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圣诞节,是很多西方国家最重要的节日。这一天代表着阖家团圆,光彩夺目的圣诞街灯,多种多样的圣诞礼物,高大的圣诞树……

但你知道吗,在一开始,圣诞节可不是这样一片祥和的气氛,而是一场粗俗的狂欢!

那么圣诞节的气氛到底是什么时候开始改变的呢?一起来跟随Economist的记者K.W.一起来看看吧!

THERE were no neatly wrapped presents. Nor were there tinselled trees or Santa Claus. Christmas in preindustrial Europe and America looked very different from today's iteration.

在那个久远的年代,并没有现在这样包装地整整齐齐的礼物,也没有这样金灿灿的圣诞树或者是圣诞老人。在前工业时期的欧洲和美国,那时的圣诞节与现在相比简直是天差地别。

Drunks, cross-dressers and rowdy carollers roamed the streets. The tavern, rather than the home or the church, was the place to celebrate. "Men dishonour Christ more in the twelve days of Christmas, than in all the twelve months besides,"—so despaired Hugh Latimer, chaplain to King Edward VI, in the mid-1500s.

那时候,满大街都游荡着醉酒的人、穿着奇装异服或者是扯着嗓门大声唱歌的人。而大家狂欢的场所,也不是现在的家庭或者是教堂(对于信教的人来说,圣诞节的教堂是最理想的地方),而是各种酒馆、客栈。16世纪中叶,爱德华六世的牧师休•拉蒂默曾这样绝望地说道:“人们在圣诞节放假的这12天里对基督的羞辱,远比在其他12个月来得多!”

Some 200 years later, across the Atlantic, a Puritan minister decried the "lewd gaming" and "rude revelling" of Christmastime in the colonies. Those concerns seem irrelevant now. By the end of the 19th century, a rambunctious, freewheeling holiday had turned into the peaceable, family-centred one we know today. How?

大约在200年之后,在大西洋的彼岸,一位清教徒牧师强烈谴责了殖民地区在圣诞节期间的那些“淫荡游戏”和“粗俗狂欢”。在现在看来,这些担忧似乎是无关紧要的事情。到了19世纪末,像这样的一个闹哄哄、随心所欲的圣诞狂欢节,已经变成了我们今天熟知的宁静祥和、以家庭为中心的节日了。这样的改变是怎么发生的呢?

In early modern Europe, between about 1500 and 1800, the Christmas season meant a lull in agricultural labour and a chance to indulge. The harvest had been gathered and the animals slaughtered (the cold weather meant they would not spoil). The celebration involved heavy eating, drinking and wassailing, in which peasants would arrive at the houses of the neighbouring gentry and demand to be fed.

原来,在早期现代的欧洲,大概是在1500年到1800年之间,圣诞节就意味着辛苦的农业劳动终于告一段落,这是个放纵的好机会。每年的这个时候,要收割的庄稼已经全部收好了,牲畜也已经被宰杀好了(因为寒冷的冬天里,这些肉不会变质)。在这之后,庆祝活动就开始了,包括大吃大喝、开怀痛饮,农民们会来到附近乡绅的家中讨要一些食物。

One drinking song captured the mood: "And if you don't open up your door, / We will lay you flat upon the floor." Mostly this was tolerated in good humour—a kind of ritualised disorder, when the social hierarchy was temporarily inverted.

那时的一首饮酒歌大概是这样表述的:“如果你不开门,我们就把你放倒在地上!”在大多数情况下,这种情况在那时混乱的仪式感中,是可以被容忍的,因为当时的社会阶层是暂时性的颠倒状态。

Some were less tolerant. In colonial Massachusetts, between 1659 and 1681, Puritans banned Christmas. They expunged the day from their almanacs, and offending revellers risked a five-shilling fine. The ban did not last, so efforts to tame the holiday picked up instead. Moderation was advised.

