Christmas can make you miserable (unless you’re Christian), study claims

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 Scientists from Germany found that the Christmas period decreases the quality of life for many Europeans, with the only exception being those who described themselves as devoutly Christian.

According to new research published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, the study interviewed respondents in the pre-Christmas period (16th – 26th of December) and then compared it to their levels of happiness and contentment in the post-Christmas period (27th – 31st of December).

It found that the period around Christmas gave people significantly less satisfaction and more negative emotions when compared to the rest of the year – unless you were Christian.

Other outliers in the study who appeared to take the festive stress in their stride were those with a higher level of education or with children at home.

Michael Mutz, the lead author of the study, suggests that the lower levels of life satisfaction around the festive period come from trying to fulfil social obligations in time, like buying gifts and attending tedious parties.

Mutz found that Christians are less likely to feel stressed by the consumer culture of the festive season, leading to greater happiness.

“People with Christian affiliation and a strong sense of religiousness celebrate Christmas differently than the majority of non-Christians,” says Mutz.

“It can be assumed that these individuals are less prone to becoming absorbed by the consumerism that precedes the holidays.”

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19 thoughts on “Christmas can make you miserable (unless you’re Christian), study claims

  1. I actually like the period. I get some public holidays and I can go to work between Christmas and New Year and all the managers are not there. I get a lot more done. 🙂

    Of course for people, Christian or otherwise, that have lost loved ones, a time when loved ones are suppose to come together may bring sadness. Also for everyone, Christians or otherwise, who suffer depression may find it harder because they are sad in a time when they are supposed to be happy.

    http://prayer-coach.com/2011/12/17/why-am-i-depressed-over-christmas/

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  2. The argument against special days is that they are given attention only once a year, rather than constantly. But better once a year than not at all, in my opinion.

    I believe in early times it was the baptism of Jesus, not his birth, that was celebrated, Epiphany, now 6th January, 12 days after December 25th. The recognition that he came into the world for everyone, not just Jews. If that were still the main celebration, would it be commercialised?

    Unfortunately yes. Introduced into Epiphany is another form of the same recognition, the Magi bringing gifts. So we can’t escape it.

    I don’t like the idea of children receiving gifts and themselves not giving. They can easily be encouraged to give flowers, or pass food or sweets around. Thought for others, sharing, is in the right spirit, I think.

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  3. For some people the Christmas period can be a time of high stress. While for many families, Christmas is a time for celebration, relaxing and holidays, it is also the most likely time of the year for many people to experience anxiety and depression, particularly those who are divorced, have experienced a death in the family or are socially isolated. People can also feel increased financial pressure from the costs of buying gifts, entertaining and holidays, and there can be added strain from spending time with family members. For those people with complex family structures, Christmas can present even greater challenges.

    Studies conducted over the past decade confirm a range of negative effects on health and wellbeing associated with the Christmas period, including a spike in death rates around Christmas. However, while there is a greater chance of dying on Christmas Day, the day after Christmas or New Year’s Day than any other single day of the year, contrary to popular belief, rates of suicide do not increase at Christmas time. Higher death rates at Christmas have been associated with disease and natural causes, with research suggesting that higher death rates may be due to stress and loneliness exacerbating existing conditions and people being slower to seek medical treatment in the holiday period (APPC, 2010).
    http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/research/online-survey/december-2014-family-stress-at-christmas-time

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  4. Christmas is a family time. Extended family, in-laws you can’t stand, ex-partners who come with your shared children, your partner’s exes and their shared children. It all adds up to stress.

    If you are a recovering alcoholic you could fall off the wagon beforehand, to avoid the prospect. Many families dread Christmas, perhaps the one time of the year they have a chance to reunite with family, spoiled because of this.

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    • Our society is growing in the disease of effort. The effort leading to success and many hours of running around. We are time poor, relationship poor and stress rich. Add the things you mentioned, personal issues, money problems and you have a recipe for a tough time.

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  5. People in Industrialized World Feel More
    Stressed than Those in Developing Countries

    By CAROL PEARSON
    Washington, D.C.
    VOA News

    Stress — a feeling of anxiety caused by such things as having too many demands, not enough time, too little money, and too many creditors is all too common in industrialized countries.

    A new poll shows that about three-fourths of people in the United States and Canada, some countries of Western Europe, South Korea and Australia say they feel stress on a daily basis.

