There were formal religious aspects to this cult, but "Christmas is also nourished by the ties of family life, by affection for children, by a willingness to aid the needy, and even by the profitseeking activities of modem business.
The main rites of the cult are found in the midnight Mass of December 24th, the church service on Christmas Sunday, the family tree and dinner, Christmas shopping, gift giving, charity, Santa Claus' visit and the Christmas card custom...
He observed that gift giving formed a significant part of the celebratory activity: the 110 respondents to a personal inter-view gave a total of 2,969 gifts and received 1,378 gifts, a mean of 27 gifts given and 13 received.
Women were more likely than men to give ornaments, craft objects, food, plants and flowers.
Moschetti's conjectures, though intriguing, were based primarily on speculation and ignored other plausible explanations for the asymmetries he observed, for example, altruism, symbolization of inter-personal bonding, and self-effacement, among others.
In contrast to the speculative nature of Moschetti's (1979) paper, are three articles by Caplow and his associate (Caplow 1982; Caplow 1984; Caplow and Williamson 1980) based upon ethnographic data gathered during the Middletown III Project.[Middletown III was an interdisciplinary project led by Theodore Caplow (University of Virginia) and funded by the National Science Foundation.Conducted during the late 1970's, it replicated the well-known Middletown I and II studies undertaken by Robert and Helen Lynd during the 1920's and 1930's.] The earliest (Caplow and Williamson 1980) deals with the contrasting iconographics of Christmas and Easter. 224), "Christmas and Easter are each double festivals having separate secular and religious iconographics and separate religious and secular modes of celebration." Caplow and Williamson also discerned several similarities in consumption practices between the two festivals, as well.These activities are intended to banish anxiety, to enhance the present, and to secure the future (Barnett 1954, pp.129- 130)." Despite the thoroughness of Barnett's inquiry and the insights it provided on the ritual aspects of Christmas, three decades of rapid social change have now passed since Barnett's data were gathered.Christmas In Social Science Inquiry The most thorough examination of the role of Christmas in American life was undertaken by Barnett (1954).By interpreting a diversified collection of documentary evidence, Barnett traced changes in the meaning of the American Christmas festival from early Colonial days to the middle of the Twentieth Century.Moschetti extended the principle of asymmetry to "the broader community where adults donated money, toys, food and other gift items for distribution to abandoned children, children of the poor and the poor in general (Moschetti, 1979, p. He then developed propositions on the "differences in empowerment" available to various Christmas gift givers.Asymmetries in gift giving, he proposed, reflect differences in social power, with a greater quantity (and economic value) of gifts flowing from those with more social power to those with less social power.Six recent social science studies may Provide more current insights on the meaning of Christmas and consumption.The first of these, "The Christmas Potlatch..." (Moschetti 1979), examined the asymmetries of Christmas gift giving between different 'classes' of consumers, for instance, the marked tendency of parents to give greater quantities of gifts to their children, than vice versa.