Every child (in the West) knows that Father Christmas, “conventionally pictured as a jolly old man with a long white beard and red clothes” (OD 2011), brings the presents. Depending on where you live, this might happen on either the evening of the 24th December or during the night before the 25th. Lucky girls and boys in Germany, for example, might additionally wake up to winter boots stuffed with treats by Nikolaus on the 6th December, while Spanish children keep their fingers crossed for extras from the Three Kings on January the 6th. But whoever is passing our doorstep, or coming down our chimneys, one thing is certain: it will never be a woman but always a man.
However, as a pre-Christmas press release by MoneySupermarket.com states: “[t]he big Christmas shop is still predominantly the preserve of women and mums, with just one in ten men saying they are their household's principal Christmas shopper” (MoneySupermarket.com 2011). So if women are doing most of the work, why are we (still) thanking men?
‘Traditionally’, men might have been the ones to put the money on the table for Christmas, but as women (are finally allowed to) make up almost half of the UK’s workforce, their contribution will undoubtedly go beyond their usually unpaid, and therefore unappreciated, labour – and that whilst being paid up to 20% less (Home Office 2011).
So if anything, should we not be praising women rather than men? Should we not be thanking Mother Christmas for not only predominantly choosing and wrapping, but also for buying, most of our gifts? And further, should we not encourage (our) children to finally recognise the part of women, instead of letting their efforts continue to disappear under the patriarchal weight of Santa Claus, Nikolaus and the Three Wise Men? So this festive season, why not make a conscious effort to recognise the women in our lives – looking at their persisting devaluation in every part of it, by goodness, they really need it.