The Social Function of Christmas

Finding Purpose

Christmas
Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.
– B.C. Forbes

Imagine you’re a visitor from another planet and have never heard of Christmas. The beliefs and rituals celebrated during Christmas would look very puzzling: cutting down trees to put in our living-rooms, putting an array of trinkets on them, covering everything in lights, and telling stories to our children about an absurdly generous man who uses reindeer to fly around the world in a sled. Why would any rational creature engage in the silly behavior associated with Christmas?

As a holiday rooted in religious rituals, the heart of Christmas is to the spirit of community. The purpose of evoking such a strong spirit of community around this time goes back to Christmas’ pagan roots and celebrations associated with the Winter solstice. Marking the darkest…

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