By Christopher Deacy
This paintings develops severe hyperlinks among sleek representations of Christmas and the class of religion.
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Additional info for Christmas as religion : rethinking Santa, the secular, and the sacred
1 For the early Christians, birthdays were seen as pagan customs—emphasis was placed on the date of one’s death rather than on one’s birth as typiﬁed by the records surrounding early Christian martyrdoms—and there is nothing in the Gospels which gives us any indication of when Jesus was actually born (see Golby and Purdue 2000: 23). Indeed, although the Nativity story is so inextricably linked in people’s imagination to the Christmas festival, it is ironic that only two of the four Gospels report it.
2 A different sort of protocol is operative, as betokened by Kuper’s claim that the ‘establishment of a special Christmas economy—marked by the absence of work and the giving of presents and charitable donations—inverts the economy of everyday life’ (Kuper 2001: 167). It may be that at New Year we ‘re-enter a secular, competitive, workaday, class-ridden, sexual world’ (Kuper 2001: 166), but during the Christmas period at least we experience a time of the year that has its own distinctive religious, and speciﬁcally eschatological, ontology.
Miles even went so far as to attest that Christianity was ‘pessimistic as regards this earth, and valued it only as a place of discipline for the life to come; it was essentially a religion of renunciation that said “no” to the world’ (Miles 1912: 24). So intrinsic was the afterlife to the early Christians that, as Badham and Badham put it, it was the ‘absolute assurance of the reality of heaven which made the ﬁrst followers of Christ so ready to suffer and die as martyrs to their faith’ (Badham and Badham 1984: ix).