Santa in the Crib

31 December 2018 - 50   - 0

The Christmas season is a time where people all over the world give more prominence to Santa and goodies, than ever in the history of the world.

By Prof. Shavindra R. Dias

Though St. Nicholas in 270 AD distributed presents to children of the poor and neglected to make them happy, in the modern-day, Santa is a hallmark of consumerism.

Why Christmas has become so, when it originally was associated with the nativity of Christ? There are contemporary religious philosophies, which go hand in hand with certain economic principles, which may explain this sad transition.

Prosperity Theology is a belief among certain Christians, who hold that the financial blessings and physical well-being are always the will of God for them. Faith, positive speech and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity Theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans:  If humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. Ask and it shall be given to you, though how unethical is the request!!

This has been a gradual process, where the church and theology itself crucified the baby in the manger, by emphasizing  more on materials. So through the tradition of food and beverages, along with new clothes, colourwashing and even buying new altar clothes and vestments for clergy, subtly,  but in a very organized way replacing  the preaching of the servant king by taking the verse “ Ask and it shall be given to you" in out of context and propagating  prosperity theology.  

The heaven on earth is created at the cost of raping the virgin mother earth. All these goods which come out during Christmas will be solid waste. This has nothing to do with the message of Christmas of a Christ child, who gave up everything of heaven, to come to live as a human and even take up the cross. The prosperity theology harmoniously blends with materialism and hand in glove with consumerism. 

After all God bless you so much that we could accumulate and consume many. The consumerism is augmented   by freedom of choice. The consumer naively believes that he is indeed choosing from all possible options! Sadly the market is not so kind; advertisements and media navigate our motives, where wants are shown as needs. Christmas gives a very good pedestal for the market leaders to manipulate the consumer, in the name of gifts, goodies and happiness. Therefore it is logical that the current marketplace has to replace Christ, the poor infant wrapped in rags, among the cattle with the posh Santa. This replacement is blessed with the prosperity theology than the preaching of the Servant King.

The man on the street is fooled so much by the factors as described, so that  his budget during Christmas get swayed by wrong priorities and make him consume what the market wants to sell, in the name of Santa. The man on the street, does not realize that, this phenomenon is the “  opium of the masses”,( not religion or Karl Marx described) but believes unconsciously that his choice is indeed maximized by so many goods for sale during Christmas.

Christmas is hardly a religious festival in the contemporary world, but has become a celebration of wealth. Christ has to be replaced with an idol, which could orchestrate this phenomenon.  Therefore, together with prosperity theology, consumerism and freedom of so called choice, has found an amicable solution. That is to replace Christ with Santa. Santa in the Crib.


( The author is Professor in Psychiatry  at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya)


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