Christmas and the Social Sciences – El Urbano Rural

Did you know that Christmas isn’t just intense for Santa Claus? For the sciences and especially the social sciences, this is also true, because this ceremonial provides a special setting for the study of innumerable social phenomena: tensions and values, class relations, gender roles, economic return, indebtedness, personal evaluation, depression and anxiety, and halo effects in judicial matters. , among many other topics.

To try a button: Forty years ago, Kablo explained that gift rituals were a way to enhance highly valued, but insecure, relationships. Kasser and Sheldon showed, 20 years ago, that family and spiritual activities can help people feel more fulfilled, while the material aspects of modern Christmas celebrations can be detrimental to well-being. A little earlier, Comter showed that reciprocity in gifts and actions can be seen as a principle of exclusion, and Hillard and Buckman analyzed the so-called “Christmas depression”. The combination of Christmas and Covid was equally interesting: Parker and Spinman report that Christmas markets add an experiential dimension through a series of visual, auditory, and olfactory elements that create a complex sensory response, which could be a “Christmas atmosphere,” which was evidently absent in the pandemic. Which had a negative impact on the mental health of the population. But it has implications not only for mental health, but also in the economic realm, as Igrisi and collaborators also appreciated the positive socioeconomic benefits of Christmas markets.

As you can see, the list is long, varied, and even entertaining to investigate, in connection with many other interesting studies of this particular date, if you have the time and inclination to find out.

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You will agree with me that, in our country especially, it would be absurd to deny the hyper-commercialization and materialism with which people face these histories, and the misconception that the gift is bigger or more expensive because the more I love the person. , or the emotion of abuse with which Christmas trademarks embody. You can search for these and other “buts” for Christmas, from positivism and I do not doubt that you will succeed in getting a long list that will give you, for your peace of mind, the reason for the point.

Likewise, it is very likely that, on this Christmas Eve, you or at least several members of your household will show signs of genuine respect for others during this period. You can start your own observational investigations and try to understand why so many people perceive their environment with different eyes. Try asking yourself why your friends and strangers try to help, share and enjoy helping others. Pity? sympathy? hedonism? Social camouflage? combination of them? Indeed, but it could also be that this “Christmas atmosphere” that he realizes in his research makes it possible to reveal certain circumstances that allow to apply what the great Marie Curie commented long ago: “The best life is not the longest, but the one full of good deeds”.

Perhaps this explains why at this time you can see people talking with abandoned people, groups of students handing out and sharing gifts with children and elderly people in hospitals, or delivering and singing Christmas carols with homeless people. This may also explain, at work, why people are seen sharing and forgetting, even for a few moments, the bad times or quarrels they may have had during the year.

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There are two very different moments in life when, for different reasons, one has the possibility or need to participate, albeit in very different ways. Certainly, you will see a frequent sight at funerals: heartbroken people, who become so familiar with that difficult and traumatic moment, who will never be able to tell the person leaving them, what they had or wanted to say, or look back. What they have already done could not have been done together and it surely would have meant a special moment for both peoples if it had happened.

But Christmas, with its nuances, also opens up this possibility without this sad outcome. Have you not called a friend for a long time and you are already embarrassed about all the time that has passed? Didn’t you tell your parents how much you loved them a long time ago? Do you feel like you spend too little time with your daughters? Have you not participated in solidarity campaigns before? Does your pride prevent you from apologizing for something you feel is not your fault? Have you ever hugged someone on the street? Now you have the perfect excuse. Blame it on the “Christmas spirit” while enjoying and cherishing Christmas, just as we do, and leaving the investigations for a while until we feel, at least for a few days while we let our guard down and lower our barriers, that the community we long for sometimes seems closer than we think.

Come rejoice and Merry Christmas to you.

Dr. Carlos Perez Wilson
Academic at the Institute of Social Sciences
O’Higgins University

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