The Ambivalence of Christmas



The Christmas season is supposed to be magical, beautiful, filled with love and kindred. A quiet time of contemplation and reflection. But is it?

In an increasingly secular world Christmas has changed. The quiet season has developed into a long-lasting rush hour. Everyone dives into the masses of Christmas markets, Christmas parties and extensive gift shopping. The holiday season is not a period of reflection and charitableness anymore but a period of peaks in sales in the retail sector. Studies have actually found that it is a very unhealthy time of the year. People gain weight and diabetes patients have heightened levels of blood sugar. Whereas those two phenomena are easily understood regarding the seducing amount of heavenly tasting Christmas sweets, another fact is somehow shocking: Every fourth person is exposed to headaches and every tenth to sleeplessness due to the pressure of gift shopping. Oh Lord, how could we end up here?

Fact is, the holiday season has been extended. Whereas the Christmas season traditionally began on the first Christmas day, nowadays it comprises the whole advent time. If we consider the retail sector it starts already in October when the first christmas chocolate enters the supermarkets. In this whole period, people are living their everyday lives with work, family life, university deadlines and exams and whatever other commitments they might have. In a world where everyday life has an accelerating speed it might not be as easy as it seems to fit a thousand Christmas activities into the schedule.

So to answer the question raised above, we need to make a distinction – between the Christmas season and the Christmas days themselves. Because when one listens to the people around everything one hears is: “Thank God when Christmas has arrived and I can relax with my family at home.” The Christmas season is stressful. But the Christmas days are still a quiet time, so magical, beautiful, filled with love and kindred.


Catharina Rudschies,

Alumna European Studies

The Ambivalence of Christmas
Author: Redactie
Tags: Catharina

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