Has Christmas become too commercialised?

Posted on Nov 2, 2019.

I wrote this essay way back in May but I couldn't really share it back then or I wouldn't get any grades so here it is for everyone to read.

Did you know that the average person spends £600 on Christmas presents every year? Toys, clothes, iPhones: whatever it is, we spend hundreds of our hard-earned cash on for our near and dear ones. But, why we do it? Why do we spend so much money, just to see our family members and friends happy after we’ve given them their dream gift? Will they even remember us giving it to us after a few months anyway? Have we forgotten the reason we started this in the first place? Is it even about the birth of Jesus Christ anymore?

Imagine going into Tesco in the middle of August and seeing a fully decorated Christmas tree in the car park. This is what happened in one Tesco store in Cambridge. Other Tesco stores have opened their Christmas aisles, three months before the festive season even starts. Increasingly, companies just use Christmas to make money. They manipulate their goods just to make them look good to the customers. In the past few decades, the commercialisation of Christmas has really taken off. Especially with the dawning of the Internet, people and companies can now sell from anywhere and customers can buy products and gain satisfaction whenever they desire. Companies shouldn’t just be out there to make money; they should also be there to meet the customer’s need and to help the customer.

Every year, Christmas is expected to cost more and more money. This means that more and more people – especially parents – will find themselves in debt after forking out hundreds for gifts for friends and loved ones. Some adults spend so much that they can’t pay basic bills. A poll conducted by YouGov revealed that one in twenty Britons miss out paying essential household bills like electricity and heating so that they can afford a “perfect Christmas”. The same survey said that more than 2000 adults admitted that they were relying on credit to make it through Christmas time. A single mum from Jaywick, 17 miles outside London, spent £500 on various presents for her children: DVDs, video games and iPads amongst other things for her four children. Personally, I believe that people shouldn’t spend all their money on Christmas presents, they should only spend what they can afford. As children grow up seeing their parents spending more and more on Christmas each year, the concern is that they will mimic their parents when they have a family of their own. This snowball effect will increase debt and further serve the commercialisation of Christmas.

Apparently, 11% of children asked in a survey by the Daily Record in 2008 said that Christmas was about celebrating the birth of Santa Claus. Even some adults, have forgotten the real meaning of the festive season. In a Humanist Society Scotland survey in 2018, it showed that just 21% of people in Scotland were religious, that’s just under a quarter, way less than the amount of people who were religious 50 or 100 years ago. Christmas is more than just giving gifts to each other. It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago and it’s about spending quality time with our family and close friends, recognising the importance of love and family. The gifts we give at Christmas represent the gifts that the wise men gave to Jesus when he was born and more importantly God’s gift of Jesus to the world. If people don’t associate with a religion, then why do they even celebrate Christmas? After all, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, hence the name, Christ-mas.

Black Friday has been a tradition in the US for years but a couple of years ago Amazon brought it over here. Ever since, stores like Asda and John Lewis have started major sales to entice customers. The marketing craze tries to feed people’s ever-growing desire to be more and have more. Customer madness has caused people to fight over TVs, vacuum cleaners and DVD players. Police have had to be called to control the stores so that people don’t end up “killing each other”. In one TV interview, a customer said that she didn’t even need the product that she fought for, she just bought it because it was cheap. Why spend money on something if you don’t need it? Surely you should keep things like that for people who couldn’t afford it if it was full price.

Some people would argue that the commercialisation of Christmas is good for businesses because it brings in most of their annual turnover. Some companies only stay afloat because of the money that Christmas brings in. Part-time employment increases at Christmas so that people can get their Amazon deliveries on time, their Christmas cards before Christmas, and their turkeys ready for Christmas Day. Without commercialisation, for many Christmas would just be another bank holiday. Whether you agree or disagree with commercialisation, individuals own beliefs are what makes Christmas special for them and what sets it apart from other holidays, and so surely, we must accept that it is about far, far more than easily forgettable and over-expensive presents.

Spending so much at Christmas has got out of hand. Kids used to be just fine when they got wooden spinning tops, small sweets and tangerines for Christmas. So, what’s the need when presents aren’t even the point of Christmas? Companies just make the most out of people’s ignorance. So, do we reintroduce the teaching of the Christmas story into schools or should people stop celebrating things that they don’t believe in or understand? As a nation, we don’t celebrate festivals from other religions, so why do people celebrate Christian festivals like Christmas or Easter when most of the population don’t follow the faith to which it pertains?