Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I’m led to believe, was significant in popularising the celebration of Christmas among the English upper classes. Before this time it had very much been a holiday for the industrial, labouring classes. One hundred and seventy-one years on and Christmas remains an indispensable part of the working person’s social calendar. It is important to celebrate Christmas. The idea that this is a time to remember the fabled events in a Palestinian cattle shed twenty centuries ago has never actually been in vogue; it has always – since pre-Christian times – been a time for gathering loved ones together and rejoicing at the beginning of the end of winter.
I have grown into the opinion that it is a good thing that the tempering of the festivities by moralising religious forcing has gone into sharp decline. Christianity was something that was added to the winter solstice celebration, and now it is receding. At the other extreme there is the over doing of Christmas; something of an over compensation for economically enforced frugality through the rest of the year, and I have come to believe this to be the case.
In the arenas of social care and community development (largely the preserves of local authority patronisation) almost an entire month is lost to the indulgence of Christmas. From mid-December until mid-January homes are stocked up with drink and become the hubs of an ongoing letting loose from the pressures of the year before and a preparation for much of the same in the year ahead. Try getting people ready for exams with this as a reset button. Everything done up to December is lost. As frustrating as it is, it is understandable. It isn’t a failure of the culture; it is a failure of the social care mindset that forces a reaction from the culture.