Abstract and Keywords
The Anglican tradition had a particular role to play in the elevation of Christmas, moving it from a contested liturgical and cultural day, to a publicly celebrated festival and season—a status that has now become thoroughly pervasive in most cultures. Episcopalians in the United States in the first quarter of the nineteenth century were prominent in the promotion of Christmas as a festival that celebrated family life, gifts, and new forms of social cohesion, and that departed from the rather rowdier commemorations of the feast in previous generations. In the twentieth century, aspects of Christmas—such as the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge—have showcased the adaptive hybridity of Anglican worship, and its capacity to engage with wider audiences beyond mere denominational membership. The synergies of Christianity and culture that are present in many contemporary celebrations of Christmas are rooted in Anglican polity—especially the pragmatic and pastoral ethos of its incarnational theological tradition. There are even traces of this to be found in the identity of Santa Claus.
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