Has Christmas Been Hijacked by Santa Claus?

December 15, 2011 :: Trudy Govier and Rossitsa Yalamova
Moderated by Suzanne Lenon

Although Santa Claus was originally viewed as the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas, a patron saint of children, Santa Claus is arguable wholly secular in today’s world. Some Christians object to him because he is secular rather than Christian; some non-Christians object to him because of his Christian roots. He is a powerful cultural symbol which is nearly impossible to ignore, but does this mean that he should simply be accepted without question?

The Santa Claus myth is based on the idea of children getting gifts. There’s nothing wrong with getting gifts, but Santa Claus seems to make it the focus of the entire holiday. Children are encouraged to behave according to parental expectation in order to receive ever more presents. In order to make their Christmas wish lists, kids pay close attention to what advertisers tell them they need and should want, effectively encouraging unbridled consumerism and economic activity.

Some might think that because Santa Claus is such an old tradition, this alone is sufficient reason to continue it. They were taught to believe in Santa as children, so why not pass this along to their own? But arguments from tradition are rarely sufficient to establish a point and in any case the role of Santa Claus in Christmas celebration is actually quite recent — the mid to late 19th century. The speakers will speculate on how or if the Santa Claus culture benefits society overall.

Speakers: Trudy Govier and Rossitsa Yalamova

Trudy Govier is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Lethbridge. Her interests are in the areas of critical thinking and social philosophy. She is the author of a widely used textbook A Practical Study of Argument (7th Edition 2010), and ten other works including Dilemmas of Trust (1998), and Forgiveness and Revenge (2002). In the Lethbridge community, Trudy has helped to organize public lecture series and Philosophy Cafes, and worked with Amnesty International.

Rossitsa M. Yalamova is an Associate professor of Finance at the University of Lethbridge. She holds a Ph.D. in finance from Kent State University. Her research has been published in Fractals, International Research Journal of Finance and Economics, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, etc. She is interested in risk measurement, analysis of market crashes, phase transition and chaos. In 2009-10, Rossitsa was a visiting professor at the Facoltà di Scienze Economiche, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.

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