The Commercialization of Holidays

BY: Akshat Das, VP Business Development

Mother’s Day. Christmas. Thanksgiving. What do all of these days have in common? They were all created with the intent of spending time with your loved ones, and being thankful for them. The dawn of the 21st century has brought an ugly problem to the forefront. No longer do we cherish our loved ones for simply existing, we only show them our affection if they “show us their love” by giving us materialistic possessions.

Christmas is supposed to be a time when people gather together and celebrate the birth of Christ. That meaning has vanished, as people tend to focus on the commercialized definition of Christmas. People opt to spend thousands of dollars on presents and focusing on the spirit of “getting” rather than the spirit of “giving.” The tranquility of Christmas has been lost due to large corporations seeing Christmas as a period of potential economic stimulus, bolstered by the advertising of Christmas items as early as October.

The same logic applies to the idea of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had originally envisioned Thanksgiving as a period in which families would sit down together and give thanks for each other’s existence. Now, this idea has morphed into people giving thanks for the great deals Target has. A friend of mine said this past Black Friday, “Was it Thanksgiving yesterday? I thought it was Black Friday Eve.” Albeit spoken jokingly, this question merits serious discussion as this attitude is becoming more and more prevalent with the majority of the American population.

The logic behind “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” is truly astounding. These holidays are celebrated so that a child can tell his parent that he truly appreciates all that his parent does for him. There is one main flaw in this reasoning. As children, aren’t we obligated to tell our parents each and every day that we love them, and that they truly mean the world to us? Then why do we single out a day in which we can thank our parents? The answer can be found by looking to the founder of this holiday. In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her deceased mother. Soon after, she began campaigning to make “Mother’s Day” a nationally recognized holiday in the United States. In 1914, her efforts were rewarded by the US government’s decision to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. By the 1920’s, Jarvis herself admitted that she was disappointed with the commercialization of the holiday.

The extent to which commercialization has usurped the kind-hearted approach to holidays is truly disappointing. In the status quo however, such a way of thinking is to be expected. The thinking of the human species began as being content with simple necessities, and has evolved to the current, materialistic view on the world. No longer are we satisfied with receiving an iPhone 5c from our parents, as we have to have the brand new iPhone 5s like all the rest of society.

This problem is exacerbated each year, as when people buy holiday items a month or two before the actual holiday, producers get a taste of the consumer market. They realize that the demand for their products does exist in a period long before the holiday, which causes them to further market their “great sales.” This marketing leads to a spike in the number of goods purchased, which further exacerbates the problem. In the real world, this situation can best be seen by looking to how stores are changing how they treat Black Friday.

Only a couple years ago, stores would open doors for Black Friday only at 12 AM, Friday morning. Currently, stores have realized that if they open their doors slightly earlier, their sales would greatly go up, as people wouldn’t have to endure cold lines in the dark at absurd times. Just this past Black Friday, stores opened doors at 6 PM. On Thursday. The human populace seems to be feeding the problem, rather than doing anything to solve it.

In the long run, there does not seem to be a solution to this problem. In the midst of the technological age, we can only expect people to get more and more materialistic. This problem can best be analyzed by looking at the graph of an exponential curve. As people become more and more materialistic, the more commercialization we will see in regards to holidays.

Do you agree with Akshat’s opinion? Disagree? Let us know in the comments?