Commercialization of Christmas

By Alison Eppley, Staff Writer

With the holiday season creeping closer, Christmas has already taken over store aisles and the advertising world. These premature and elaborate displays pose the question: Has Christmas become too commercialized?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail sales in America can rise over 50 percent in December compared to November, and over 15 percent of retailers begin Christmas promotions on October 1st. Almost every major business in America uses Christmas as an advertising tool now, including Coca-Cola, who illustrated the jolly looking Santa that is so well known today.

It sells,” Career Center teacher Joshua Bragg said. “Christmas makes people feel good and companies like to be associated with making people feel good.”

In 2015, $830 billion was spent on Christmas gifts in the U.S. Even 81 percent of non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas now, so purchasing gifts is a must for many, and businesses are aware of that.

“It’s inevitable that you’re going to have to buy something, so you can milk it as much as you want to and I think they do that,” junior Maggie Welsh said.

Some think this strategy is just business and Christmas can be whatever someone makes of it.

“There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it,” Bragg said. “Companies try to make money off of every holiday.”

Others consider this practice as taking away from the holiday. Either way, things are not looking like they will be changing anytime soon.

   “In being overly commercialized it loses it’s real meaning,” Welsh said. “They’ve made it into this holiday surrounded by advertising and buying instead of what it’s original purpose was. But I think that since we’ve already gotten to this point, it’s probably going to be pretty hard to go back.”

The way people celebrate Christmas varies from family to family. To each person who celebrates it, Christmas can mean something different.

“I like all the traditions and getting to be with both sides of my family,” Welsh said. “Yes [I do want this meaning to be preserved], I like all of our family traditions and I get sad if we don’t get to do one or the other.”

Due to promotion of it by the media, the  holiday now has both a religious and a cultural meaning, celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike.

“For a religious person, the meaning of Christmas is not derived from American culture but from a religious standpoint,” Bragg said. “For a non-Christian person, the meaning of Christmas is derived from the greater cultural norm.  In that sense, the increasingly secular holiday of Christmas gives the greater significance and meaning to its existence for that person.”

Whether Christmas is a time of religious celebration or a time of gift giving and decoration, everyone is free to celebrate (or not) the holiday as they see fit.

“As with all things, Christmas is what you make of it,” Bragg said. “ If you focus on the parts that matter to you, it shouldn’t matter what others think of the holiday”

Photo from Cennamology