Has Christmas become too commercial?
Rev. Nicholas Holtam, Vicar of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London.
Has Christmas been subverted? Because it's such a commercial occasion now in Britain, isn't it? A commercial celebration that starts in early November. And the shops fill up with goods that tempt you, and cause you to spend too much. And people spend too much on their credit cards. Is it an average of seven hundred pounds that families spend on Christmas? An extraordinary amount of money.
Christmas has become such a commercial celebration, hasn't it? And C.S. Lewis used to talk about Glory to God in the High Street and the spirit of X-mass rather than Christmas; and that does not fit well with a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem, two thousand years ago, with no home, as a refugee. There's something that doesn't connect between the commercialism of our Christmas and the real bare simplicity of the story of the Birth of Jesus.
Tony Marsden, who is Merchandise Manager for a large department store in London.
There's a number of departments that have what we would call extremes of Christmas trading. Perfumery, undoubtedly, is one where the uptake in sales in enormous; toys, naturally, is another one; menswear, dinner jackets, of course; evening wear, and of course we see a benefit in sales of those. You know, whatever your beliefs are, at this time of the year you have the opportunity to live Christmas as you want it. My job is to sell products and as successfully as we can. And people give a lot of pleasure in giving presents.
"From Advent Sunday, four weeks before Christmas, we go into Christmas gear - and all sorts of people come and celebrate Christmas with us; and really for those four weeks, we'll be full one, two, three times a day with people coming to celebrate Christmas in preparation for this event, and I think, that says there's a tremendous longing to find the heart of the story in the story of Jesus, and the search for God come among us - I really think there's a strong longing for that. So it's not all Glory to God in the high street, and there's a much deeper longing for something substantial, and we know that you can't buy it, but we do want it."