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The Xmas Files: The Philosophy of Christmas

Stephen Law

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Prose: non-fiction, Philosophy

A philosophical but fun look at the meanings of Christmas myths and rituals, from carving the turkey to why Santa wears red.

Picture the scene: Aunt Gertrude has just given you the most appalling Christmas tie, complete with snow-flecked kittens in a bowler hat. Do you smile, nod, and confine it to the bottom drawer Or do you tell the truth and spare yourself future ties from hell Kant would say that we must, at all costs, tell the truth - whilst Mill would insist that we should think of the consequences.

THE XMAS FILES is a philosophical meander though the myths and rituals of Christmas today, asking such important questions as does Santa exist What's wrong with Christmas kitsch Is it all just a commercial racket What was Augustine's attitude to 'peace on earth' And what would David Hume have to say about the virgin birth

For underneath all the festive fun, the way we celebrate Christmas does raise serious questions about the beliefs that sustain us, and the ways in which we still value ritual and tradition as a means of coming together.

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Stephen Law

Stephen Law was a school dropout who became a postman in Cambridge, then took a degree in philosophy at Oxford, becoming a Junior Research Fellow at the Queen's College. He now teaches philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London.

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