AS A SOCIETY ENGROSSED IN MODERN-TECHNOLOGY AND EXPENSIVE THINGS, HAVE WE ALLOWED OUR CONSUMERISM TO BLIND US OF THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS? IMOGEN BYERS TRIES TO FIND OUT WHO HAS STOLEN CHRISTMAS.
Edited by Natalie Whitmore
As we know Christmas originates as a religious holiday, one that sends a message of giving and sharing with others. Proposed by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ, Christmas has been a long and traditional date that’s celebrated in the majority of UK homes. Although only 60% of the British population now actually refer to themselves as Christian, Christmas is still the biggest celebrated day of the year- with the festive period surrounding it being heavily emphasised and rejoiced.
In modern day and age, Christmas is celebrated in Britain in many different ways: Nativity plays portraying the birth of Christ, Christmas carol concerts, Christmas feasts, Christmas trees, advent calendars, and present exchanges; all done in a festive spirit. Undoubtedly, Christmas is a time for celebration and family. However, it’s questionable whether the true meaning of Christmas is still alive.
It is predicted that this year each household will spend an average of £604 buying gifts for Christmas. Ask any young child about what they are looking forward to most about the date and they will say the ‘presents’. And why wouldn’t they? Both receiving presents, and choosing gifts for family and friends, is a joyous experience and it’s one that is encouraged at Christmas. But, has it come to the point that we think more about the consumables we get then the people we share the time with?
Many retailers make more than half their sales and profits for the year in the 3 months leading up to Christmas. You’ll see children whose ages haven’t made it to double digits yet, with more devices then they can count. With less time actively spent with our families, and more spend staring at a screen; it’s a wonder why we even buy into technology at Christmas. But we do. And it reflects a culture of growing expectations- the type of culture which people say is losing its true religious roots.
There is no doubt that people over-spend over Christmas time, but that’s not the only consumerism problem. Over the Christmas period everyone eats much more than they typically would. It is estimated that the average weight gain over the season is 5 pounds per person! That definitely does prove that we can take in more than we are giving out. Forking out in order to enjoy the seasonal festivities is fair as there is no way you can celebrate with a feast without buying food. However, when £2.4 billion a year is being wasted on uneaten/discarded food and gifts, enough wrapping paper is thrown away every year to fully wrap around the Island of Jersey, and credit cards reaching maximum, it’s fair to say that we’ve taken the Christmas indulgences too far.
Yet, food banks and charities are at their peak flow over the Christmas period, reflecting that people do act in the true Christmas spirit. Where UK households are more open to spending, and it’s easier to be generous in the festive and give back to those in need. It is estimated that £50 million a year is raised for charities by the sale of charity Christmas cards, and just think about how that is from the cards alone! All of the Christmas charity events much also raise a substantial amount to make a significant difference.
Overall, it is true to say that we Brits sure do know how to spend over the seasonal festivities, but we also are generous and share the love around and after all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about