Give affection urges archbishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged families not to make their lives "miserable" at Christmas by attempting to keep up with "ridiculous" and "absurd" pressures to spend money.
The Most Rev Justin Welby admitted it was a "cliche of modern life" to complain about materialism at Christmas but he said the "over-the-top" consumerism of the festive season was putting relationships under strain.
He said families should show "love and affection" rather than trying to buy it, in an interview with The Martin Lewis Money Show, to be broadcast tomorrow night on ITV.
"It's a cliche of modern life that someone gets up and says Christmas is becoming very materialistic as though it wasn't 300 years ago," the archbishop said.
"Yes 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."
The archbishop said that if he suggested that people should stop giving Christmas gifts, no-one would listen.
"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 said.
He denied that he felt guilty that some people get into debt over Christmas, while it is supposed to be a Christian festival.
"No, it doesn't make me feel guilty at all because the Christian bit of Christmas isn't the bit that's getting people into debt. It's the whole mercantile trading shopping over-the-topness, so I don't feel guilty about it," he said.
He added that he wanted to put across a "positive message" about the "generosity" of God who gave his his son Jesus Christ.
"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," he said.
"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."
The archbishop's remarks come after he criticised pay day lenders, including Wonga, who offer high interest short- term loans to people on low incomes. The archbishop backed credit unions which he said should drive the pay day lenders out of business.
:: The Martin Lewis Money Show: 12 Saves of Christmas, featuring tips on how to make cash go further at Christmas, ITV 8pm Tuesday November 12.