Private military contractors in the War on Christmas that we are, we have some advice for Bill O’Reilly: you’re drawing the line in the sand all wrong. Turns out you can take the Christ out of Christmas—hell, you can take the Christmas out of Christmas—and exactly nothing will change.
For evidence, we point to 1976 Soviet classic The Irony of Fate, which is, by all appearances, a Christmas movie, yet it takes place on New Year’s Eve in 1970s Leningrad and Moscow, with absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or Santa Claus.
Because Christmas was not a public holiday in the USSR, pretty much every non-religious tradition that we associate with Christmas got lumped into New Year’s Eve; trees, feasts, family, gifts, etc. So here’s a holiday that, by definition, is not Christmas, yet keeps all the components that people enjoy about the holiday season, with no good will to men lost.
The Irony of Fate tells the adorable and bittersweet story of Zhenya, who gets a bit too drunk while celebrating his engagement in the banya with his friends on New Year’s Eve. In this state, he unwittingly ends up on a plane from his home in Moscow to Leningrad. On his way to what he thinks is home, he ends up in the apartment of Nadya, thanks to the Brezhnev-era architecture of identical housing complexes with identical street names (and, in a Secularmas miracle, identical locks and keys). Along the way are laughs, cries, songs, and cuteness.
The Irony of Fate is presented in two 90-minute parts, both streaming for free with English subtitles on the official Mosfilm YouTube channel. Who knows, you may end up with a new holiday tradition. Your move, Bill.