The religious emblems of the festival include: "the manger with its surrounding animals, the star of Bethelem, the shepherds and their flocks, and the three kings bearing gifts (Caplow and Williamson 1980, pp.
224- 225)." In a second paper based upon the Middletown III data, Caplow (1982) investigated the pattern of gift giving during the Christmas season.
Six recent social science studies may Provide more current insights on the meaning of Christmas and consumption.
The first of these, "The Christmas Potlatch..." (Moschetti 1979), examined the asymmetries of Christmas gift giving between different 'classes' of consumers, for instance, the marked tendency of parents to give greater quantities of gifts to their children, than vice versa.
Each is associated with a vacation from normal labor; each requires gift exchange activities and the exchange of cards, and each involves family reunions culminating in a celebratory family meal.
The Christmas festival is associated with a rich set of secular and sacred symbols: "Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the holly wreath, mistletoe, and the poinsettia; snow and reindeer; hearths, chimneys and stockings; the yule log; egg nogs and hot toddies; ribbons and bows; tinsel and stars; roast turkey and roast goose; carols and caroling; the major color combination of red and green" compose the secular symbol set.
Men gave most of the appliances and sports equipment.
Females were disproportionately active gift givers. Alone or jointly, they gave 84 percent of all the gifts and received only 61 percent.
and takes precedence over ordinary forms of work and leisure (Caplow 1984, pp.
13061307)", it has received almost no attention in the consumer behavior literature, or, indeed, in the social sciences generally. 383), author of two of the seven [Although several investigators have examined the iconography of Santa Claus (see Belk 1987 for a review), few have examined the festival of Christmas, per se.] social science investigations of Christmas we reviewed noted, "An ethnographer who discovered so important a ritual in some exotic culture might he tempted to make it the centerpiece of his cultural description; it is remarkable that social scientists have given so little attention to this conspicuous cluster of symbolic and practical acts." The investigation of Christmas ties together several diverse strands of research inquiry within consumer research.