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Exploring Christmas Abroad: Reflections on Capitalism, Compassion, and Community

The Twinkling lights, festive tunes, and the scent of pine… it could only be Christmas, a season that evokes warmth and joy. But how is the holiday celebrated abroad? And what is the true essence of Christmas- is it merely a product of capitalism, or do its beginnings in Paganism invite us to pause and celebrate?


The Christmas tale


Christmas as we know it is a reflection of the Pagan Winter Solstice celebration. It serves as a reminder that everything has a cycle, just like the four seasons. As Christians transitioned the celebration into their faith, they incorporated some aspects of existing cultural practices, in order to resonate with tradition.


Can one be dubbed a Grinch for not reveling in the holiday spirit? For some, Christmas decor brings joy, but for others the season can emphasize the absence of loved ones or resurrect past traumas. It's a reminder that the holiday isn't universally joyous, especially for those far from home.


Speaking with friends abroad, the emotional toll of spending Christmas away becomes evident. Conversations echo the challenges of being separated from loved ones during this supposedly joyous time. Other travelers, however, may choose to be away, as their family setting might not feel so safe.


Against the tradition


Amidst the challenges of being away from family, spending Christmas abroad can unveil lavish experiences. Meeting observers of different backgrounds, can showcase the diversity of festive celebrations across the globe.


Examining Christmas through the lens of capitalism, however, paints a different picture. We become victims to our material desires while parents are pressured to express their love with overpriced gifts. Despite its marriage to consumerism in the modern day, Christmas is still a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and express gratitude.


Contrast in different cultures


Although not traditionally Christian Istanbul, surprisingly offers the occasional Christmas tree in restaurants. This falls in contrast to the dazzling display in Barcelona, where every corner is adorned with festive lights. From a Western perspective, it’s easy to forget that not all cultures celebrate; as a result, many countries cater to tourists; even the remote islands of Thailand offer a Christmas roast.


While full of capitalist fervor, Christmas is a time to reconnect with loved ones and an excuse to give back. Still, important to highlight that Christmas isn't universally easy for everyone, and is not celebrated by all cultures.


Community and compassion.


It’s equally vital to check on neighbors and friends who might be facing challenges at this festive time. Those who feel charitable can also give back to the community or embrace second-hand gifts, or opt for homemade creations that, even if not perfect, will forever hold sentimental value.


In essence, while Christmas may carry capitalist undertones, it remains a time to celebrate and connect. It’s imperative to embrace the spirit of compassion and community, even if for some the holiday season is not always easy.


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Tags: #opinion #capitalism #christmas #consumerism #paganism



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