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Why does Christmas matter?

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Christmas -shopping

It seems amazing but Christmas is almost here again - for many it’s the highlight of the year, for probably an equal number of people it’s the bane of their life!

So who’s right? we thought we’d take opposite sides of the argument and look into the ongoing debate as to whether Christmas is good or bad!

Christmas is great for the economy

It’s been said that the Christmas period is what keeps the UK (and possibly world) retail sector afloat.

According to which report you read a typical household spends between £500 (according to a Bank of England report) and more than £800 (According to possibly the slightly biased British Retail Consortium) - so certainly good for the retail sector!

For complicated reasons that economists and politicians cite about why retail sales are important apparently this is good for consumers as well (and when are they ever wrong?).

People keep jobs, prices go down, everyone’s happy (or maybe that should be “merry”).

There are dissenters to this view however, like Economist Joel Waldfogel who puts forward several arguments in his book Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays as to why…. well it’s sort of in the title.

In Addition there’s a page on debate.org devoted to whether Christmas is good or bad for the economy which anyone can get involved in (currently 63% of people say “Yes, it is” - but optimists are always more highly motivated in my experience)

Christmas can get depressing

Christmas can be a melancholy time, we’re often reminded, and all the greatest seasonal tales often centre on someone less fortunate than ourselves struggling through the festive period.

What if you’re that person? in sharp contrast to all the joyous celebration that everyone one else (reportedly) is having, your own misery might just seem a bit worse and possibly tip you over the edge.

But this report states that the assumption that suicide rates go up at Christmas are wrong - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in the US suicide rates came to a rest around Christmas, showing no increase.

So in this respect Christmas is holding off people’s misery!

The inevitable downside of this is that suicide rates actually peak shortly after in spring in what some have called a post-Christmas rebound.

Christmas unites (a large chunk of) humanity

Lots of people celebrate Christmas - I mean, a LOT.

An estimated 2 Billion people in more than 160 countries celebrate Christmas - not surprising since Christianity is apparently the world’s largest religion claiming 31% of the world’s 6.9 billion people.

So, arguably, by celebrating Christmas, in some small way you are connected to significant minority of your fellow person.

But some might feel that the central message of Christmas, for most people, has nothing to do with being religious - a poll found that while 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, only 55 percent regard it as a religious holiday.

And that’s in America! quite possibly the numbers would be lower in Europe and the UK.

Not that that necessarily matters - maybe Christmas operates on enough levels that it requires no specific iconography (It’s winter, everyone’s a little glum - let’s have a party!).

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or views on how Christmas is celebrated?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.


By Alastair Baker at 9 Dec 2018, 00:00 AM