Negotiating Christian Cultural Heritage

Christmas in Schools and Public Service Media




Christian cultural heritage, public schools, public service media, practice theory, culturalization, heritage making, citizenship, mediatization, lived religion, Christmas


This article shows how Christmas in schools and public service media for children (PSM) involves negotiation and renewal of Christian cultural heritage. Across the studied cases from Norway and Denmark, we find that the institutions involved seek to realize community. However, community is approached differently in different settings. It is either understood restoratively as a process in which children, including immigrant children, become part of an existing societal community, or constructively as establishing an inclusive community across cultural and religious divides. A major finding is that activities associated with Christianity such as school services are framed in a language of ‘museumification’ and not as part of a living religious practice with the capacity to change and transform. Whereas Islam is positioned as a ‘religious other’, Christianity understood as culture facilitates creative heritage making, establishing community across religious divides. Contrary to political rhetoric, Christian cultural heritage in schools and PSM is by and large not dominated by a safeguarding nationalistic discourse. Rather, traditions and activities related to Christianity are negotiated and appropriated for the benefit of an inclusive community. A premise for making this succeed in schools and PSM is to negotiate Christian cultural heritage as culture, not as religion.

Author Biographies

Elisabeth Tveito Johnsen, University of Oslo

is associate professor in Practical Theology at the
University of Oslo, Norway.

Kirstine Helboe Johansen, Arhus University

Phd, Head of Department of Theology, Associate Professor in Practical Theology at School of Culture and Society. 




How to Cite

Johnsen, E. T., & Johansen, K. H. (2021). Negotiating Christian Cultural Heritage: Christmas in Schools and Public Service Media. Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion, 57(2), 231–57.