Queen's University

War on Christmas


Queen's University adjunct professor of English Heather Evans is available to talk about the war on Christmas -- religious observance vs. secular revelry.

"Discussions about Christmas celebrations typically revolve around distinctions between religious observance and secular revelry, and between a so-called traditional celebration and a commercial spectacle. Yet it is worth remembering, during a season steeped in romantic nostalgia, that for most, if not all of its history, the feast of Christmas has been bound up with supposedly unsavoury matters of social rank, economics, and politics," says Dr. Evans.

Dr. Evans is available to speak about Christmas feasting and festivities, and the myth of the “traditional” Christmas, particularly since the nineteenth century. Dr. Evans is also available to speak about the history of festive traditions and Christmas culinary delights, the reassurance we derive from our seasonal return to the past, and the significance of holiday feasting and food rituals. Dr. Evans’ research interests include nineteenth-century literature and food and culinary history. Please note Dr. Evans is available for phone interviews only.

Here are some other experts from Queen’s University who are available to talk about various Christmas-related stories.

Nick Bala
Holiday planning for separating, divorced and blended families
Family law expert Nick Bala can discuss issues associated with custody, access and parenting arrangements at this time of year. With the holiday season approaching lawyers, mediators, counsellors and judges see a flood of separating and divorced parents attempting to settle a range of issues related to parenting over the holidays. According to Professor Bala, the parents in front of a judge are those who have the most difficulty co-operating; questions may be asked whether they thinking most about their children or themselves? What steps should separated parents take to deal with issues around the holidays, to increase their children's happiness and reduce stress on themselves? On a systemic level, should Canadian be adopting new concepts and approaches to better resolve issues between separated parents?

Jay Handelman
Socially conscious gift buyers
School of Business marketing professor, Jay Handelman, can discuss the socially-responsible marketing tactics and the impact such tactics have on consumers. He can also offer gift suggestions to the socially-conscious consumer. Dr. Handelman was the founding director of Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Queen’s University School of Business. His research and teaching interests centre on ways in which marketers integrate emotional, social, and cultural dimensions into their product/service and corporate marketing strategies.

Robert Ross
Staying healthy during the holidays
The holidays are a time of year when indulging in Christmas treats should be offset by exercise and healthy eating. Professor Robert Ross can provide comments on how to achieve that balance. Dr. Ross is an expert on childhood and adult obesity, and he is currently leading a $1.8-million study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) on the effects of exercise on excess abdominal fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Ross is available after December 12.

Jill Scott
Forgiveness during the holidays
Professor Jill Scott studies forgiveness and reconciliation and can talk about how to manage conflict in times of stress, and about the changing nature of forgiveness in a secular age. She is the author of A Poetics of Forgiveness: Cultural Responses to Loss and Wrongdoing.
"People sometimes dread the holidays because of family conflict. If I haven't spoken a civil word to my brother in five years, do I really want to sit at the dinner table with him? This is a time when people are more likely to want to forgive and forget. But it is also a time when conflict is more likely,” says Dr. Scott. She can talk about the many practical ways to approach conflict and forgiveness during the holidays.

Ken Wong
Buying gifts in tough economic (and Occupy Wall Street) times
School of Business marketing professor Ken Wong is a retailing expert and can talk about the mood of shoppers this Christmas season.
“The best Christmas gifts are supposed to be things that someone wants but would never buy for themselves….or should that say ‘could never afford to buy for themselves.’ Then again, some say it isn’t the size or value of the gift but the thought and feeling behind it. Should I make something or buy it? Should I buy a lot of little things or one big gift? Which sentiment will prevail this year?” says Professor Wong. “In this year of uncertain economics, growing disparities in the geography of economic growth, the Occupy Wall Street movement and a luxury segment that consistently outgrew other price points throughout the recession the answer isn’t clear. While we do know Canadians expect to spend slightly more on gifts this year everyone is warning against the perils of buying on credit. What impact will factors like this have on how we express our Yuletide spirits?”

John Young
The role of Christmas in Christianity
School of Religion assistant professor John Young is available to discuss the religious significance and history of Christmas.
“Christmas and Easter are the two most significant holy days for Christians. Easter was a holy day or festival that Christians celebrated virtually from the beginning of Christianity as a religious movement, but the recognition of Christmas, as a special day, came later,” says Professor Young. “The Bible does not give specific dates for events in Jesus’ life, and the first several generations of Christians did not show a particular interest in the timing of specific events of Jesus’ life, such as his birth. At some point in the second century of the Common Era, January 6, a day Christians call Epiphany, began to become a special day for Christians to celebrate Jesus’ birth, his baptism, and the beginning of his ministry. In the fourth century, December 25 began to be associated with Jesus’ birth; January 6 then began to be linked to Jesus’ baptism among Christians in the East and to the visit of the magi (or the wise men) among Western Christians.”
Professor Young’s research interests include the history of Christianity and the church in Canada. 

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.ca or Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or Anne.Craig@queensu.ca at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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Last updated at 3:43 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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