“The Christmas spirit”? A mixture of charity and family happiness. But he was misled.
THE PLUS. Gifts, a tree and a sumptuous meal. These are the recurring ingredients of the Christmas holidays. Should we reduce this time of year to its commercial declination? What is the Christmas spirit? What is his story ? Lighting of the socio-anthropologist Martyne Perrot, author of “The Christmas gift, the story of an invention” (Editions Autrement, 2013).
“The Christmas spirit” originated at the cerebral level, according to researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. In a study published in the “British Medical Journal”, the latter show, through functional MRI analysis, that the theme of the holiday season solicits certain areas of the brain.
Credible? I doubt. Moreover, these researchers themselves express some reservations about their “discovery”, “which must be interpreted with caution”. Should not we rather see here a last “Christmas tale”, a little too scientistic that one, for our time that we say “disenchanted”?
Charles Dickens at the origin of “the spirit of Christmas”
In fact, the origin of “the spirit of Christmas” is attributed to Charles Dickens, and his famous “Christmas Carol” (“Christmas Carol”) published December 17, 1843, which will be a “bestseller” and whose public readings will attract enthusiastic crowds to London, Paris or Boston.
In this text, the spirit of Christmas is a mixture of charity, family happiness, social harmony, solidarity … He is played by Bob Cratchit against the miser Scrooge.
The spirit of Christmas is above all synonymous with gathering around these values portrayed by Dickens. And this very Victorian imagery (1850) corresponds to that time when the fledgling bourgeoisie appropriated this event, by generalizing the December 24 vigils near the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts between the family members, whose feast celebrates links annually by bringing together the generations around the child.
Santa Claus, late and syncretic figure, linked to St. Nicholas, German Santa Claus and Santa Claus, will end up rewarding all children without conditions.
An injunction to adhere to “the spirit of Christmas”
Nevertheless, the way one adheres (or not) to the spirit of Christmas, which one feels or rejects, also depends on the quality of our family relationships. Bad memories of childhood do not often want to celebrate these ties in serenity.
Another fact helps to slow down the enthusiasm of the end of year festivities. Today is mostly broadcast, especially through the media, a kind of injunction to adhere to “the spirit of Christmas”. Thus, lonely people sometimes force themselves to celebrate the event. But loneliness at Christmas can be extremely hard to live. In this sense, this festival brings to light, literally and figuratively, the state of our society (of our family, of the relationship with children, of giving …).
But this injunction is also, alas, that of consuming at all costs, that relays actively trade. Do not forget that the department stores have accompanied, since their creation in the late nineteenth century, the rise of Christmas. And, by the same token, no doubt also participated in the deviation of the “spirit” that it conveyed.
Below are our 30 favorite Christmas Wood Signs.