Christmas: Old Tradition or Big Business for the Industry
Do you think we have lost the spirit of Christmas traditions due to capitalism and materialism?
Origins of Christmas
Christmas is a very popular holiday not only in the United States but also among many other countries around the world. Many people question the purpose of Christmas due to the over-marketed and mass produced amounts of products being made and sold, mainly in the spirit of a consumer capitalistic Christmas.
Due to the fact that Christmas has been around for quite some time, perhaps we are still celebrating this old tradition but just in a different way. Many traditions can evolve over time and can intertwine with other traditions to make new ones.
Christmas was originally celebrated for the birth of Jesus. This began as a Christian holiday from the 18th century. The traditions celebrated for Christmas in the United States are different from the traditions celebrated in other countries. The reason for the difference is because other countries have different beliefs and customs; therefore their traditions for holidays that we may both celebrate will always be slightly different, if not majorly different.
Are Christmas Traditions Dying Off?
In the United States, children receive presents under their Christmas tree as well as inside of stockings that are hung on the wall or near a fireplace. The wonderfully wrapped presents are given to the children from a chubby man in a red and white suit with a big beard. He goes by the name of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus.
It seems that the intensity of the celebration of Christmas has reduced over a number of years. The reason for the lowered number of families and other people celebrating can come from a number of possible factors. It seems the main factor is that Christmas is now becoming more of a consumer holiday, where going into debt to celebrate a single day of the year is becoming a well-known trend.
With credit and credit cards well in place, this only advances the consumerism that occurs when people go “Christmas Shopping.” Perhaps you have a large family and even when buying each person a small cost gift, it can really add up by the time you are done shopping for each person. Or consider people who have a lot of money. Perhaps they want to go all out and buy the most expensive gifts for their friends and family. Does this ideology pervert the very idea of what Christmas stands for?
I tend to think that Christmas in this day and age can be a very touchy subject for most people due to the religious nature. The most recent trending thing about Christmas was the very act of saying “Merry Christmas” to someone. Most people were being offended by this greeting and preferred the greeting of “Happy Holidays.” A very non-religious connotation can be observed from the latter preferred greeting.
Is Christmas a tradition that Should be Kept or Has It Turned into Big Business for the Industry?
One author has written on the subject. Donald Heinz’s Christmas: Festival of Incarnation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010). Heinz speaks of the Christmas of today and the Christmas we all used to know and love.
“A capitalist Christmas focuses on all the materials that claim to be good instead of on the Good that claims to be material.” (225) “The danger is that consumer capitalism “re-trains believers to act like consumers precisely when they are behaving religiously.” (225)
Heinz goes over the psychology of the everyday consumer and revelates that consumers are being trained to consume. The idea of consumers being brainwashed into buying products and services seems outrageous and ludacris but I can also believe it. There are so many companies and corporations out there trying to sell you something. Most people are not self-sufficient these days. This leaves people with no choice but to consume. If you cannot create, you must consume what someone else has created.
Christmas Traditions Will Never Die
Christmas in America has become celebrated in a different way in the nature of tradition due to the melting pot of different cultures that are now well established here. Even families have their own traditions they celebrate on Christmas; volunteering at a local soup kitchen is a way of giving back to the community. I think that the traditions of Christmas will continue to exist and the amount of people who celebrate it will most likely increase. With an increase in people celebrating, means more consumerism. I believe consumerism will always be present. We are the ones who choose to be aware of our consuming habits and we are also the storytellers to our future generations about how Christmas originated and how it is celebrated.
One thing remains to be fact. Christmas is never celebrated incorrectly or wrong as long as the intention at heart is pure. Christmas is about family and being with your loved ones. Celebrating life with the gift of giving and taking part in sharing a meal together, if at least, just once a year.
Heinz, Donald. Christmas: Festival of Incarnation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press,2010.)