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HASSAN: What's the real spirit of Christmas?

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Christmas has different meanings for different people. For devout Christians of most denominations, it commemorates the birth of Christ and celebrates the benign influence he has in their lives. The child who gives Santa a list of purchases clearly sees the yuletide season in less spiritual terms.

These are the polar opposites: a solemn remembrance on the one hand contrasted with a materialistic orgy of over-consumption on the other. So what is the real spirit of Christmas, if there is one?

Conservative Christians often bemoan what Christmas has become, and insist that we should return to its true meaning. Most obviously, its name incorporates Christ, but this connection has been lost on most people for some time now. We should not delve too far into the past, lest we make too much of the pagan origins of Christmas. It........

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