Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The commercialization of Christmas

How marketing ruins the holiday
(Alvin Buyinza/ Daily Collegian)

Last October, I remember walking through the sliding glass doors of my local CVS, already scanning the shelves in search of a late-night snack after work. I could already hear faint swells of “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey playing in the background. I passed through the paper goods looking for the candy aisle, but before I could satisfy my midnight cravings, I noticed the overwhelming chaos of the “holiday aisle.” It was bursting with red and green garlands, rows upon rows of string lights and shelves full of shiny ornaments. Regardless of the season, this designated middle aisle never fails to display festive decor for the next major holiday. However, no matter how eager I was for it to be the Christmas season, I could not believe how early stores were preparing for the onslaught of holiday consumers.

Every year, I’ve started noticing the commercialism of Christmas beginning earlier and earlier. When I was younger, I would be surprised to see stores putting out Christmas decorations for sale in the beginning of November, because I thought of November as “Thanksgiving season.” However, this year I saw Christmas commercials starting as early as October. In today’s society, Christmas is used simply as a marketing ploy so that greedy corporations can take consumers’ money. In 2016, the total expected holiday sales were expected to exceed $1 trillion, and this number is projected to keep rising every year. With the holiday shopping season expanding, that leaves more time for retail companies to manipulate what used to be a wholesome day for families to celebrate into something materialistic and superficial.

Whether it be the Black Friday frenzy, holiday sales in the malls or Christmas music playing on the radio stations in October, the over-marketing of Christmas is taking away from the joy of the holiday itself. I used to love going to the mall as it neared Christmas. I even enjoyed the hustle and bustle that my mom despised, the crowds and the general festivity of shopping around the holidays. Now, it seems like it has been Christmas in the malls for the past two months, taking away from something special that I used to look forward to for a limited time each year.

Additionally, Christmas is deviating away from its core meaning, the religious day itself. Now, “Christmas” seems to be a blanket term for the holiday season. When I hear the word, the religious aspect of the holiday is not the first thing that comes to mind. Granted, I am not religious, but it’s definitely a sign that there is something deeply wrong in our society if most people’s first association with a day of religious observance is not with the religion itself, because it makes the holiday celebration seem more superficial. The fact that many people who are not even religious celebrate Christmas shows just how pervasive the commercialism that infects American society has become. In fact, nine out of ten Americans celebrate Christmas, but in the same study, 32 percent of people who said they celebrated Christmas said, “it was less about religion and more of a cultural holiday.” Christmas in America is no longer about the religion itself, but has come to represent a certain time of year. Some retail companies no longer even use the term “Christmas” to describe the holiday, instead opting for sayings like “Tis’ the season,” “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” in order to appeal to a wider range of consumers who are not religious. However, this inclusivity isn’t genuine, because it is still clear that advertisements are based on certain aspects of Christmas, often showing Christmas trees or Santa Claus. These marketing strategies show that holiday is being used to gain money in any way possible.

With Christmas marketing starting earlier and the average holiday spending in America rising every year, it is easy to forget what Christmas is really about: family and tradition. Now, when I go to the mall, I try to focus on why I used to love going around the holiday time: the little kids waiting to get a picture with Santa, the wreaths and lights in the store fronts and the festive songs playing in all the stores. Commercialism is taking away from these otherwise positive experiences associated with the holiday and making it more about money than anything else. However, unless America, a money-driven culture, changes, neither will the superficiality of Christmas.

Alanna Joachim is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    NITZAKHONDec 4, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Thanks to the Left, religion has been driven from public life; people who believe openly are mocked. Since I believe, firmly, that people are hardwired to believe in something, something – in this case, unfettered greed – races in to fill that void.

    America has always been a free market country. What’s changed? The popular culture. Religion and belief have always restrained the darker aspects of people, but now? It’s not just the sin of GREED that’s in full force, unrestrained, but all the others, like LUST, GLUTTONY, SLOTH, etc.

    As a Jew, I have ZERO problem with someone saying “Merry Christmas!” to me. None. We’ve become so afraid of our Western Civilizational roots, i.e., the Judeo-Christian morality that used to be a given…

    In that spirit, MERRY CHRISTIMAS (and to my fellow Tribe members, Happy Chanukah).