December 25, 2011

Christmas in the Future

Merry Christmas, readers!

The only reason I'm writing on Christmas is because the rest of my family is sleeping away, including Mystic who was nice enough to join my immediate family for Christmas morning this year.  Being the first one awake means you wait until everyone else is up to open presents.

Writing my Titania Chronicles story has had me pondering in the future if there will be a Christmas?  Will it be culturally significant?  Will it fade away?

There are plenty of holidays that have remained through time and have merely evolved for the needs of the people.  Christmas is actually a good example of that.  Christmas used to be a simple holiday where you ate with friends if you were lucky enough to have the day off.  The super conservative Christians didn't even celebrate Christmas, and even tried to outlaw it in Britain.  Although the holiday had been around for a long time, it wasn't until the 19th century that it culminated into something close to what we have today.  It was molded into a day where one could spend time with family and friends with dinner and dances and games.  Gift exchange became popular at that time too.  In an era where strict rules on children seemed necessary (depending who was doing the raising, of course), it was nice to have a day where one could spoil one's family.

I think in this fashion, Christmas in the future will exist on Earth, and will probably evolve even more.  There may even come a day where there is a strict division in the kind of celebrations families have.  But I think as long as we remain on Earth, there will be some form of Christmas celebrated.

I think it's when you leave Earth, and start to colonize other planets, that the tradition of Christmas will probably fade away.  Christmas is strongly associated with the winter season, and to lose that change of season is to lose a lot of it.  Also, who will know how long it will take to establish the kind of community who can afford the gift giving on Christmas on a new planet.  It's going to take decades of investment to colonize planets, and they're not going to be ready for the kind of commercialism we have on parts of Earth right away.  On top of the fact many of the traditions are rooted in thinks unique to earth--snow, Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias--that recreating it all is going to be artificial, and I'm sure the first colonialists will feel that way.  Feasts won't be readily available.  Christmas, in it's entirety of the experience, will not be available.

Now I need someone from the future to tell me if my predictions are correct.


  1. Eh, I don't know about that. They celebrate Christmas in the Philippines and that place never gets snow. Does not seem to have dampened their enthusiasm much.

  2. Yes, unfortunately it is very much celebrated here in Australia, and it's just about the hottest part of the year. So obviously it has little to do with the season.

    I hope you're right that it will die out in the future, but I'm pretty sceptical about that. I'd say it depends on the cultural base of the colonists. If they're from an Anglo-Celtic, European or possibly even African cultural background, then they'll probably continue to do it, regardless of how much resources they have to put into it. If the culture has changed significantly by then, or it's from an Eastern culture, then obviously they barely celebrate Christmas, or don't at all. Essentially, even if they're not Christian, but their background is Christian in origin, then it will happen.

  3. I understand that Christmas is still celebrated when it's hot, but the idea of seasons changing in general, no matter what they're changing too, is still associated with Christmas. And more importantly, there are a lot of plants tied to the season, whether you have the tradition evergreen or a Christmas cactus. That is where I think it is going to lose a lot of it's appeal in space colonization.

  4. We don't HAVE seasons in Australia, at least not in the sense that you understand them. The Aboriginals could see that there were about 5 or 6 seasons, depending on the part of the country where they were, but those from European origins just think in terms of flipped Northern Hemisphere seasons, and they really don't apply here at all. So if you don't know what you're looking for (even 4th or 5th generation Europeans don't), you just notice, hot or not hot, more rain or less/no rain.

    There generally isn't a lot you can look for so you can say, "Ah, Autumn is starting, because the leaves are turning yellow", or, "Spring is starting, because this or that flower is blooming". There's just not much at all that shows seasonal changes, and most people don't notice them until it gets hot or cold or the rains start or stop.

    And our first settlers still celebrated Christmas on the 24th/25th of December, because that's the way they did it back home, despite the heat. I think that's how our space colonists will react as well, and they'll party and give presents as best they can, even if the presents end up being a particularly pretty rock or whatever.