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Jekels, L. (1936). The Psychology of the Festival of Christmas. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:57-72.

(1936). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17:57-72

The Psychology of the Festival of Christmas

Ludwig Jekels

I trust that you are not entertaining too high expectations of this present contribution, for I can assure you it is a quite unpretentious study.

In order that you may not be disappointed, I must preface what I have to say by explaining that, in the problem with which I have attempted to deal, there are, as it were, three possible cross-sections: psycho-analytical, historical and religious. In order to do justice to all three I should require at least as many months as I have had weeks of preparation. In the picture which I present to you there is therefore, if I may so put it, considerable foreshortening.

For this reason my treatment of the psycho-analytical section is subject to somewhat unusual restrictions: I have had to stop short in the middle stratum. For, in order to go deeper, it would be absolutely necessary to link up this theme with the whole body of Christlore, and this would carry us far outside the scope of the present paper.

Those of you who are psycho-analysts will, I fear, inevitably experience some disappointment at the outset.

When we come to the historical section I feel some doubt in my own mind whether the relations which I have tried to demonstrate really exist largely in my own phantasy. So far as I am aware, our material rests upon no firm historical basis and therefore it is extraordinarily difficult to ascertain with any certainty whether the course of events actually was as I have depicted it, or whether it merely might have been so. I am quite prepared for the historians amongst you to

Immediately after the reading of this paper, which was written for the Christmas season, I was informed of Erich Fromm's paper 'Die Entwicklung des Christusdogmas' (Imago, Bd. XVI, 1930), of the existence of which I had hitherto been unaware. Many of the ideas which I here put forward as conjectures are shown by Fromm, on the evidence of history, to be facts, and he has explored their origin in social and depth-psychology far more exhaustively than I myself. It is therefore only right that I should refer those interested in the subject to Fromm's paper, while gladly conceding to him priority of publication.

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