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Christmas and society

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Cultural changes

Christmas tree(Christmas tree)

With the globalization of cultural exchanges and the secularization of society, the festivities related to Christmas are gradually taking a profane and family character and are becoming increasingly disconnected from religious interpretation. Christmas is still a public holiday in some countries and sometimes leads to the school holidays for the gathering of families.

So, Christmas becomes, generally, a secular festival where members of the same family are found and exchange gifts with each other in a fairly universal ritual decoration of the house and the Christmas tree. Installation, on the evening of December 24 to Christmas Eve, of shoes of all family members at the foot of the tree; opening gifts within hours, often in the morning of December 25; meal consisting of a Christmas turkey and ending with a Christmas log, etc. This ritual is also reflected at the level of a local population with the decoration of the streets and shop windows in towns and villages from the beginning of December, the arrival of Santa Claus on the markets or in the nursery, or in January by the King cake, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi to the infant Jesus.

These traditions are widely accepted and shared by the majority of practicing Christians who customize their holy day by adding a crib and, for Catholics, the celebration of the Nativity for a midnight mass; however some are see a diversion of Christmas. Dechristianized, this day becomes, for some families, the celebration where parents celebrate their children: they express their love with gifts for no reason (unlike birthdays, individual parties, etc.), even if for the child the gift is associated sometimes with a deemed-compliant behavior.

Other major religions have familiar festivals where parents thank their children to exist (eg Purim in Jewish tradition). But Catholic bodies have long expressed their disapproval of the mercantile turn which this festival is taken. Exceptionally, this disapproval was able to take spectacular aspects, as 23 December 1951 when an representative effigy of Santa was burned in the square of the Dijon Cathedral by parishioners.

Many churches do not celebrate Christmas, likening it to a pagan holiday. Christmas is sometimes considered a commercial holiday. The massive purchase of Christmas gifts has as effect a spike in consumption, particularly in the areas of toys, recreation, food and catering. In response to this buying spree, a global day without purchase, usually scheduled on 25 November, is organized by adbusters to denounce the economic aspect of this feast, and, by extension, mass consumption in general.


Christmas at Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, US(Christmas at Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, US)

Christmas animations are many and varied. Some are more symbolic and recurrent than others like Christmas trees, Christmas shows and Christmas markets. All are designed primarily to bring the dream and magic associated with Christmas, partly for children.

Christmas trees

Two types of Christmas trees are used: private Christmas trees (usually internal to companies) and public Christmas trees. Private Christmas trees are generally composed of performances, and animation featuring disguised characters: Christmas Elves, Mrs. Claus, Santa … Christmas trees are different. Near a larger Christmas tree in a Christmas market there is sometimes a Santa who agrees to pose for pictures.

Christmas shows

Christmas shows are often private. For the children of the employees of an institution a few weeks before Christmas, or just for the general public. The principle is to give dreams to children, on the theme of Christmas, telling them stories, distributing curl. The characters animating this event are disguised.

Christmas markets

Christmas markets historically have crafts dedicated to Christmas. This type of event endures in time even if the nature of the products tends to become more and more industrial and heterogeneous.

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