in which political correctness has extended its tentacles into every aspect of our existence’. Winterval features in this list:
W IS FOR… WINTERVAL
The fake annual festival loved by Left-wing city councils and politically correct officials because it enables them to stoke grievance culture, discourage schools from holding Nativity plays, save money on Christmas decorations, and infuriate Britain’s Anglican majority. In the old days, we used to call it Christmas. 
In an article solely written to disprove Lee’s assertion that the attacks / media coverage of political correctness are deceitful… Delingpole turns to one of the oldest and most famous lies of all.
Anyway, a brief mention by the Telegraph aside, Winterval had a quiet year until September when the Mail on Sunday invented a story that the BBC had tried to ban BC / AD being used by presenters. Not only was the story a bare-faced lie, it also provided the perfect opportunity for lazy columnists to wheel out Winterval again – just in time for the Christmas season as well.
The Sunday Times happily quoted an Honorary Assistant Bishop of Birmingham who ‘compared it to plans by some councils to replace Christmas with Winterval. “It didn’t work and they had to drop the idea”‘. However, this received little attention because The Times merely quoted a reference to the myth (although they failed to correct / challenge it) whereas the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips was happy to use it in her column as evidence of how Christianity is under attack:
The pressure on individual Christians, however, is merely part of a far wider onslaught on Western culture through the hijacking or censorship of language.
Thus Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’. 
For those of you familiar with my regular blog you will know that I emailed her about this and got a couple of abusive responses, whilst someone else contacted the Press Complaints commission.
1 – Doughty, Steve; Ellicott, Claire. Daily Mail [London (UK)] 04 Jan 2011: 10.
2 – Saxbee, John. Lincolnshire Echo [Lincoln (UK)] 04 Jan 2011: 7.
3 – Bennett, Rosemary. The Times [London (UK)] 05 Feb 2011: 3.
4 – The Sun [London (UK)] 18 Apr 2011: 37.
5 – Parker, Bob Clough. The Chronicle [Chester (UK)] 28 Apr 2011: 43.
6 – Delingpole, James. The Sunday Telegraph [London (UK)] 15 May 2011: 20.
7 – Alexander, Lawrence. Sunday Times [London (UK)] 25 Sep 2011: 10.
8 – Phillips, Melanie. Daily Mail [London (UK)] 26 Sep 2011: 14.