Pope Francis said Wednesday that Christmas cannot just be about swapping presents and indulging in a massive consumer binge, urging the faithful to remember its original purpose to mark Christ's birth.
"The advertising machine tells us we have to exchange more and more new presents to give us a surprise. But is that the sort of celebration that God wants?" Francis asked a regular open audience in the Vatican.
"No, Christmas is about listening to the silent voice of God," he said.
"Please, I ask you, let us not turn Christmas into a fashionable event!
"It is not Christmas if we seek out the bright lights, if we load up on presents but then don't help even one poor person," said the Pope who is well known for his criticism of social inequality and injustices.