Opinion: Is consumerism overshadowing Christmas?

Article and graphic by Tara Elsa, Editor-in-chief

The holidays are a time for celebration and family. But are they still? While many holidays started as celebrations, they have become much more focused on the exchange of gifts and the purchasing of knick-knacks. This has given large companies control of the market and economy.

These large companies want more business and sales from people—or consumers—for personal profit, with whatever means necessary; this is also called consumerism. Consumerism is the act of promoting interests to consumers and often refers to encouraging people to buy unnecessary items. Within the United States, consumerism became more popular in the late 1800s. There was a consumerism boom in the 1920s due to the advancement of technology and society and another boom in the 1950s because of economic growth and rising incomes. The US is a hyper-consumerist society which means that its people dedicate a lot of time, money or other resources to wasteful overconsumption.

Consumerism is still an issue today. Large corporations influence members of society to purchase unnecessary trinkets and items. This is largely encouraged around the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years through businesses encouraging individuals to purchase decorations and other “holiday-themed” items. People end up exchanging many small gifts that won’t be used. Big businesses use this to their advantage, and to the disadvantage of small businesses, to sell more items. For example, most large businesses participate in Black Friday deals where they open a door to a flood of people pushing and shoving each other to get to an item that’s maybe 50% off, and these businesses encourage it.

Some people are unhappy about Christmas also causing a capitalist economy, or an economy and its trade being controlled by private owners. Christmas started as a Christian holiday following pagan traditions that celebrated the winter solstice; but it has become a holiday now centered around family and lots of gift-giving.

Most holidays are like this, however. Valentine’s Day, Saint Patty’s Day, Thanksgiving, New Years and even the Fourth of July are also largely influenced by big businesses. They will convince consumers to buy many items, often unnecessary decorations or small gifts.

This holiday season would be a great opportunity to avoid participating in the consumerism that is brought on by large companies. While some of the issues would be solved if everyone chose not to buy unnecessary gifts and goods, the real issue is the large companies having so much control over the economy and society.

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