Christmas: An anthropological lens

Daniel Miller


Why does the festival of Christmas appear to be expanding worldwide while other festivals decline? Why do people emphasize their local rituals, given this is a global festival? Is this a religious festival whose values have been destroyed by materialism? What is the relationship between this family celebratory meal and the divine family to which it pays obeisance? These seemed to be questions that lent themselves to an anthropological perspective. For this reason in 1993 I brought together an edited volume Unwrapping Christmas, which was published by Oxford University Press. For that collection I also obtained permission from Claude Lévi-Strauss to include the first translation of his paper “Le Pere Noël supplicié.” Subsequently, on request from Suhrkamp Verlag, who had published several of my books in German, I submitted the following manuscript as part of their launch of a series of more popular academic works in a digital edition. This is the first publication of the manuscript in English.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau7.3.027