How to play the Christmas game

Christmas is the opportunity for each guest to reassert their family affiliation. Yet, dysfunctions sometimes creep under the Christmas tree. Fortunately, game is a practical mean to avoid mishaps of all sorts.

1. Christmas: a diplomatic meeting of paramount importance

Ruining Christmas is the nightmare of families. In fact, It’s the time & place to reassert that  whatever their differences, they are supportive to each other. To prove it, they follow rules: “one should not come simply to eat,  but make an effort to be in the same state of mind” explains Nicolas. One should also pay attention to others, take care of them and play the role expected by the family (one is the son of, the sister of, etc.).

2. But mishaps can spoil the party

When Grandpa watches TV while everybody else is toasting; when the Uncle wants to talk politics at the end of the table or that cousins find nothing to speak about, then a terrible sense occurs: embarrassment! The family is the witness of one of its flaws: it cannot demonstrate to itself that it is properly united.

3. Playing helps Christmas succeed

Because playing prevent all sorts of dysfunctions: silences when we have nothing to say to each other, or distractions when we look elsewhere. Playing also allows to avoid big mishaps : after all, it is only a game. As explained by Pierre : “Yeah yeah (game) is federating enough, it is truly an excuse to gather and exchange”.

4. Are games a total success? Stay wary!

Games are a safe value because they help individuals to play their role as a family member… even if this means disappearing behind these roles.



Family games at Christmas: what are we playing?

Why is playing games a so widespread and such an essential part of Christmas? To dissect what can seem obvious at first glance, we wanted to understand what role games play within the Christmas family ritual. Beyond the common thought that playing is something insignificant and childish, we took playing very seriously, and we dived into what playing is really about, what is at stake, the behaviors and attitudes playing generates. If the game is everything but “frivolous”, how does it position itself within the Christmas ritual?

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Marc-Antoine Morier - Strategy & Anthropology

Graduated from the EHESS, Marc-Antoine shares his expertise in Sociology and Anthropology with companies. He joined unknowns in 2017 to organize and realize the social sciences fieldwork.

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Marc-Antoine Morier

""Social sciences offer methods and tools to understand people. Using them is a good way to understand how and why they do what they do and say what they say.""