Commercial Christmas: Do shops force the seasonal spirit too soon?

One of our writers debates whether the beloved, festive season has become corrupted by commercialism

Marina Snyder
29th November 2022
Image Credit: Unsplash
We all love that time of year… Lights glistening, music in the background while you do your weekly shopping, and of course, the cheesy yet endearing sweaters. Something about Christmas is simply magical. Only, there’s one problem: It’s October.

Each year, Christmas seems to arrive earlier and earlier in stores, with decorations bombarding aisles in your local shops before you can even find Halloween pumpkins. From early October, you can find tree decorations creeping onto shelves, and by November, “Jingle bells” is bound to leave its mark ringing at Tesco’s. Whether you’re a Christmas enthusiast, who celebrates as early as possible, or Scrooge himself, one thing can’t be denied; Christmas may be more than just a holiday when it comes to the commercial world.

In the 1920s, Coca-Cola began its Christmas advertising campaign, shaping the ‘Santa Clause’ image we all know and love today. This may have been the beginning of companies realizing how useful Christmas can be in terms of earning money, but it certainly didn’t stop there. To the public, advent calendars are seen as a treat to look forward to once a year. Christmas adverts have been adapted into British culture and even Percy pigs are given Christmas hats. But what we don’t realize is that, at the end of the day, the ‘seasonal spirit’ we all have come to know and love, is a construct created by companies to make money.

The ‘seasonal spirit’ we all have come to know and love, is a construct created by companies to make money.

This year for 2022, total retail sales of Christmas items are forecast to reach 82.2 billion pounds in the UK; it’s no wonder stores are attempting to force Christmas on us so soon, when there is so much potential to create revenue. But while this may benefit companies, does it benefit us? After all, we end up spending way too much money (during a cost-of-living crisis nonetheless) but also by December time, the excitement of Christmas is numbed because we’ve been celebrating it for three months already. After all, there are only so many Christmas films a person can watch, and if you start your ‘Love Actually’ viewing months in advance, then the festive season becomes an everyday experience rather than something to look forward to.

So, the question is: What is Christmas truly about? Is it time to spend with friends and family? Is it strictly a religious celebration? Or is it simply a commercialized holiday, created to exploit consumers? Either way, this year I’m excited to put up the tree and make some cookies, that is, as long as it’s in December.

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