The Christmas Spirit
Abstract: In this article, Edwin Thor examines the Christmas spirit, to conclude that the Christmas spirit is still lacking in sincerity.
Why is Business closed?
Christmas is a highlight in the year for many people. They find great pleasure in giving and receiving presents.
But why is it that business is forced to close? Why forbid people to work, especially in the face of high unemployment? How can such coercion and dictatorship be presented as a time of peace and understanding?
For some Christmas is a celebration of religious and family values. But does this imply that Australia has a State Religion? Why are people who do not share such religious and family values forced to close their shops and join this celebration?
Today, families get smaller and more disperse, society becomes more secular and children more assertive. Christmas is for more and more people a time of depression and loneliness, a time at which they would love to shop, work, meet clients and colleagues, etc. Suicides are at a peak at this time of year.
Over-eating, consumer over-spending and streetfighting are all common at Christmas time. The combination of excessive use of alcohol and traffic peaks causes many road accidents.
If one starts examining it, there are many reasons why Christmas should be abolished, rather than celebrated.
Is it scientifically responsible to say that Santa flies in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, dives into chimneys and distributes within the timespan of one day gifts to millions each year, all without aging? Isn't this a fundamental dishonesty, a breach of trust in the parent-child relationship? Is this not just an act of patronizing deception to make children more obedient? What is the logic of gifts made by elves in a factory at the North Pole? What is the ideological message of teaching children that a single factory (without competition) is the way to go?
Many adults also believe in fairytales. They eagerly await Christmas in the misguided belief that they will get a paid holiday and a Christmas bonus from their employer out of sheer benevolence. But of course, all this has to be paid for somehow. And although some may think to benefit from such a compulsory arrangement, the grand total is negative. Christmas drives many businesses into bankruptcy. Perhaps not shops. But many other businesses need to respond quickly to opportunities, stay in contact with their work, their clients and suppliers, but the law says: no!
Will the Spirit survive?
So, is there a future for the Christmas spirit of giving, of peace and understanding, of tolerance? To force people by law to stop working is not tolerant, peaceful and understanding, nor does it make any sense. A public holiday is not a Christmas gift. The greatest gift would be to give people more Optionality!
Appendix: The changing Face of Christmas
For some people Christmas is primarily a religious holiday, the celebration of the birth of Ghrist. But was Jesus Christ really born on December 25? Or was Christ's birth conveniently put at December 25 to turn the pagan festival of the solstice, the changing of the seasons, into a Christian celebration? The practice of putting trees in the house, the yule-log, the candles and many decorations indicate that the pagan origins are still alive and well.
Today, Christmas is most of all an orgy of consumerism, as personalized by Santa Claus, Father Christmas. According to legend, Nicholas, a benevolent man, was born in Turkey and died on 6 December, 343. He reappears each year, be it under different names. In Austria, e.g., Nikolaus is accompanied by Krampus who scares naughty children. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas, accompanied by one or more black slaves, gives presents to children on December 5, apparently because he was born December 6. St Nicholas was the model for the Hollywood Santa, who was first stylised into a more jolly fellow for Coca Cola ads.
Santa is the response of shops to laws forcing them to close on Christmas. In the rush to buy food for several days, Santa lures people into impulse buying of all kinds of otherwise useless objects. It illustrates how market forces eventually cope with a restrictive regime.