    Many of those surveyed say they feel their lives are beyond their control. The wealthiest people often cite their jobs as the leading source of their stress. Those with the lowest incomes say it is lack of money.Finances are a major cause of stress.

    Psychologist David Shern describes the U.S. as a nation under stress. “The majority of Americans are struggling to find a balance among the multitude of challenges that they have in their busy lives.”

    The number one stressor for Americans? Finances, jobs and health. But long commutes, heavy traffic and long working hours are also factors…………

    A number of studies show stress is increasing around the world as other countries adopt Western lifestyles and work habits. Mental health advocates are calling for better mental health care, but they are also advising people to evaluate the causes of their stress and to reduce it by changes in lifestyle and increasing exercise.http://www.contactomagazine.com/articles/stress0107.htm

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  6. In the December edition of ‘Challenge, the Good News Paper’:

    CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS DEFINE US

    Christmas is a time of intentional expressions of our humanity – when friends, family, and communities come together in peace and love.

    We ask ourselves: How should I spend my Christmas this year? What presents should I give to my family and friends? Should I decorate my house? How can I show kindness and love to others this Christmas?

    Many of our decisions are directed at bringing joy to ourselves and to others.

    While these are important decisions, we can be entirely consumed with our expressions of humanity (through love, kindness, community, etc.) without first asking ourselves some far more basic questions. What does it mean to be human? What defines me as a human being? What is the purpose of living?

    If you doubt the relevance of these big questions, I assure you that all of us have answers to them whether intentional, assumed, or ingrained in us by our social context. And whatever answers we have will affect the way we view life and the way we behave.

    So what has this got to do with Christmas? You may be familiar with the Christmas story of Christ Jesus born to the virgin Mary and her husband Joseph, but perhaps you have not realised that this story makes claims concerning the biggest questions of human life.

    Cosmic Implications: The Christmas narrative makes amazing claims about ultimate reality: God exists, He can be known, and He has already made Himself known through Jesus Christ. If these claims are true, then cosmic implications of a grand scale will logically follow.

    In the delightful story of baby Jesus we’re really talking about the most powerful, perfectly good, and inconceivably great being coming down to earth as a man to interact with mankind on an intimate level.

    Christ came for a purpose, which was to redeem mankind from the effects of their rebellion against Himself, which the Bible calls sin. His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross in the place of mankind brought peace and reconciliation between God and man. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross followed by His bodily resurrection marked the defeat of sin and death (the ultimate effect of sin), a status which is yet to be fully realised.

    Personal Implications: What we believe about God shapes everything else that we believe to be true and the way we act.

    For example, our beliefs concerning God dictate our perceptions of truth, morality, and purpose. Our perceptions of truth, morality, and purpose shape our values and priorities, which then ultimately influences our behaviour.

    The Christmas story tells us who we are as human beings. Right and wrong, good and evil exist objectively (beyond mere personal or social preference) and humanity has failed and continues to fail to uphold what is right. We were made in the image of the perfectly good God and chose to reject Him. We are creatures who require saving, and so a Saviour was born to rescue us – Jesus Christ.

    In union with Jesus by faith, we are loved, forgiven, accepted, and freed. He takes our penalty and guilt, we are made right in His sight and we enjoy everlasting life with God. This is how we perceive ourselves as Christians and forms an element of our worldview. (Perhaps more accurately, it’s the way God perceives His children which is independent of our own feelings and perceptions). Inevitably, our perceptions of who we are, our identities, affect our attitudes and our everyday decisions and actions.

    Ask the Important Questions

    As Christmas approaches with all its lights and attractions remember that the story of the birth of Jesus is not just a story because it makes claims concerning ultimate reality. In doing so, implications emerge that range from the cosmic level to the personal level of everyday life.

    Perhaps a good Christmas present to receive would be the ability to ask the right questions about Christmas– the most important questions.

    Is Christmas a celebration of a truth that holds infinite importance, or is the birth of Jesus of no importance at all?

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    • Jesus Christ is the centre of the Church life. God’s definition of His son is totally faith defined. Our faith in God is never complete without a relationship with Jesus, (Heb 12:2). To be completely satisfied and full, we need to receive God’s word (Jesus) into our hearts, (Col 2:10).

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  7. Apologies, but I’ve had a gut-full of Pharisaical Christians too.

