Holy Christmas Lest Materialism

Jan 7 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Christmas is perhaps one of the most festive holidays next to Timket or Epiphany. Although it is not celebrated outdoors, it still leaves its mark even after it has gone, shining with decorated trees and ornaments. For as long as I remember, my family celebrated Christmas with a natural pine tree with minimal decorations that stayed up even after the holiday.

We did not exchange gifts until my aunt started the tradition by handing me my first postcard.

History records that the gradual commercialization of Christmas has been occurring for centuries. While the holiday has its roots in religious traditions, it has become increasingly secularized and commercialized over time. Christmas is celebrated worldwide with gift-giving, family gatherings, and festive decorations. However, how it is celebrated has evolved from its inception, and the holiday has become a significant source of consumer spending and economic activity.

I do not have a problem exchanging gifts and recognizing the people with presents. But, exaggerating it may lead to a world of materialism.

People use the occasion for another festive gathering, but Christmas should be about remembering the less fortunate. Extravagant celebrations should not overshadow the purpose of a simple life void of worldly possessions.

What should matter as opposed to going overboard with gifts is the reason behind it. Quality time sometimes could come in the form of presents.

In the western world, the rise of department stores and the emergence of advertising in the late 19th and early 20th centuries influenced the transformation of Christmas into a more commercial holiday. Department stores began to decorate their stores for the holiday season and used advertising to promote their holiday sales and attract customers. This helped to create a sense of excitement and anticipation around Christmas, and it also encouraged people to buy more gifts for their loved ones.

As Christmas became commercialized, it became standardized. The holiday was no longer just a time for religious observances but for people to exchange gifts and participate in festive activities. This standardization was facilitated by expanding the retail industry, as more stores began offering a wide range of holiday-themed products. As a result, the way people celebrated Christmas became more homogenized, and it became more accessible for people to participate in the holiday regardless of their cultural or religious background.

Commercialization has also led to some negative occurrences. Finding the perfect gifts for a loved one and the pressure to buy more presents can be stressful and lead to overspending and financial strain. The focus on consumerism can distract from the holiday's more profound meaning and lead people to place more emphasis on material possessions rather than relationships and personal growth.

Despite these challenges, the holiday remains a time of great significance. For many, it is a time to come together with family and friends and to reflect on the year that has passed. It is also a time to express appreciation and show love and kindness.

While the celebration has changed over time, Christmas is still a beloved worldwide holiday. It continues to bring joy and happiness to people of all ages, whether through exchanging gifts, singing carols, or enjoying festive decorations.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 07,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1184]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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