What is Christmas? – a teenagers’ view

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Bright and early on Christmas morning, you wake to see the streets covered in snow (or slush!). Anticipation builds as you and your siblings open the living room door to find a pile of presents under the tree.

After a year’s worth of bickering the family gather around a table of extravagant foods (when there is clearly too much there, even with ten of you). You exchange gifts, pull crackers, and afterwards settle down to watch the Christmas episodes of your favourite soaps.

This is the time of year we fuss about for months in advance. I do wonder though, how has this religious celebration become such a glorified holiday across the globe?

The meaning of Christmas is subjective; in a survey conducted by ComsRes in 2011 about modern day Christmas, results showed that:

  • 83%believe that Christmas is about spending time with family and friends.
  • 62% agreed that Christmas is a time when we should be generous to people less fortunate than ourselves.
  • 41% agreed that Christmas is about celebrating that God loves humanity. 24% disagreed with this.
  • 40% said Christmas is a good excuse for taking time off and doesn't really have any meaning today, but 34 % disagreed with this.

The majority of us probably imagine Christmas to mimic those that we watch in films. At 16 years old, it is becoming clear that there is more to Christmas than the opening of presents, the decorating of trees and the letter writing to Santa; but without such things, the magic of Christmas would get tied up in the stress of it.

Family Traditions

Although amongst my friends we share similar views of Christmas, we all celebrate with our families in different ways.

Being 16, adults assume that at this age we are hesitant to be involved with family activities and we’d much prefer to sit with our phones, watching as the rest of the family rush around us!

To set things straight, when it comes to Christmas, (I’m sure I speak on behalf of teenagers across the world too), this is not the case. I am a big believer in tradition, especially when it comes to Christmas and, no word of a lie, I will probably be moody for the rest of the week if I don’t get to put the star on top of the tree. (Despite having a 6 year old sister and 5 year old brother, I still managed to maintain my star placing duty last year). The excitement of my 5 year old self, still takes over my I-should-be-focusing-on-exams, mind.

From since I can remember, I have never felt such an overwhelming sense of emotion than when it’s Christmas. What this emotion is I don’t know, but it’s the best feeling, hands down!

Our Household

As an only child up until the age of 10, I had quite a lot of control over my Christmas. I was able to do things how I wanted, and I guess I still wanted to do things the same, even after the arrival of my brother and sister. Despite some small changes, most things are the same. The first weekend in December is ‘the buying and decorating of the Christmas tree’, which we go to choose as a family. The Christmas songs go on, as we shower the tree with various baubles and tinsel (I’ve never understood how some people keep their trees so neat and colour co-ordinated). Once the house resembles that of a Christmas grotto, we sit down to watch Elf, (after waiting all year to watch it). Apart from the actual day itself, this is probably my favourite time of the holiday season.

All I want for christmas is....

In the Christmas Spending 2014 Money Advice survey, results showed that:

  • The average adult spends £530on their festive celebrations
  • £2.4 billion is wasted on uneaten, discarded food and unwanted gifts
  • Almost 90% of under 18's would be happy to receive fewer presents, to help ease financial concerns for their family
  • 37 per cent said they feel pressure to spend more than they can comfortably afford, to put on a special Christmas for their families

It’s almost sad that Christmas has become so materialised, but would we be happy without all this fuss and extravagance? It’s hard, especially when you have to start thinking about buying presents a few months prior to Christmas. As my independence is growing, I have decided to buy presents for people myself, and am realising the struggles of it all.

In some ways I think Christmas today may be more about the presents and the decorations than the family celebrations. As a child, this is all you see Christmas as, I know I did. But that’s how this generation is being brought up. I know now that there is a lot more to it, and I’m glad I’ve come to that realisation. People shouldn’t feel under pressure to fulfil the high expectations that we have today, but that is how Christmas has evolved.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Christmas was hardly celebrated. It was not even recognized as a holiday by most businesses. However, by the end of the century, it had become the biggest annual celebration and started to become the Christmas we know today. Fruits, nuts, sweets and small handmade trinkets, were originally given as gifts and are a world away from the things we receive now. Whether you believe that Christmas has become too centered on the material side of things, it is still such a rewarding feeling giving people their presents, after putting in the thought and effort to earn the money yourself. (Maybe I won’t be saying that in 10 years’ time). So Christmas has changed throughout the years, but so have we.

So, what is Christmas?

In my 16 year old opinion, I believe the meaning of Christmas is personal. I don’t think you can say exactly what it is, because it’s different for everyone. Whether you are a Tiny Tim or a Scrooge, you will have things that make your Christmas special and unique to you. I know I do.

Whatever that ‘thing’ is for you, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas from myself and the Platypus Team!




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Guest Sunday, 18 February 2018