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Christmas gifts should show love, not buy love — Primate

15 November 2013


THE pressure to buy expensive Christmas presents puts pressure on relationships and "spoils life", the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Tuesday.

This month, the Government-backed Money Advice Service published the results of a survey of 2000 people, which suggested that almost one in ten were still paying off debts from spending last Christmas. Its research suggests that one in four people spends more than he or she can afford at Christmas, while one in five feels obliged to buy his or her children this year's 'must have' present.

Speaking on The Martin Lewis Money Show: 12 saves of Christmas on ITV on Tuesday, Archbishop Welby said: "Obviously the secular over-the-topness, everything you have to have, new clothes you have to have, new this, new that, new the other, is ridiculous: it's absurd; it shouldn't happen. It puts pressure on relationships because, when you're short of money you argue.You get cross with your kids more easily; it spoils life."

He admitted that it was a "cliché" to speak of the materialism of Christmas, and demurred from suggesting that people should stop giving gifts: "It's obviously not what Christmas is about, but, to be absolutely honest, there's not that much point in saying it, because nobody's going to pay attention."

He did not feel guilty about the accumulation of debt during a Christian festival because "the Christian bit of Christmas isn't the bit that's getting people into debt."

His message was a "positive" one: "God gives us his Son, Jesus Christ, to give us life and full life and abundant life. Giving at Christmas reflects that generosity of God. So be generous in a way that shows love and affection rather than trying to buy love and affection.

"You can't buy it: you can show it; and when you show it, it comes back at you with interest. Save up for the Christmas budget, be sensible, don't put pressure on your finances - don't make your life miserable with Christmas. Share love and affection with reasonable gifts that demonstrate you really care for someone. That makes for the best Christmas you could ever have."

Last week, Martin Lewis, who runs the website MoneySaving-

Expert, told the Parliamentary Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee that payday-loan ad-

vertisements should be banned from being shown during children's television programmes. He said that payday lenders were "in danger of grooming a new generation to this type of borrowing".

The call was taken up by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, this week.

On Tuesday, the Times journalist Robert Crampton argued that the Archbishop's comments failed to take into account that Christmas-related business provided half of annual turnover for one third of British retailers: "Many livelihoods are at stake at this time of year."

"Besides, we want to spoil our loved ones, often using money we haven't quite got," he wrote.


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