Friday, November 27, 1998 Published at 19:17 GMT
Put Christ back into Christmas - Hume
For many, Santas and fairy lights are key parts of Christmas
Catholic leader Cardinal Basil Hume has called for "Christ to be put back into Christmas" as commercialisation threatens to swamp the festive season.
Cardinal Hume, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned against growing materialism as the year's busiest shopping time approaches.
He said: "Giving presents at Christmas is a good thing and shopping is a good thing, but we have to be careful not to turn our shopping centres into cathedrals as it were, where we worship material things and riches.
Cardinal Hume wants the shops to remind customers of the true meaning of Christmas.
"What I find is a lack of Christian symbols in our shop windows," said the cardinal. "It was a crib when I was a child - in your shop window as well as in your church - and so glitter and lights are taking the place of Christian symbols."
Waste not, want not
His comments coincided with environmentalists' calls for consumers to boycott shopping on Saturday.
They are protesting at a waste of the earth's resources because of over-commercialisation.
In Britain, more than £1bn is spent on decorating our homes, even more goes on food and drink and on average, £700 per head is spent on gifts.
It is worried that for less well-off families, Christmas is just too much to bear.
Spokesman Roger Smith said: "Families with low incomes, parents struggling to make ends meet are finding themselves forced to go without food in some cases, in order to provide the perfect Christmas for their children."
Liana Stupples of Friends of the Earth said: "The problem with our level of resource use is that it is causing problems like pollution. It is creating gases which are polluting our atmosphere.
"It is creating big pile-ups of waste. We simply have to put in holes in the ground that in turn cause problems for our drinking water and our food."