As soon as the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, stores rush to put away the Halloween decorations, and only moments later, the Christmas decorations are displayed on the shelves. Christmas music is blasted, boring coffee cups are traded for dazzling Christmas cups, and people quickly fall into the holiday spirit, making their lists and checking it twice.
Once Black Friday hits, the next month is followed by the stress and anxiety of searching for the perfect gifts for your loved ones. The Hallmark channels’ views skyrocket, as people gather around and watch their favorite Christmas movies as a part of their holiday activities. Each year, Christmas becomes more commercialized and the true meaning of Christmas is lost.
One popular Christmas movie, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” is a movie that grounds us in the true meaning of the holiday with its great message. In the movie, innocent children remind everyone of the superficial and materialistic holiday Christmas has come to be. When the movie was first released in 1965, “…it was greeted with skepticism and disappointment by the CBS and Coca-Cola executives who had originally bankrolled the special” (Kim).
In a scene from the movie, Charlie Brown is outraged over the overwhelming materialism he sees among everyone during the holiday season, and he needs Linus’ help to learn what the true meaning of Christmas is. This movie reminds people of the true meaning of the holiday: simply spending joyful time surrounded by loved ones.
Many people also uphold Charlie Brown’s views on Christmas, while others get wrapped up in the extravagance of the holiday like Snoopy does as he decks out his doghouse with lights and other holiday paraphernalia. Charlie Brown had it right though, as “over $450 billion dollars are spent in the US during December” (D’Angelo). Instead of giving to organizations in need with all this money, we unnecessarily stress ourselves out for a month as we buy gifts that somehow display how much we love our family and friends.
Christmas began with a baby in a manger, yet has strayed so far from that in the years followed. As the Puritans came to America, they made it illegal to celebrate the holiday in the 1600s. As the years crept on, the holiday was then about drinking to your heart’s content.
In the 19th century, German immigrants and Catholic Dutch introduced the idea of gift giving and St. Nicholas to America. From there, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol created the image of Father Christmas and “Marketers in New York saw the personification of Christmas as an opportunity to sell goods and began to associate this early image of Santa Claus with their advertisements in the 1840s” (Takahashi).
Then in the 1930s, mass commercialization took over. Popular Christmas songs were released, stores began to create holiday images in stores and catalogs with the modernized Santa Claus, and jingles were created to interrupt programming. Children for the first time were advertised to, which guilted the parents into buying presents for their kids from Santa.
The celebration of Christmas began to branch out: “The secularization of Christmas was also intentional…The idea was to create a holiday season that all Americans, Christians and non-Christians, could experience. By sharing the joy, they would also spend more money” (Takahashi). Phrases such as “Happy Holidays,” which includes the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, were adopted and the holiday became more universal.
In today’s world, people have lost sight of the true meaning of the holiday. Yes, a thoughtful gift for your loved one can be a perfect way to show how much you care, but the constant advertising and stress of Christmas almost overrides the joy the holiday should provide. We need to reconnect with the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate the holidays as they were always meant to be.
D’Angelo, Noah. “Christmas Is Too Commercial.” The BluePrint, thebablueprint.com/7227/student-life/christmas-is-too-commercial/. Accessed 08 December 2020.
Kim, Jonathan. “Why ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Remains A Subversive, Anomalous Class.” Medium, Rethink Reviews, 11 Dec. 2018, medium.com/rethink-reviews/why-a-charlie-brown-christmas-remains-a-subversive-anomalous-classic-c11b8d285b5. Accessed 08 December 2020.
Takahashi, Arthur. “Is Christmas Too Commercial? Well, That’s the Reason It Became Popular.” Jagwire, 18 Dec. 2018, jagwire.augusta.edu/is-christmas-too-commercial-well-thats-the-reason-it-became-popular/. Accessed 08 December 2020.