Christmas as religion : rethinking Santa, the secular, and by Christopher Deacy

By Christopher Deacy

This paintings develops severe hyperlinks among smooth representations of Christmas and the class of religion.


This paintings develops serious hyperlinks among glossy representations of Christmas and the class of religion. Read more...

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We can contemplate escaping to another country, even climate, for a period, but as Daniel Miller has found, Christmas is no less celebrated in Japan or Trinidad than it is in the West, and even an environment as far removed as one can imagine from the cold, snowy vistas of Lapland—the comparatively tropical heat of Florida, for example, where many British tourists go to flee the bleak mid-winter—is not without the decorative, kitschy, reminders of home in the form of the adornment of Christmas trees, the giving of OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 6/4/2016, SPi 18 Christmas as Religion cards and presents, the singing of carols, the familiar icons everywhere of Santa and his reindeer and of snowmen, and even the serving of the traditional turkey dinner.

Accordingly, Belk sees the tension at Christmas as emanating from the fact that it is ‘at once the greatest religious holy day and the greatest commercial holiday in the Christian world’ (Belk 2001: 75; see also Deacy 2013: 196). But, it is not just a tension between two different types of religious observance—the one spiritual, the other material, as if we are all somehow devotees and celebrants of either one or the other (and as though ‘both’ were not an option). For, at one and the same time for each of us we have the competing tension of wanting to show our affection and to express private sentiment to our friends and family members while the very ‘vehicle of affection’ amounts to ‘a material object, usually a commodity bought in a crowded, garishly decorated store’ (Carrier 2001: 55).

Valentine, yule logs and mistletoe with Christmas’ (Coffin 1973: 82). 6 OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 6/4/2016, SPi 38 Christmas as Religion ‘Despite the best and most creative endeavours of the Church, the essentially secular nature of the English Christmas persisted and was to endure into Tudor and Stuart times’ (Golby and Purdue 2000: 29). Hence, when we read today of campaigns by conservative Christians to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ or to remind people that ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ (see Forbes 2007: 32), we are witnessing a continuation of the idea to establish rectitude, discipline, and asceticism at this most profligate of seasons.

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