THE LOW DOWN: Who Took the Christ Out of Christmas?
Christmas has become a holiday with little cause and lots of cash.
Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 15:12
Christmas was once a Christian holiday that emphasized religious reverence, "Peace on Earth and good will toward men," but for some, Christmas has become a perverted shadow of good intentions.
Now the Gift of the Magi just means more debt for many Americans who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and filled in the blanks with material possessions. "I hate putting stuff on my card," said Valley business major Jesenia Valdez. "I resent people after I get the bill."
Each holiday season manufacturers market a plethora of products aimed to help consumers lose weight, find love, smell pretty, or make others jealous, because purchasing the most expensive, popular and extravagant items is a reflection of your social status (and bank account). Sellers spend countless amounts on ad space designed for the "ideal' buyer, or their parents, who are sucked into making unnecessary purchases to display their "love." Since more conventional ways of displaying affection have been lost to text, e-mail, IM and the occasional phone call, parents are left with few ways of saying, "I love you" and gifts are becoming a not-so-good substitution for many people.
"Brands are the new religion," declared the global advertising firm Young & Republican in a 2001 Financial Times article. "People turn to them for meaning."
A recent Gallup poll discovered that Americans intend to spend an average of $616 for Christmas this year, which is a 10-year low. Department stores are expected to take a 40 percent sales hit during the 2010 holiday season and discount stores, like Wal-Mart and Target, are projected to have little sales changes despite the reduction of "play money" that many Americans have.
In the religion of the American consumer the ad man has become a missionary and brand names are the gods which deserves homage. MAC, Nike, WII and Versace will receive more than their fair share of tithes, offerings and a possible mauled shopper as sacrifice, while Jesus is left increasingly in the cold.
"The church is pretty rich," said Valley finance major Joseph Avetisyan. "I don't think the church has a problem...buying gifts is still giving so it's not bad. The stores are doing good and the persons giving and getting the gift are happy."
In the last 100 years Americans have turned the season of giving into the season of getting. The pews have become sparse because most of our consumerism society is out on Christmas day still looking for the perfect gift. Retailers happily accommodate last-minute shoppers by offering longer hours, more employees and holiday deals on Christmas day in a final attempt to suck every last penny out of the Christmas customer. Sadly, Jolly Old Saint Nick has lost his job to the NASDAQ.