Santa Helpers; Christmas Tradition

A Thinking Allowed special on our construction of Christmas tradition. What does Christmas mean to you - a visit to Santa's grotto with the little ones, the opening of presents before breakfast, a house festooned with sparkly lights and wreaths of ivy? Or is your Christmas an understated and low key affair? Perhaps you don't even recognise it for cultural or religious reasons.

Professor Philip Hancock discusses his study into the 'elite' squad of Santa helpers who dispense seasonal cheer and gifts to children in department stores up and down the country. How do they maintain their 'ho, ho hos' in the face of 500 length queues? What special challenges does this unique branch of interactive service work present? Also, Professor Jennifer Mason talks about her research into how people create the Christmas experience, drawing on the rituals of their childhoods and negotiating conflicting traditions. The writer, Antony Lerman, joins the discussion.

Producer: Jayne Egerton.

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28 minutes

Last on

Christmas Day 2013 16:00

Philip Hancock

Professor of Work and Organisation at the University of Essex Business School



Find out more about Dr Philip Hancock



Abstract: ‘Being Santa Claus’: The Pursuit of Recognition in Interactive Service Work’

Work Employment and Society April 15, 2013

doi: 10.1177/0950017012461836

Jennifer Mason

Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Morgan Centre for Study of Relationships and Personal Life, University of Manchester



Find out more about Jennifer Mason



Abstract: Conjuring up traditions: atmospheres, eras and family Christmases

Jennifer Mason, Stewart Muir

The Sociological Review

Volume 61, Issue 3, pages 607–629, August 2013

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2012.02138.x

Antony Lerman

Writer and former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research



Find out more about Antony Lerman



A very Jewish Christmas

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