    YOU KNOW IT IS CHRISTMAS (When All the Pharisees Come Out)

    They have a real sense of their own self-importance. They think they are spiritually superior to others. They will judge and condemn others for doing things that they won’t do, or for not doing things that they do. They are purists, but follow manmade rules of purity.

    They are, in a word, Pharisees. And let me tell you, Pharisees are alive and well in today’s church just as much as they were back in the days of Jesus and his ministry. And they are a plague today just as they were back then. In addition to having the typical “holier-than-thou” attitude, they are legalists, trying to force all believers to observe their manmade rules and regulations.

    I say all this because we know Christmas is coming early – I have already had to deal with these misguided brethren who attack you and condemn you if you dare to mention the ‘C’ word. I have already had to unfriend some whackos who insist that if we celebrate the birth of Jesus we are on a par with devil worshipers.

    They really are arrogant, clueless wonders who would make the Pharisees of old real proud. Indeed, there is nothing at all virtuous or Christlike about these confused believers who actually gloat and revel in their ignorance of all things theological, biblical, and historical.

    They simply demonstrate their lack of humility and Christian grace. And covering up their ignorance with pseudo-spirituality is all very off-putting as well. I grow a bit tired of such folks to be honest. They are purists who condemn fellow Christians, and they are new legalists, the very sort that Paul and others regularly condemned.

    But that does not stop these Pharisees from going on the attack. No, their minds are made up, and no amount of evidence – both historical and biblical – will change their minds. They simply emote their way through life, attacking everyone and everything, instead of using their minds for the glory of God.

    As such, most of these folks are unreachable, and I advise against wasting too much time with them. These new legalists do not seem to like freedom in Christ, and want to put us all under new yokes of manmade legalism – all in their spurious efforts to remain “uncontaminated” from the world. Well I have news for these guys: the only way they will be so “pure” is if they move into a cave somewhere.

    Every day they “contaminate” themselves with worldliness and paganism. When they fill the car with petrol, they may well have a pagan taking their money. When they deal with a checkout chick at a grocery store, she may be a Satanist. When they buy a loaf of bread they may be doing business with a raving New Ager.

    We cannot avoid coming into contact with pagans and imbibing, at least indirectly, with all sorts of non-Christian practices, beliefs and activities. That is what we would expect as we live in a fallen world, and seek to reach out to our non-Christian neighbours. As one US friend said elsewhere:

    “Once again the season has come in which legalistic Christians try to come off superior to everyone else, by harrumphing that “Christmas is pagan!” If you choose to be paranoid, you can find pagan connections in ANYTHING. The first violins were invented by pagans, so if you allow a violin to be played in church, you’re a pagan. Potatoes were first cultivated by pagans, so if you eat a potato, you’re a pagan. The Latin alphabet was created by pagans, so if you WRITE anything using the alphabet that the English language uses, you’re a pagan.”

    Quite so. Let me conclude by saying that if you think I am pushing antinomianism or license here, you obviously know nothing about me. In my 3500+ articles, I would have penned hundreds arguing for a holy, cruciform life, warning against lawlessness and license.

    As always we must find the biblical balance, and avoid unbiblical extremes. The idea that we can live like the devil because we are saved by grace is one such extreme to be avoided at all costs. But so too is the new legalism that would put us all under bondage of manmade rules and regulations. Both are wrong and both must be avoided like the plague.

    In sum, let me say this with the full authority of Jesus and Paul: If you want to celebrate the birth of our Saviour at Christmas, go right ahead. If you don’t want to, that is fine as well. But what is not fine is to judge and condemn your brothers and sisters in Christ if they do that which differs from your own convictions on this matter.

    As soon as you start judging them and condemning them for their choices, you are no longer walking in love or Christian grace. You have then become a Pharisee, and for that, you need to repent.

    Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch
    Published: 28.11.15

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    • Good words.
      Do not be stumbling block for your brothers and sisters in Christ but speak the truth.
      Some become Christians and are freed from sin only to become a slave to the law.

