Monday, February 16, 2009

Christmas & Philosophy

Christmas & Philosophy: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Scott C. Lowe
Bloomsburg University

Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world. Whether practicing Christians or not, the great majority of the 1.5 billion people in Europe and the Americas acknowledge Christmas as part of their cultural heritage. With the growing interest in popular philosophy, Christmas is a natural subject of critique. Christmas themes dominate at least two months out of every year on television, in movies, magazines and the marketplace; as part of our popular culture it touches everyone’s life, Christian and non-Christian alike. Yet, at the same time it is among the holiest of days for Christians, so there is also room in this volume for accessible treatment of meatier topics in philosophy, theology, etc. In addition to philosophers, scholars from religious studies, theology, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology or any other discipline with an interest in analyzing Christmas themes are encouraged to submit abstracts.

Some possible topics include:
  • The tension between Christmas as a religious holiday and its celebration as a commercial, even secular holiday.
  • Should we ‘Put Christ back into Christmas,’ or would society, and the economy, be better off making Christmas even more secular and commercial?
  • The ontological status of Santa Claus – material or immaterial?
  • Santa Claus and personal identity; which cultural manifestation is the real Santa, are all of them the same Santa?
  • Does Santa exploit elf labor?
  • Crèche displays on courthouse lawns: the ACLU and Christmas.
  • Is Santa’s use of flying reindeer animal abuse?
  • Miracles and the possibility of virgin birth.
  • Does it matter to Christian belief that the myth of Jesus’ winter birth in Bethlehem is historically false?
  • The ‘Christmasization’ of non-Christian holidays, e.g., Hanukah, Kwanza, Thanksgiving.
  • Competitive Christmas Decorating – My Inflatable Santa in Bigger than Yours.
  • Does Santa violate the laws of time and space?
  • The moral responsibility of children and Santa’s ‘Naughty List’.
  • The tension between free will and Santa knowing if you’re naughty or nice.
  • Santa’s knowledge and the possibility of telepathy.
  • Do the pagan roots of Christmas celebrations, e.g., the use of trees, its connection with the winter solstice, diminish its importance as a Christian holiday?
  • ‘Chreasters’ and the concept of ‘practice’ – what does it take to be a practicing Christian?
  • Santa Claus as an exemplar of Christian moral values of charity and generosity.
  • Does the popular image of Santa promote generosity or greed?
  • Santa and obesity – does the Jolly Fat Man send the wrong message?
  • The impermissibility of lying and society’s systematic deception of children about the existence of Santa Claus.
  • Can atheists celebrate Christmas?
  • How can we know that Santa exists?
  • The philosophical analysis of Christmas classics and icons, e.g., A Christmas Carol, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas carols, Peanuts’ Christmas, Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, popular music Christmas songs from ‘Jingle Bells’ to ‘Santa Baby’.

This volume will be part of the Wiley-Blackwell series Philosophy for Everyone. Contributors should write with an educated, general audience in mind. Avoiding discipline specific jargon and frequent or lengthy citations is important. Humor and accessibility are especially encouraged.

Guidelines for Contributions:
  • Abstract of paper (approximately 250 words) due by March 15, 2009
  • Accepted authors will receive notification by April 15, 2009
  • Accepted papers must be submitted by September 1, 2009
  • Final papers must be between 4000-5000 words

Abstracts should be submitted electronically to Other proposals for series titles are also welcome; please direct those to Fritz Allhoff at

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