The true meaning of Christmas
Christmas is one of those holidays that everyone looks forward to all year long, kind of like students counting down to summer vacation one week into school. It’s a break from the miserable Canadian cold, especially in Ottawa. It feeds our materialistic desires, while giving us a chance (an excuse?) to step away from school and work to spend time with family.
The holiday has Christian roots, but the religious aspect has long been discarded by the general public. Popular traditions surrounding Christmas today have actually evolved to include many Pagan practices celebrated during the winter solstice.
Despite the religious roots of the holiday, it’s integrated into the lives of nearly everyone in the Western world, regardless of their beliefs. I’m Muslim, but my family’s still prepping to pull our fake Christmas tree out of the basement as soon as December hits.
But these days, even before the Christmas season explodes around us, people start stressing about the extensive amount of Christmas shopping they need to get done. Whether or not you believe that Christmas can start in November, it’s hard to contest that the pre-holiday planning can start that early.
Christmas is now inherently linked to commercialization. Candy canes and tree-lights are on store shelves as soon as Halloween is over. It gets people into the spirit and, more importantly, reminds shoppers that they need to start their shopping stat. Even Black Friday is placed at the perfect time for people to impulse buy gifts for their loved ones or treat themselves because, hey, it’s the holiday season!
This holiday is one that feeds our materialism. From a young age, children start making lists (and checking them twice) detailing everything that they want in letters to Santa. Then, when it comes time to wait two hours in line at the mall to sit on some mall-Santa’s lap and take a picture, they’re asked again about what they want. The morning of Christmas, most kids are most looking forward to what they’ll find under the tree.
It’s not just children that engage in this Christmas materialism. Recently, there has also been a TikTok trend in which people share what they want their significant other or their parents to get them for Christmas.
So many family movies and tv shows try to enlighten viewers about the “true meaning of Christmas” (Full House comes to mind), but really, aren’t they also just commercializing Christmas?
Large companies prematurely shove Christmas into our faces in order to profit off of a holiday that is supposed to be about the spirit of giving. While gift-giving might be your love language, Christmas advertisements from large corporations only looking to make a profit make it seem inexcusable to not engage in the gift exchange process. We spend all year working for them and then pay them to encourage us to indulge in the overcommercialization of a holiday that is meant to celebrate the opposite.
Regardless, Christmas should be a time to look forward to. We’re expected to be working constantly and this is one time of the year that even big companies preach should be spent with family and filled with rest. Christmas season should be guilt free—except for the large corporations, who should feel guilty.