但有些人就没有那么宽容了。在1659年至1681年期间,在美国的殖民地马萨诸塞州,清教徒被明令禁止过任何形式的圣诞节。他们把这一天从年历中删去,而违反者可能会被罚款5先令。这个禁令并没有持续多久,取而代之的是改造圣诞节的新思路。这个新思路提倡大家要适度庆祝。

One almanac-writer cautioned in 1761 that "The temperate man enjoys the most delight, / For riot dulls and palls the appetite." Still, Christmas was a public ritual, enacted in the tavern or street and often fuelled by alcohol.

在1761年,一位年鉴作家告诫说,“有节制的人最快乐,因为花天酒地会让人食欲不振。”尽管如此,圣诞节在这个时候仍然是一种在酒馆或者大街上举办的公共仪式,而这种气氛场常常会用酒精助燃。

That soon changed. Cities had expanded at the turn of the 19th century to absorb the growing number of factory workers. Vagrancy and urban poverty were by now common. Rowdiness at Christmas could turn violent, with bands of drunken men roaming the streets.

It's little surprise that members of the upper classes saw a threat in the festivity.

但这种情况很快就被改变了。在19世纪末期,城市开始迅速扩张,以吸收越来越多的工厂工人。流浪人口以及城市中的贫困已经越来越普遍。这种时候,圣诞节的喧闹很可能演变成街头的暴力行动,因为会有成群结对的醉汉在大街上游荡。所以,也难怪那些上层社会的人们会在这种节日中感受到威胁了。

In his study of the holiday, Stephen Nissenbaum, a historian, credits a group of patrician writers and editorialists in America with recasting it as a domestic event. They refashioned European traditions, like Christmas trees from Germany and Christmas boxes from England, in which the wealthy would present cash or leftovers to their servants.

历史学家斯蒂芬·尼森鲍姆(Stephen Nissenbaum)在研究这个节日时,盛赞了一群美国的贵族作家和社论家,称他们把这个节日重新定义为一项国内的节日活动。他们重塑了欧洲的传统,比如德国的圣诞树习俗和英国的送圣诞礼盒的习俗,这里的礼盒是指富人会把现金或剩下来的饭菜送给仆人。

St Nicholas, or Santa Claus, whose December name day coincided with the Christmas season, became the holiday's mascot. Clement Clarke Moore's poem "A Visit from St Nicholas", first publised in 1823, helped popularise his image. In it, a jolly Santa descends via reindeer-pulled sleigh to surprise children with presents on Christmas Eve.

圣·尼古拉斯,也就是我们熟知的圣诞老人,以他的名字命名的圣·尼古拉斯日正好与圣诞节的时期相重合,所以他理所应当地变成了圣诞节的吉祥物。克莱门特·克拉克·摩尔(Clement Clarke Moore)于1823年首次出版的诗歌《圣尼古拉的来访》(A Visit from St Nicholas),帮助圣诞老人提升了形象。在圣诞夜,一个快乐的圣诞老人乘坐着驯鹿雪橇,给孩子们带来圣诞礼物。

Newspapers also played their part. "Let all avoid taverns and grog shops for a few days," advised the New York Herald in 1839. Better to focus on"the domestic hearth, the virtuous wife, the innocent, smiling, merry-hearted children."

报纸也发挥了它们独特的作用。1839年,《纽约先驱报》(New York Herald)曾建议:“我们都在这几天里远离酒馆和烈酒店吧。”最好将注意力放在“家里的壁炉旁,贤惠的妻子,天真的、微笑的、快乐的孩子身上。”

It was a triumph of middle-class values, and a coup for shop-owners. "Christmas is the merchant's harvest time," one industry magazine enthused in 1908. "It is up to him to garner in as big a crop of dollars as he can." Soon this new Christmas would become a target of criticism in its own right: as commercialised and superficial.

这是中产阶级价值观的胜利,也是商店店主的胜利。1908年,一本行业杂志热情地写道:“圣诞节是商人的收获季。他们要靠这个节日尽可能多地大赚一笔钱。”所以很快地,这种新形式的圣诞节又成为了批评的对象:人们指责它过度商业化和肤浅。

Nevertheless it lives on.

不过尽管如此,它仍然继续存在着。

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