Our contemporary Christmastime is, to put it mildly, materialistic. A lot can be said of the mark capitalism has left on the modern world; poverty, greed, a housing crisis to name a few. We read a lot about the way capitalism rules our lives, but what of the emotional impact of capitalism on a holiday so deeply etched into our yearly cycle.
The decorative nature of Christmas, while certainly over-the-top, is often argued to reflect the spirit of the season. We are told it is a remnant of the traditional Christmastime, a reminder of what the holiday means to those who celebrate; religion, family, joy. However, the millions of pounds spent on lighting up towns and cities across the country every year could surely be spent elsewhere where funding is desperately needed. While soup kitchens struggle to stay open every winter, our towns are decked out in grandeur. Shops spend on Christmas adverts, tugging on the country’s heartstrings, just as they begin to rack up profits from rising prices. The pattern of demand many of us give into at Christmas has little to do with ‘traditional values’.
The millions of pounds spent on lighting up towns and cities across the country every year could surely be spent elsewhere where funding is desperately needed.
There is an argument for the charity Christmas inspires; the donations people make, the love and joy they spread and the communities they support. However, my argument for the modern holiday’s underlying capitalist message lies in the fact society is falling into the habit of marketing Christmas not only as a materialistic holiday but the unique time of the year the above values are remembered. Perhaps in its original form, Christmas did encourage a surge in charitable virtue and kindness, but now these ideas feel like novelties of the season. Kindness is adopted as a concept that sells, as we often see in seasonal adverts. Surely this country, as one which can afford to make Christmas a vivid and magical event, can afford to light a few less cities and instead feed and nurture a few more people in need.