What do you think Christmas meant to the Narnians?

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What do you think Christmas meant to the Narnians?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Dec 24, 2016 3:49 pm

It's Christmas Eve, and suddenly I got to thinking: what did the Narnians think about Christmas?

Was it mostly a seasonal holiday for merrymaking and gift exchanging, with the focal point being the arrival of Father Christmas and his gift-giving? In a sense, kind of like people in our world who celebrate Christmas in more of a secular way, focusing on the general themes of the holiday instead of the birth of Christ? (Kind of hard to imagine anything being secular in a magical world like Narnia, though.)

On the other hand, since King Frank and Queen Helen probably shared Christmas traditions with their children, do you think that elements of the Christmas story survived in Narnia? There's something wonderfully eerie about someone telling the story of the first Christmas on a winter's night in Narnia, literally a world away from where it happened. I get goosebumps thinking about it!

I feel like this question is a bit of a rabbit hole and that, like a lot of things in CoN, Lewis didn't intend for his readers to reason at length about it... but it's still fun to speculate. ;))
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Re: What do you think Christmas meant to the Narnians?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 28, 2016 5:25 pm

I think what Christmas meant to Narnians is little different to what Christmas means to the real world, for the most part. We know as Christians that Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Christ. For the vast amount of people, in the real world, who aren't Christians, unless they are antagonistic to Christ or Christmas, in some way, Christmas is mainly a time to celebrate life, sing Christmas carols, especially the more secular ones, to feast and to exchange presents.

The purists, who have also been referred to as Christmas grinches, see Christmas as a time of wastage, of gluttony and a meaningless time of frivolity. It is sometimes hard to disagree when Christmas is celebrated in the heat of Summer and not the depths of Winter. Such grinches could point to the origins of the celebration of Christmas, which early Christians purloined from the Yuletime celebrations of Saturnalia in the Roman world, which coincided with the Winter Solstice. Again, in the original Saturnalias, there was the same intent of celebrating in the depths of winter the birth of new life, even if in that time, Christ was little known, and there were elements of those Saturnalia revelries which have deservedly been dropped, after Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, after Constantine's victory at the Milvian Bridge in 323AD. Christmas Grinches, such as Ebenezer Scrooge, as in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, have often been told to "lighten up". Even in the Southern Hemisphere. :D

C.S.Lewis also makes the same points in LWW. Father Christmas doesn't give any old token presents, but meaningful presents which are of use and value to the recipients. The gift of a feast for the animals of Narnia is also deplored by that arch Christmas Grinch, the White Witch. But then, the White Witch was anti-life, and totally totalitarian. The sort of ruler who, like Oliver Cromwell, wanted everyone to live the way he thought and not the way people were comfortable with. There have been many others since, including Communists and currently among extremists of various sorts.

When Lucy goes into Narnia, she learns that there, on the other side of the Wardrobe, it is always winter and never Christmas, due to the White Witch's rule. Everyone in Narnia has to agree with the White Witch and to work for her, as her spies. The sort of food she offers isn't wholesome, but "sweeties and froth" that may very well turn into stale bread and water. Though at least water when fresh is good and wholesome.

There isn't much reference to Christmas, let alone Easter, in any of the other Narnia books. But any time to celebrate and enjoy life is a good time in Narnia to be respected, whether maying in May, a snow dance in winter or those Autumn feasts in Harfang and Tashbaan. However, much depends on what sort of celebrations these occasions might be, if they cause harm to others, and if they celebrate something which is positively horrible, such as resurrecting the White Witch, not to mention which "special" foods are on offer. I think I'd pass on Fricasee'd Marshwiggle or Man Pie. And it would turn me off, completely off, to find myself feasting on Roast Talking Stag at Christmas Dinner.

It says a lot about Narnia in the Last Battle that it ends when overwhelmed by the Calormenes with their somewhat utilitarian and exploitative view of work, who does it, and on what terms. And when Narnia is betrayed by similarly manipulative and unethical creatures within Narnia who want the world run to suit their own selfish ideas, being mindless of the needs of their fellow beings.
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Re: What do you think Christmas meant to the Narnians?

Postby PhelanVelvel » May 19, 2017 6:12 pm

It is really cool to think that Frank and Helen had told the Narnians about Christmas and started certain traditions then. I think that, whatever spirituality or religion you follow, having a merry celebration of life and happiness during the cold winter months is doubtless a good idea. I'm sure many Narnians really looked forward to that kind of celebration in the depths of winter, especially when most of them lived pretty rustic existences. They'd be mending their houses, hunting, collecting firewood, all that kind of thing, and gathering with friends and family to socialise and exchange gifts would have been a much-needed reprieve.

I think the exact meaning of Christmas would depend upon how much Frank and Helen told the Narnians to begin with, and then it may have changed over the years. For all we know, the Narnians may have tied Christmas to Aslan in some way. I always interpreted it as being a bit more secular, but then again, that is how I like to think.

"Always winter and never Christmas" to me means, kind of like Wagga said, one way of life without variation. It means all of the hardships you expect from life without any of the joys. It means "You like snow? Well, you'd better like it forever". It means "You're going to work, and work, and work, with nothing to look forward to, and you're going to like it." Wagga said the White Witch was an extremist, and that exact word describes her best. I always liked that Narnia seemed to be a place where you could live life your own way as long as you minded your own business and didn't harm anyone else in the process.
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