I’d like to begin by saying I am by no means a ‘Christmas scrooge’. In fact, I would go as far as saying Christmas is my favourite time of the year, what’s not to like about getting time off university and celebrating with your family with a few drinks and lots and lots of food along the way? However, nowadays Christmas is all about presents and the stress that comes with buying presents, especially for those with young children. Although I doubt there are very many people that would change the idea of exchanging gifts at Christmas, including myself.
I personally believe that Christmas has become far too commercial. Christmas is a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, although I must admit I wouldn’t say I’d be the best Christian but I would always attend church on Christmas Day. However, this is becoming less and less common as years go on, kids now grow up thinking a man named Santa is generous enough to bring them gifts if they are well behaved while missing the real meaning of Christmas. People generally get more excited about the famous Coca Cola advert than the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it.
In my eyes, Christmas has become all about getting the biggest, most expensive presents and having the best Christmas decorations in your street. It has almost turned into a competition – “I have better decorations than you do” or “I got better presents for my kids than you did” it’s becoming ridiculous. I had a conversation with a member of staff in my work last week and he told me he has been working 50-55 hours a week for the past month to save up money for his kids because they have written ‘Santa letters’ worth over £500 each. I thought to myself that it’s crazy that you’re working these long overtime hours because your kids live in a generation that Christmas is all about presents, which has resulted in putting yourself through all this stress to save money to buy these presents whenever you could settle for buying you kids less and instead spend more time with them coming up to the festive period rather than being stuck in Tesco, which I can guarantee they would appreciate more in the long run.
Working in retail, I witness at first hand the mayhem that evolves around this time of the year. I see mums, dads, boyfriends and girlfriends running around in panic, spending as much money as they need to keep everyone content with their Christmas presents. People simply spend money at will without worrying how much they are spending in order to fit in with the commercial aspect of Christmas, rather than its true meaning. Having said this, I still agree that presents are a nice gesture at Christmas and they add to the celebrations, however I feel there would be a much more balanced spread between basing Christmas around presents and remembering the real meaning behind it.
Although all that I’ve mentioned above isn’t always the case, there are still a small number, in fact a very small number of people that ignore all the hype and teach their children to live by the true meaning of Christmas rather than the modern commercialised version. In the 1950’s the average child would get up on Christmas day and go to church in full Christmas spirit, knowledgeable of what Christmas really meant. He or she then would have come home and perhaps received a few presents. However, in today’s world kids get up as early as 6am and open an entire stocking worth of presents that their parents have no doubt worked very hard to purchase. After opening all the presents some kids would be forced by their parents to attend church or in some cases the family would forget about church and enjoy the rest of their day. The excitement around Christmas is buying and receiving presents rather than celebrating the birth of Jesus, therefore I can conclude than Christmas has become extremely commercialised.
Rory McAllister is a final year BSc in Communication, Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: @R_McAllister14 on Twitter.