Commercialisation of Christmas

Madeline Laguaite, Copy Editor

Forget visions of sugar-plums; this holiday season, small children are more likely to be dreaming of iPads and $200 worth of LEGO sets.

It’s becoming more apparent just how commercialised Christmas and the holiday season are. Beginning on Thanksgiving and extended well into the new year, large corporations like Macy’s and smaller, local stores like Target and Toys R Us advertise the hottest toys on the block, usually electronics of some kind. However, Christmas wasn’t always such an advertised holiday. In fact, it was rather the opposite.

In the 19th century, specifically in the United States, Christmas was only mildly celebrated. Typically, families would attend church and maybe exchange a few small gifts. In fact, adorning Christmas trees, a German tradition brought over to America in the first major wave of immigrants in the 1840’s, only became popular in America after Queen Victoria helped promote the decorating of spruce or fir trees.  By the early 1900’s, a notable amount of Americans had a Christmas tree and garnished it with unique, homemade decorations. In fact, hand-made ornaments were common in the 20th century, making the holiday much more family-oriented. Children would sit down with their loved ones and cut out symmetrical snowflakes, painstakingly thread string through popcorn to create strands, and use ordinary everyday items like pinecones to embellish the tree. Today, families hop in the car and purchase an endless amount of rainbow lights, revolving Christmas trees, and neon lawn decorations. Most ornaments are glass and again, store-bought.

The fact that the all large stores use the television to advertise their hip, new, toy technology also contributes to the prosperity of businesses in the holiday season. In the 20th century, more notably the earlier half, television was not necessarily an everyday technology that the majority of people had access to. Today, a child watches an iPhone being advertised on T.V. and immediately thinks, “Hey, that looks cool.” Commercials in November, December, and January are often misleading, using deceptive statistics as a means to attract consumers to the store’s doors. In the wintery grasp of Christmas, parents will purchase nearly anything that has the world “sale” posted above it.

While a commercialised Christmas certainly isn’t the worst thing to experience, it can generate the wrong idea for young children who are left wondering why they only received thirty-six presents, two less than the year prior.