Christmas is upon us, and this year is no exception to the frenzy that usually ensues. The much-awaited Christmas adverts are out; shoppers are sharpening their elbows for Black Friday mayhem; and the painstaking task of fairy light detangling has already begun. I for one am a huge lover of Christmas, and by no means am I suggesting that as a nation, we need to dampen this Christmas spirit. But, I do think it’s worth looking at whether all the associated stress (financial or otherwise) is worth it, and whether we can learn from other global traditions.
Of course, trying to see as many of your loved ones as you can is a positive thing. Yet, the expectation that we must see so-and-so who lives in Aberdeen straight after seeing the Jones’ who live in Plymouth causes these visits to simply become items on the to-do list. Instead of squeezing as much travelling as we can into a short amount of time, why don’t we allow each other to let go of this requirement? It is likely impossible to see everyone we promise a mulled wine and a catch up to. Therefore, it seems to me as though making more time for each other over the year out of choice (and not festive pressure) is the much more reasonable and thoughtful option.
“Huge sales and events like Black Friday mean that we are all shopping earlier and earlier to ensure that we get the gift before everyone else snatches it up”
Christmas couldn’t come at a better time for us Brits, as it’s in the thick of depressing winter temperatures, barren trees and shortened days. Therefore, the 25th December is a great time to get together with family and friends to eat, drink and be merry. Unfortunately though, the commercialism of Christmas means that it’s no longer just one day of celebration. Instead, it is weeks – even months – of intense financial and logistical planning. In 2017, The Independent reported that British people will travel ‘116 miles…to see friends, close and extended family’ over the festive period.
Statista revealed that in 2017, 53% of Brits did their Christmas shopping in October-November, and a staggering 10% did it before July! October-November seems like a reasonable time to shop for a December event, but even this is being manipulated by the commercialism of Christmas. Huge sales and events like Black Friday mean that we are all shopping earlier and earlier to ensure that we get the gift before everyone else snatches it up. This creates an almost competitive – and again totally unnecessary – spirit and encourages people to spend as much of their money as soon as they can, despite this may not making financial sense.
“Perhaps a reason why we start our celebrations so early is because we do not have such a strong link to the religious reasoning behind Christmas”
Financially speaking, Christmas has turned into a very expensive time of year. To play devil’s advocate, the conglomerates have done an incredible job of seizing this opportunity to make as much money as possible. However, the TV screaming out that every child must have the in-toy and that Christmas simply it’s Christmas without the best that expensive leading chains have to offer is toxic and ridiculous.
Around the world, things are done a little differently when it comes to the 25th December. In fact, in France it’s the 24th that they’re more interested in. In Italy, Christmas tends to begin on the 8th December (the day of the Immaculate Conception). We may not celebrate the religious aspect of this date, but starting celebrations with about 2 weeks to go until the big day does seem to make more sense than 2 months. Similarly, celebrations in Estonia start with Advent (the 2nd December) and the Christmas tree is usually decorated only a few days before Christmas. Perhaps a reason why we start our celebrations so early is because we do not have such a strong link to the religious reasoning behind Christmas; it has now morphed into a materialistic event rather than a religious one.
Christmas is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year, but I believe that it’s important that we remind ourselves of why we’re going through all this stress and what really matters about the event. Even if you’re not religious, I do believe that at Christmas time we should focus on our loved ones more than we do the gifts. In a years’ time, you are going to remember the people you were with and the memories you made more than the present you received. So why don’t we all agree to let each other off the hook and just enjoy the festive event stress-free.
Featured image courtesy of Eric Mueller via Flikr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here.
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