The Commercialism of Christmas: Has it Gone too Far?
Is Over-Consumerism Warping the Unrealistic Idea of “The Perfect Christmas”?
It often seems as though the marketing for Christmas starts as early as the end of October, a mere two months before the celebrations commence.
It could even be said that the advertisements come along earlier every year, containing products which are never of great importance yet somehow we always feel the need to spend hard earned money on what the company or store advertises.
It has become evident, especially in recent years that the commercialism of Christmas has escalated beyond recognition. Meaning that, people are spending more than they can afford in this economic climate.
‘How It Used To Be’
It has only been in the last 50 years that Christmas and the commercialism of this holiday have gone hand in hand. Before this time Christmas was more about the religious side and most people would only receive simple and very traditional gifts, such as chocolate or a toy if you were lucky.
Christmas was not hounded by adverts that condoned the idea that we must spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to achieve the “perfect” family Christmas. It was about being together as a family and celebrating with loved ones.
Due to the technological boom, advertisers have found that it can branch out in to different mediums to market their products.
‘Every Source of Media is used as a Tool to Mass Market Christmas’
Magazines, TV, Music and the internet are seen as ways to incorporate the commercialism of Christmas.
The infamous Christmas Number 1 is ranked according to the sales of singles, making the public inclined to buy the music of their favourite artist in order to make them number one. Christmas songs at this time of year are used heavily in advertisements as well such as the coca cola adverts.
When it comes to TV, Christmas specials of popular programmes are often promoted to death on our screens but are never quite as special as they would have us believe.
Christmas themed films that are often family oriented appeal to all ages, a form of target marketing that also ends up appearing on our TV listings for the Christmas period.
Along with this, online shopping for retailers is one of their biggest profiteers throughout the year. It is easier for people to shop online, often having half price sales online on days leading up to Christmas Eve to instigate shoppers to non-useful last minute presents.
“It seems as though Santa Claus is no longer just a saint, but the deity of commercialism.” As said in December 2011 News 24 Article “Is Christmas Just Big Business?”
‘An Excuse for Over-Consumerism’
The marketing and promotion of Christmas makes shoppers feel obliged to spend more money on not just gifts but food and decorations, making many find it easier and less stressful to buy food in bulk.
Another excuse to this could be that the public feel the pressure to spend more so than ever at this time of year. Many feel that at this time of year there is a pressure to spend and so in extreme cases shoppers will go so far as to take out loans in order to manage the marketing frenzy of Christmas.
It is often seen as stressful due to this matter as many feel that they cannot afford to buy gifts for loved ones or often end up having to pay off such loans for months to come. It is quite blatantly consumerism gone mad.
‘Consumerism must help negate what is the religious aspect’
It can be said that religion is used to justify such consumerism and marketing; a mere excuse to spend more money than usual on gifts for loved ones.
Due to the force that Christmas commercialism entails, other religions are cast out at this time of year, which contradicts the true meaning of what this celebration is.
However, many people from other religions, who do not celebrate Christmas, buy in to the commercialism as they will buy trees and gifts for those they know who celebrate it.
Again, this shows the whirlwind effects that commercialism has on even the minority of those who do not celebrate this holiday.
“It’s the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that ‘If I don’t spend enough money, someone will think I don’t love them,’ ” says Portland, Ore., pastor Rick McKinley in Time Magazine’s 2009 article “Church Group Attacks Christmas Commercialism”.
‘Can Future Commercial Tendencies Around Christmas Time Turn Dangerous?’
As Christmas gives us the inner feeling of goodwill, we become relaxed in judgement of certain situations.
We often tell our children to never speak to strangers, however, this is contradicted when we let them sit on a stranger’s knee posing as Father Christmas and ask them to tell this person what they want for Christmas.
It leaves a rather bitter feeling as we kindly let our children go to Santa’s Grotto however we never know who is actually playing Father Christmas. We do not know who is being employed to wear the judgement-free Santa suit.
Possibly the most dangerous aspect of Christmas is the fact that it will continue to warp our judgement of what we feel is acceptable in standards of a memorable and happy Christmas. The questions that we are left with could be: Are we sub-consciously teaching our children that over-consumerism is an absolute must? Will we go to extreme lengths in the future to acquire this?