by Nicole Belair, Staff Writer
Christmas used to be about much more than Black Friday shopping, overspending on gifts, and wishing for the coolest new gadgets.
It’s hard to believe that Christmas was ever free of capitalistic corruption.
It wasn’t always focused on consumers, but rather on religion and pure holiday wonder.
In the nineteenth century, Christmas consisted of church services and occasionally a large feast with friends and family. The holiday season was never the “commercial racket” that it is now.
In its earlier days, the traditional American Christmas simply consisted of children hanging their stockings in anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.
Freshly cut evergreen trees were placed in the corner and covered in tinsel.
Christmas was established as a time of kindness, love, and giving – the “true meaning of Christmas.”
But just before the start of the twentieth century, businesses started realizing the commercial potential in the holiday.
Over the next several years, all kinds of Christmas goods found ready markets: greeting cards, ornaments, toys, garlands, poinsettias, and so on. And it has been all downhill since.
Now, Christmas has become one big marketing strategy. Many businesses rely on Black Friday and Christmas sales to maintain economic success.
Take “Elf on the Shelf” for instance. Those little toys sell out within minutes of going on sale every year.
For some reason, it costs thirty dollars for the plush toy and book. It’s not like it is made in America or created from high-quality materials. It’s a cheaply made, tiny doll that is allegedly a spy for Santa Claus.
The Elf bullies kids into thinking that good behavior equals gifts. I know that it’s all in good fun, but it’s still incredibly creepy and a huge rip-off.
I once learned about a holiday marketing strategy in a rhetoric class, regarding the annual scam that toy suppliers pull on consumers.
A few months before Christmas, companies will release various promotions for the “hottest new toys.”
Kids see them and subsequently beg their parents for these particular toys.
The stores then purposely understock those toys, making it impossible for every parent to fulfill their children’s wishes. Feeling guilty, the parents buy extra toys to make up for not getting their kids exactly what they want.
Then, when the stores restock after the holidays, the parents will still go back and buy that certain toy for their kids. While it’s a smart business strategy, it’s a vicious cycle.
Lucy had it right in A Charlie Brown Christmas when she told Charlie, “we all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.”
As a somewhat religious person, it sometimes disappoints me to witness all of the “commercial racket” that Lucy mentioned.
Christmas was intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus, after all.
Even if you’re not religious, I think we can all agree that Christmas in its earliest, purest form is simply meant to be a time of festivity, happiness, and spending time with our loved ones.
It feels like we’ve lost sight of what the holiday truly means. Sure, the spirit of Christmas involves giving, but I think we’ve been going a bit overboard.