Is Christmas a Potlatch?

Is Christmas a potlatch?  It seems to me to bear some resemblance to the Northwest Native American festivals.

For instance:  Economically, it functions as a massive redistribution of wealth.  One’s status seems to increase with the amount and value of goods that one can give away.  And people sometimes go broke giving away their wealth.  In each of those respects, it resembles the Native American festivals.

So, is Christmas mainstream society’s equivalent of a potlatch?  What do you think?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Is Christmas a Potlatch?

  1. Good point, people (particularly men IMO–sorry Paul) seem to base their self esteem on how much money they can throw around. You know, the 2 hosts facing off over who’s going to pick up the check. To me, it seems like a gorging fest — maybe ’cause I’m the woman in the kitchen trying to — well, you know. Either way, it’s out of control.

  2. Karen Hedwig Backman

    Nothing of the sort! Christmas is a capitalistic plot to fleece the poor and entertain the One Percent as they watch the frenzied flounderings of the working poor in Wal-mart to seize hold of a piece of God damned crap made in China, trampling over dead bodies or pepper-spraying other customers as they do, or taking potshots at them with handguns, AK-47s, et al.
    A vulgar, vulgar holiday!
    And a very God Damned Merry UnChristmas to all.
    I choose to quietly celebrate the Solstice in a Pietist sort of way.

  3. It may serve as that for some. For others, I think it’s part duty and part opportunity to give the people in their lives something the recipients will enjoy.

    For me, it’s a belated celebration of the winter solstice. No giving required.

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