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  8. Love, the Essence of Christmas
    Love came down at Christmas;
    Love all lovely, love divine;
    Love was born at Christmas,
    Stars and angels gave the sign.
    —Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)

    Christmas is a time to renew bonds of love. It’s a wonderful time when loved ones can show appreciation for each other. It’s also a great time to use that love to build bridges of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. —Shelley Landon

    I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow pas-sengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. —Charles Dickens (1812–1870)

    Christmas is best enjoyed when it isn’t centered on decorations, gifts, or festivities, but when love is at its core. Love is the essence of Christmas. Christmas should mean taking quality time with your family and friends. It’s about cherishing and celebrating the love you share. —Jesus

    O little Babe of Bethlehem, though You lie so still, You awaken in us the joy, love, and peace that You wish to spread throughout the world. —Author unknown

    Christmas is a time to see the world through the eyes of love. It’s a time to remember that the world is made up of people like us and to see them for who they are inside. All have problems like we do, no matter who they are or where they come from. —Maria Fontaine

    Every day is like Christmas for us because Jesus is so good to us every day, but this time is extra special because He pours out His love in extra measure. We feel His love from loved ones, acquaintances, and even strangers. There’s just something about Jesus’ birthday that turns people’s hearts and minds to peace and love and goodwill. It brings out the best in everyone because it brings Jesus out, and He’s the best!—David Brandt Berg (1919–1994)

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    • alexie on December 6, 2015 at 09:36 said:
      Christmas is best enjoyed when it isn’t centered on decorations, gifts, or festivities, but when love is at its core. Love is the essence of Christmas. Christmas should mean taking quality time with your family and friends. It’s about cherishing and celebrating the love you share. —Jesus

      Would that be Jesus of Nazareth, now? I do agree, whoever it is you’re quoting.

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  9. Colossians 1:15-20
    He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For. . . all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

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  10. Christmas celebration in Germany
    In Germany, preparations for Christmas begin before December falls. But the real celebration starts from 6th December, St. Nicholas Day, known here as “Nikolaustag”. On the night of 5th December (St. Nicholas Eve) children put their shoe or boot outside the door, a tradition practiced in many other European countries. According to a German legend, the spirit of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, goes from house to house on this night carrying a book of sins in which all the actions of the year of all children are written. It is said that St. Nicholas fills the shoes of all good kids with delicious treats and places twigs in the shoes of all naughty children.

    During Advent, advent wreaths (made of Holly flowers) are placed on a table and four red candles are placed in the center of it. One of these candles is lit on each Sunday preceding Christmas and the last one is lighted on Christmas Eve. Advent calendars, containing pictures beneath each window, are used by kids to count the days until Christmas.

    The Christmas tree is an integral part of German Christmas celebrations. It should be kept in mind that the Christmas tree actually originated in Germany.
    image: http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/worldxmas/images/christmas-in-germany.jpg

    Christmas market in Stuttgart, GermanyA unique aspect of the German Christmas decorations is that, kids can not take part in the beautification of the Christmas tree. It is believed that the tree has some mysterious spell for all young eyes that rest on it before Christmas Eve. Hence, the Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve, prior to the evening feast. The father usually keeps the children in a seperate room while the mother brings out the Christmas tree from a hidden place and decorates it with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, cars, trains, angels, tinsel, family treasures and candles or lights. The gifts are kept under the tree. Nearby, beautiful plates are laid for each family member and filled with fruits, nuts, marzipan, chocolate and biscuits. The decorations finished, a bell is rung as a signal for the children to enter the room. The Christmas story is usually read during this time and carols are sung. Often, sparklers are lit and gifts opened too.

    Read more at http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/worldxmas/germany.htm#KViLd2saCkIXOo6O.99

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  11. In a Christian refugee camp in northern Iraq, a special tent stands out as a reminder of those keeping the faith alive in the midst of persecution.

    Refugees erected a tent for Jesus in preparation for the Christmas holiday, the celebration of which will likely be tinged with sadness as the Islamic State continues its attack on Christians, Yazidis and others in its path in Iraq and Syria who disagree with its ideology.

    Even so, Canon Andrew White, who leads St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, said in a recent HuffPost blog that there is still room for hope for Iraqi Christians celebrating the holiday. Despite the sadness and trauma imprinted on the hearts of many, Christmas offers a message about God’s love that not even the Islamic State can wipe out.

    “I will never forget the day in Baghdad when we had some visitors,” White wrote.

    They had come to see what it was really like for Christians in Iraq. They were so surprised by how happy the thousands of people were in our congregation. ‘How can you be so happy when you are surrounded [by] suicide bombs, mortar’s rockets and such violence?’ One of our young people answered the statement. ‘You see when you have lost everything, Jesus is all you have got left.’
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2014/12/24/christmas-iraq-isis_n_6335022.html?ir=Australia

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