Almost without fail, every year around this time there will be two common refrains and debates starting and taking over in the public eye. The first is the endless debate about whether it’s appropriate to have a nativity scene, a menorah or any other religious symbol displayed publicly. The second will be about how all of the “spirit of the season” (religious or otherwise) has been stripped away and replaced by consumerism. Now, we’re certainly not going to weigh in here about the role of religion in the holidays, but we will say this…
It seems as though everybody is complaining about the consumerism of the holidays, yet nobody is complaining about the many public traditions and displays that advocate the religion of consumerism! Here’s just a short list of those very traditions:
-The obvious Black Friday and Cyber Monday dates, which have become their own holidays
-The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which while a lovely activity, is essentially a three-hour commercial for a department store that the entire nation participates in
-The many, many cities where department stores have actual events designed to celebrate the unveiling of their holiday window displays
-The age-old tradition of office gift exchanges, particularly ones where you’re told how much to spend
-Hello. Santa Claus.
Clearly, nobody is giving up their holiday traditions any time soon. However, when discussing how “the spirit of the holiday” has been replaced by consumerism, it might be useful to look at societal elements beyond television commercials that we, as a mass society, have adopted as culturally important. Then, we can recognize them for what they are and begin to develop new traditions (or pick up long forgotten old ones like caroling) that reflect the society we’d like to move towards becoming!
At least that is our holiday wish! What’s your holiday wish? Like us on Facebook and tell us about it!
Looking for ways to spend less and celebrate more this holiday season? Download our free holiday guide, A Very Postconsumer Holiday, for a complimentary how-to on doing just that!