The Commercialization of Christmas: We have lost the true meaning of the holidays

By on December 5, 2012
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Make no mistake about it, Christmas isn’t what it used to be. It has become as commercial as the Superbowl. The dawn of the Internet has brought about a paradigm shift in the reasons why people celebrate the holiday. What used to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus has now turned into an all out bloodbath-bargain-bonanza-shopping-orgy for the secular masses. That is to say, for many, Jesus is not the reason for the season. 

The true meaning of the holidays has been diminshed by expensive gifts. Photo by MCT Campus

Do not be confused, this is not a futile attempt to make Christmas out to be a secular holiday, but merely a report from the front lines of what the vanguards of truth at Fox News have aptly labeled The War on Christmas. 

Personally, I have never much cared for Christmas. It has always seemed to me, even from my friends who are of the Christian faith, that the holidays are not really about celebrating the birth of Jesus. It’s really about the loot and the presents to boot. 

“Being that I’m not religious, I find it pretty ridiculous, personally, that people continue to defend Christmas’s religiousness so fervently, when many of them are the very ones rushing the department stores on Black Friday, being materialistic, etc. I celebrate Christmas because it is a winter/family tradition, but we don’t focus quite so heavily on gifts anymore,” said Cheyenne Taylor, an English major I spoke with about the relevance of Yuletides and whatnot. 

It is true that Christmas, for the most part, has drifted past the traditional manger scene and has morphed into some sort of capitalistic machine. How else do you explain the premature jubilation that the radio stations start spewing in our ears the day after Halloween? It serves as nothing more than an audible que to go out and start spending at once, (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but Cheyenne and I both agree that we should not kid ourselves about the meaning of Christmas. It’s a materialistic holiday whether the rest of the world is honest enough to admit it or not.

I don’t think there is any reason to pretend Christmas isn’t a consumer-based holiday, but it is about family and togetherness as well for many people. “I think if we just recognized that instead of trying to make it either religious/family-based or consumer-based, and having a bunch of hypocrites on both sides, we’d probably have a more enjoyable holiday,” Taylor went on to say.
The simple fact of the matter is this: a vast majority of people who don’t align themselves with the Christian faith still celebrate the holiday, not for the fact that it is the arbitrary birthday of Jesus, but because it is a time that families get together and enjoy each other’s company, or at least pretend to. 

As I mentioned earlier, with the dawn of the Internet, we have seen a paradigm shift in the way people celebrate the holiday. If not all, most of one’s holiday shopping can be done online – and retailers know this.

The deep dark hell that is known as Black Friday is now inevitably followed by Cyber Monday. Consumers now don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own homes to cash in on the deals that retailers try and pass off as being done purely in the spirit of giving. Really, they just know consumers like you and I are essentially forced to buy things during this time of year – and so the cycle goes. 

“I love capitalism. I’m glad that the feral masses are out there spending, making the economy go round. I hate the music, the clothes, the forced cheer, and the assumption people make that since I’m not Arab or don’t look like a Jew, that I’m a Christian. Oh and the Christmas movies. I want to see something awesome, like a Robocop Saves Christmas special,” said Woodson Sellers, a UAB graduate who now flies planes for a living. Sellers is not alone in his griping about the religious connotations that the holiday’s carry. 

A lot of religions use the end of the year to celebrate another trip around the sun. Judaism, Hinduism, Kwanza, etc. all use this magical time of year to focus on the family and celebrate what really matters: unity. If you strip away all the commercialism, you are left with the same bare bone fact: regardless of what deity you may or may not pray to, the holiday’s are a time we love to be with the one’s we love.  

We may not all agree that Christmas is about the birth of our little lord and savior Jesus Christ, but as my friend Cheyenne Taylor eloquently put it, we can all agree that “Christmas is a great excuse for businesses to exploit peoples’ feelings of guilt for profit, though… Unfortunately the hype and deals, disguised under ‘the spirit of giving’ is just another way to suck a lot of money out of a lot of people fast.”

Cody Owens
Staff Writer
cjowens@uab.edu

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  • kaki

    Amen.

  • Bernie

    I agree with you about the consumer frenzy and the pressures to buy, buy, buy…. But what if you think back to the time where you were a child. Sure, you must have enjoyed the presents, and yet, children seem to see a joy in all the lights, songs and gatherings. What if the problem is that adults are trying to perpetuate that feeling well beyond its meaning? What if there is a moratorium on adults buying for each other and we focus instead on the children? We adults get the food binges, parties and family :-)

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