The Archbishop of Canterbury says he thinks people who spend big on Christmas presents could risk their relationships by leaving themselves short of money.
In an exclusive interview with ITV’s financial guru Martin Lewis, Justin Welby admits it is a cliché for him to complain about modern consumerism - but says to treat Christmas as a materialistic festival is ‘ridiculous’.
The Archbishop’s comments mark the first time he has spoken about Christmas in a television interview and will feature on The Martin Lewis Money Show: 12 Saves Of Christmas, which is due to air on ITV on Tuesday November 12 at 8pm.
He says: “It’s a cliché of modern life that someone gets up and says Christmas is becoming very materialistic as though it wasn’t 300 years ago.
“Yes obviously the secular over-the-topness, everything you have to have, new clothes you have to have, new this, new that, new the other, is ridiculous, it’s absurd, it shouldn’t happen. It puts pressure on relationships because when you’re short of money you argue.
“You get cross with your kids more easily, it spoils life.”
He says that if he suggested people should stop giving Christmas gifts, no-one would listen.
“It’s obviously not what Christmas is about but to be absolutely honest there’s not that much point in saying it because nobody’s going to pay attention.”
When Martin asks the Archbishop if he feels guilty that some people get into debt over Christmas, while it is supposed to be a Christian festival, he says not.
“No, it doesn’t make me feel guilty at all because the Christian bit of Christmas isn’t the bit that’s getting people into debt. It’s the whole mercantile trading shopping over-the-topness, so I don’t feel guilty about it.”
Other highlights of the interview include a moment when Martin suggests the pair are singing ‘from the same hymn sheet’ and the Archbishop admits he doesn’t sing:
“I never sing. People pay me not to sing.”
The Archbishop also tells Martin he’s doing such a good job of preaching financial prudence that he doesn’t have to. He concludes: “No, I want to say something positive, which is God gives us his son Jesus Christ to give us life and full life and abundant life. Giving at Christmas reflects that generosity of God. So be generous in a way that shows love and affection rather than trying to buy love and affection.
“You can’t buy it, you can show it, and when you show it comes back at you with interest. Save up for the Christmas budget, be sensible, don’t put pressure on your finances - don’t make your life miserable with Christmas. Share love and affection with reasonable gifts that demonstrate you really care for someone. That makes for the best Christmas you could ever have.”
Elsewhere in the show, Martin delivers his Twelve Saves of Christmas - featuring tips to help your cash go further during the festive season. These range from clever shopping techniques to radical ways to save like banning unnecessary Christmas presents.
The financial expert has all the latest deals and unveils his brand new concept - a unique "advent" calendar predicting big discounts from major retailers in the run up to Christmas so viewers can be ready to pounce on bargains.