Christmas and Commercialism

Why is Christmas said to be the best time of year? Or to better phrase the question. Why is Christmas the best time of the year period? Because it is a fact that a large majority of the global population say they feel happier during the Christmas season and no other holiday has ever had such a global and lasting impact on the international community like Christmas. What makes it so special, so different from the other festivals celebrated around this time of year?

Is it the family gatherings? The special feasts prepared? Or the tradition of giving gifts? It can’t be any of those because those traits and traditions are not unique to Christmas. These activities are also observed in the Jewish Hannukah as well as the African American Kwanzaa.

What then, makes Christmas so unique? Ironically enough, the answer to the dominance of Christmas as the de facto ultimate holiday is considered by many people to be its greatest scourge and sickness. Commercialism.

According to Merriam-Websters dictionary materialism is-a way of thinking that gives too much importance to material possessions rather than to spiritual or intellectual thing. An attitude which is fueled by commercialism defined as-the attitude or actions of people who are influenced too strongly by the desire to earn money or buy goods rather than by other value.

Going by these definitions it is understandable that American author Stan Guthrie once wrote “We Christians are right to be concerned that the culture is trying to take Christ out of Christmas. Let’s just be sure that we don’t bury him in an avalanche of our own holiday junk.”

It is no secret that some Christians are upset over the “hi-jacking” of their most beloved holiday by materialism which they consider as the anti-thesis of the season. Certain church leaders have even gone a step further and launched what they called the Advent Conspiracy movement six years ago.Determined to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas.

However, it can be argued that the longevity of Christmas was only made possible when big companies came into the picture to take advantage of the gift giving tradition. Commercialism adds a new dimension to the celebration of Christmas that is unique and infectious. Unique in the way that its effects can be directly observed and compared other similar holidays around the same time. Because of its secular principles Commercialism allows Christmas to be celebrated (in one way or another) by anyone and with anyone. It allows the holiday and all of its tenets and activities to be participated in and appreciated even by those outside the Christian faith. It also acts as a handy tool in spreading the spirit of Christmas into cultural spheres never before explored.

There is little doubt that children love Christmas because of the presents and the excitement of opening them on Christmas day. Adults on the other hand love the holiday for the memories of doing the same things they had as children and their wish to give the same memories to their offspring. A cycle is thus formed ensuring the tradition of Christmas for a time longer than probably any other celebration in human history.

And is it true that the team of commercialism and materialism are sapping away the spirit of Christmas (which is being generous and peace-loving )? The answer of course is no. Whether or not the forces behind commercialism honor the values that seem to be tagged to Christmas is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is they (whoever ‘they’ are) recognize that in order for them to sustain their businesses (perhaps) indefinitely they need to keep those values alive. Note that I am already speaking of businesses as heartless robots who think of nothing but the bottom line of profit and still they must, by their own need to survive, sustain what people think they are out to kill.

Commercialism has done more than feed itself on the cheer of Christmas (as many claim) it has actually contributed a very large part of what we know of Christmas today. Santa Claus.

The modern image of Santa Claus is actually an invention by the Coca-Cola company. The jolly old fat man in a bright red suit first came about when the beverage company published an ad in a magazine in 1931. These depictions of Santa Claus circulated for about three decades, and by then the modern image of the holiday gift-giver was pretty much set in stone.

I realize however, that the eradication of peace and generosity are not what most people decry when they say that commercialism is stealing the spirit of Christmas. They are concerned that children might, in the confusion of all the holiday hoo-hah, forget about what they’re celebrating in the first place, the birth of Jesus Christ.

This point is already null since (as I’ve already said) history proves that there is nothing even intrinsically Christian about the season. Jesus was not born on December 25th or anytime near it. Almost if not all Christmas traditions were hi-jacked from the Pagan Roman Saturnalia in an effort to convert people on a massive scale.

If Christmas isn’t about Jesus then why have a Christmas at all? The spirit of peace and generosity. How about the promotion of brotherhood and camaraderie. To let those who you love know how you feel about them and how special they are to you. These are fine reasons to celebrate.

Christ or no Christ, in the end Christmas come down to us. Even if Jesus was indeed born on the 25th, whether it was in a manger or coming down in a pillar of light, just once or even a hundred times. If we decide to acknowledge that but go around spiting people and go around the way we do the rest of the year then the spirit of Christmas really would be lost to us.

As for me I’d rather children remember the peace and goodwill, and if that’s the only thing they can take away from it then the people of planet Earth have a lot to look forward to.

2 Tugon to “Christmas and Commercialism”

  1. Hi there,

    I can see how you feel about Christmas. It’s a shame that society seems to have forgotten the true meaning.

    I wrote a similar blog if you would like to have a read:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

    – Thuy

  2. I agree with your points on this matter…

    but…I guess, we are just fond of buying gifts coz it’s our way of showing camaraderie…

    people party and buy gifts because they can afford those kind of splurging….

    being materialistic is a part of us…especially for those who can afford to buy these-and-that…

    but during Noche Buena…it is the love and real happiness that we feel as we are together with our families and friends…

    we gather around with our loved ones during Christmas Eve and that’s the reason why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for me….

    me is just blogwalking here ^.^

    merry christmas 😉

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