armchair cultural observation since 1995

Christmas’ convoluted tangle of sacred and profane

“An essay that accompanies (Sufjan Stevens’) Silver & Gold sheds light on the ideas behind the project: ‘Christmas is a drag,’ it begins, before pondering why this culture returns every year to ‘going through the motions of merriment.’ The thesis seems to be that we sing Christmas songs as a respite from the gnawing emptiness in our lives, that we return to the holiday’s convoluted tangle of sacred and profane to grasp at something that feels like meaning.”

-Chris DeVille, in a Stereogum article “Deconstructing: Sufjan Stevens And Christian Music

I don’t really listen to too much Christmas music or Sufjan Stevens these days but I like DeVille’s take on the tension that exists in the two Christmases, the ones Christians mark on Dec. 25 and should really be celebrating for 12 days and the one that American culture obsesses over from mid-November to Dec. 25 and then promptly moves on from after the gifts are unwrapped.

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