Christmas Digest

Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones from the Saeculum!

Tis’ the season for overconsumption! This obviously applies to food and drink at Christmas, but it can also be true of our media in-take as well. Whether it be films, radio programmes, music, periodicals or magazines, we are treated to a rich and overwhelming feast for the senses over the festive period. 

This sense of overconsumption can also seep into the Christmas story itself—an endless array of characters and perspectives to consider, carols to sing and insights to glean. 

Given all of this, I have felt the need to curate some of my reading this Christmas. In this piece, I offer a brief sample—a digest if you will—of Christmas reflections  from across the internet. I have divided these into two sections: Christmas History, which deals with the history of the accounts of the first Christmas in the gospels and Christmas Meanings, which draws out the broader cultural significance of the season. 

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Gifts, Then and Now

Reciprocal gift-giving, for all of its potential pitfalls, can build stronger relationships.  

In his 2018 Ecumenical Christmas Letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, appropriately chose to address a practice that is virtually ubiquitous at Christmas time—gift-giving. Describing the celebration of Christmas, Welby writes that “a gift given with the expectation of something in return is not a gift”. In other words, the divine gift of Christ is non-reciprocal, or offered without the intention of the receiver giving something back. While Welby’s statement about non-reciprocal gift-giving might well describe the divine gift to humans, it is worth pausing to ask—does non-reciprocity set the tone for human gift-giving?

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