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Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas and Class Struggle

On the day of the office party it's good to see Keith Flett in today's Morning Star having a look at the nineteenth century social origins of our Christmas "traditions" (

The evolution of the Christmas which we all now know was the product of specific social circumstances of the mid-nineteenth century (also the period in which contemporary gender roles solidified, and in which the labour movement emerged and found some stability). Flett points out that, Christmas as a celebration all but died out after the 1640s and that it was "reinvented for commercial reasons and to co-opt working-class alternatives."

He also, rightly, points out that the festival became part of a process whereby workers began to obtain additional leisure time (even if bank holidays had to wait until the 1870s).

The driving force of the struggle of working people to improve our conditions of existence is all too easily obscured - and I think we should be more eager to claim, which is true, that the Christmas holidays are a product of trade union struggle.

Every day we have off work we have because someone before us fought for it. I hope, this Christmas, our movement lives up to that legacy.

Season's Greetings to you all (particularly regular readers Sid and Doris Blogger).

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1 comment:

Bill King said...

Don't think Christmas so much "died out" in the 1640's as was banned by Parliament. Personally I would leave it that way.