Jingle Bells and Christmas Bills

Casey H.

Managing Editor

It is as if there is a curtain hanging over every store in America, and the second the kids are done counting their candy on Halloween night, it goes up, revealing green and red lights and Santas eager to hear a child’s wishes and take the parents’ money. Corporations have pounced on the commercial value of Christmas, dusting off colorful trees and Black Friday sale signs. With a society run by money, it is no surprise that Thanksgiving is becoming known as the day before Black Friday, and the origins of the holiday are only represented with plastic nativity scenes.

Much of the commercialization of the beloved religious holiday can be traced back to 2008. America was emerging from an economic recession. Eager to make up for lost time, consumers went on a Christmas shopping spree that made corporate CEOs’ heads perk up. Since then, as the economy has grown even stronger, companies have lunged on the commercial opportunities that make themselves apparent in the months of gift-giving.

Ever since, department stores have started their Christmas sales as soon as they could. The objectifying of Christmas has been a long time in the making; the origins of the holiday start in Bethlehem, when Jesus of Nazareth was born. However, theologians estimate that he was born sometime in the spring, most likely April. Society has chosen to celebrate in December, a custom starting in the late 1800s, somewhat misinterpreting the true meaning of Christmas from the very beginning. Thousands of years after the birth of Christ, the holiday Christmas was created, and while it honored Jesus, there was already significant economic value for those selling candy and wooden toys.

Christmas sale CH 1Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to groan at the thought of the holiday season. Many worry about what gifts to buy, the food they should cook, and other trivial events that seem to magnify themselves at this time of year. When asked to rate Christmas stress on a scale of one to ten, Dr. Krista Webb, an AP World History and AP US History teacher, said, “Nine. Shopping, cooking, wrapping, entertaining, all on top of my already overwhelming workload.” Many acknowledge these challenges and fret over them, and what do they turn to for relief? Christmas movies and music, yet another side effect of the corporate stronghold on the holiday.

Tying back to the religious themes, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, which for Christians symbolizes hope, joy, peace, and love. These are the foundations of the so-called “Christmas spirit.” However, there is hardly any peace or love in the modern, hectic celebration. Senior Duncan Jones says of the holiday season, “I celebrate Christmas not because I am religious, but because I like getting presents.” This has not gone unnoticed, as it is pointed out in such classics as Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, especially the famous monologue given by Linus in the Peanuts favorite: “And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.’ That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Even if someone is not religious, these classic themes are encouraging and make Christmas more bearable, if they are remembered.

This is a common problem with all religious holidays that has made itself evident as partying becomes popular and the media’s influence grows. For instance, the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, has transformed into a cycle of chaste daytime activities and gluttonous celebrations after the sun goes down. Stressful Christmas shopping and feasting leaks into Hanukkah, with its eight days of presents and family dinners. It has grown increasingly difficult to dig out the common themes that most look for in any religious holiday, not just Christmas, beneath all the stress and consequent stress relief that follows.

Contrary to popular belief, there was never the “good old days of Christmas.” Since the beginning of its celebration, commercialization and stress have manifested themselves, and it is not likely that such things will ever go away. Therefore, it is important to remember a holiday’s roots and to try to derive whatever seems missing from there. Christmas is about hope and joy; Hanukkah is about thankfulness; Ramadan is about contemplation. Anyone lost in the Christmas hustle and bustle, or any other hustle and bustle, should turn to these themes. Focusing on them, it is easy to get into the Christmas spirit.

 

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