The following is a research paper I wrote in high school about Christmas.
The day after Thanksgiving begins the holiday season with a mad shopping spree. Stores open earlier allowing consumers to spend more money. It marks the beginning of ‘Consumas’ or ‘Giftmas’ also know as the Christmas season, it has turned into an over-commercialized holiday. The traditions and the meaning of the season have been lost in all the hype of the world. Corporations are marketing holiday paraphenalia at a reasonable price and making a nice profit for themselves. This is turning Christmas into a consumer driven celebration.
How Christmas Began
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. The annual celebration of the nativity scene didn’t begin until the fourth century. Because there wasn’t one religion that would agree exactly which day Jesus Christ was born on Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth will be celebrated on December 25th, in 350. Easter is the most important Christian holiday in that it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, but a U.S. News/Bozell poll stated that church-goers believe Christmas is the most significant Christian holiday. There are many who believe that Christmas is a “Christianization” of a pagan festival called Saturnalia.
Pagans vs. Puritans
The Puritans have clearly stated that “Christmas was nothing but a pagan festival covered with a Christian veneer (Sheler, 60). The Pagans celebrate the Godess of Nature on December 25, by drinking, feasting, partying, and exchanging elaborate gifts with each other. It is belieed that when Pope Julius I declared December 25 as the birthday of Christ, he was doing the Pagan Romans a favor and combining the two holidays. There is a lot of controversy today about who celebrated Christmas first, the Lutherans or the Catholics. Pagans are worldly people who celebrate their wealth, many of our traditions have originated from the Pagans such as the gift-giving, and the feasting, and making merry of the day with worldy decorations, instead of nativity scenes. The American culture has taken Pagan ideas and has expounded on them. The Puritans have opposite beliefs of the Pagans. They believe that the focus of Christmas should be on Christ and the have named Santa Clause the Anti-Christ, because he has pushed Jesus out of the Christmas picture. Santa Cclause is a mythical character who believes in justice (giving only to good girls an boys, not bad ones) and Jesus is a real person who believes in unconditional love, and mercy.
Traditions That Come from Religion
Traditions are important during the holidays because it brings structure and religious values in families (Brazelton, 46). Many of our Christmas rituals have originated from long ago, and some have been recently added. In ancient Rome Mummers were a group of costumed eople who would travel from house to house and sing to entertain their neighbors. From this the tradition of caroling was born. agans believed that Hollyberries were a food of the Gods, and have stayed a symbol of Christmas since. Evergreen trees in homes is to serve as a reminder to the people in the house that their crop would soon grow again, and also served as good luck. Some beliee that trees in the home remind us of the true tree of life, Christ. There are many traditions that come from ancient history. Some fo the newer traditions that American culture has adopted are Santa Clause and modern Christmas storeis boasting the ‘real meaning of Christmas’. These traditions are being fueld by big corporations out to make more money.
Christmas is Now Over Commercialized
In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving feast from November 30 to November 23, the fourth Thursdey of every November. After the depression sales had gone down so much that allowing more time to the seasons would help boost the economy. “The shopping seasons now pumps and eestimated $37 billion into the nation’s economy – making the American Christmas larger than the gross national product of Ireland.” (Sheler, 64).
Christmas is a holiday that is deeply rooted in the marketplace. Historians are searching for a time when Christmas was as commercialized as it is now and they are starting to find out that Christmas was never really about Christ’s birth but more about seasonal traditions. These seasonal traditions have grown and hanged shape into most of our current traditions that revolve around money. Even the tradition of Santa Clause is a current invention!
Santa Claus was invented by Dr. Clement Clark Moore when he wrote a poem in 1822 called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” This popular poem begins “Twas’ the night before Christmas . . . ” It was from this peom that the idea of eight flying reindeer, and the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace, and Santa traveling up and down chimneys originated from. In his famous peom he also described how Santa Claus looks. It wasn’t until Thomas Nast painted pictures to go along with Moores poem that ideas of what Santa Claus looks like came about. Nast added even more folklore to Moores poem, with illustrations depicting Santa Claus living at the North Pole, his workshops full of elves making toys, and Santa Clauses list of all the good and bad children in the world. In 1931 Coca-Cola made a contributon to the picture of the modern Santa Claus. They advertised a human-sized Santa drinking a human sized coke (contrary to Moores poem about Santa being miniature. (Bucher) Not much later the film Miracle on 34th Street was produced and has become a TV tradition to air during the holiday season. This helped lead Christmas into the commerical age of Christmas. It associated buying with Santa Clause, and major department stores such as Macys.
Since then buying has turned into a huge tradition with many roots. Some say from the three wise men bringing the Christ child Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, and some say it’s because Christmas is a Pagan holiday. Whatever the reason for the gifts, Christmas bring in major revenues for big businesses.
Traditions Can Help Take the Commercialism out of Christmas
Traditions such as picking out the Christmas tree as a family, and making presents for one another can encourage family togetherness. Dr. Brazelton suggests that “Occasions for buying present help us to gain more knowledge about each other.” While trying to figure out what to get for someone you have to think about their likes and dislikes. This can encourage people to get to know more about each other in selecting a present for them.
The Grinch’s Realization
“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore,
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas” he thought, “Doesn’t come form a store.
Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, 1957