I did not have a Christmas celebration with my family since December 2006. It is not because I do not want to be with family, but I have not been in my home country during that season. Throughout these years, being outside the warmth of family and kinship, I developed a more ‘blunt’ look on Christmas. I must admit that this process has started long before that.
All those lightbulbs in tasteless shapes and colours, all those low-quality Nativity figurines, the (artificial) Christmas trees, the plastic Santa Claus balloons not to forget the incredible amounts of jejune foods and health-damaging sweets. I could go on and on describing this excess, this overabundance of low-grade insipid stuff. A cyclone of ads is penetrating your eyes and ears forcing you the choice of buying the big nothing. A big party of pretention, ignorance and plastic.
Christmas is primarily a religious break to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. It has been embedded in the culture of the Christian world and thus it has become a civic holiday and cultural festivity, celebrated in a variety of ways around the world, some of them having pre-Christian origin.
Gift-giving is certainly a core custom of Christmas that is dating back to Roman festival of Saturnalia dedicated to the deity Saturn. Gift-giving was taking place the 23rd of December in an atmosphere resembling the bountiful nature of Earth in a condition of equality between humans as it was believed the mythical ‘golden age’ had been.
Nowadays, Christmas is the single most profitable period of the year for almost all industries in the world. It is big business, marketers are on the prowl! That explains why Christmas has become a global event as New Year with ever-extending ‘Christmas shopping season’ that starts in some places as early as October (!).
Gift-giving itself is a liberal act that affirms relations in diverse situations, and at a larger scale keeps a society together. This ritual projects the mental representations we bare for the one we give the present to. It is the amount and kind of gifts we give; presents are becoming more impersonal and increasingly artificial. They have become a norm together with all those Christmas supplies that our planet cannot afford anymore. The world is full of stuff; we are all drowning in waste!
There is hardly anything spiritual left in the Christmas spirit – it is mostly a big ad campaign; the time we spent with our beloved persons is shorter in a pace of life more hectic than ever. Knowing the unprecedented catastrophes of overconsumption and massive waste (obese nations) and the simultaneous crime against 925.000.000 people that do not have access to food (let alone presents), we would suggest that we evade our consumer-self do explore more our real self.
I always preferred personalized, hand-made, home-made artisanal gifts no matter how small their monetary value is. I also prefer to have less stuff, so I enjoy something small, useful (edible) and symbolic. I enjoy to have more time with friends and family than running around in malls in the pervasive Xmas rush. It is also a good time to listen to the winter season and to its soothing silence, for it is about self-reflection and a state of being, not just randomly doing.
More and more people are feeling they deserve more than just being consumers; they opt for deep fulfilling human experiences that can be as thrilling as everyday living.