Holidays lost to commercialism

Holidays lost to commercialism

“Lucky me, loving you/ morning, noon and nighttime, too!”With Valentine’s Day just past, I am certain several cards expressing sentiments like the one above were sent out yesterday. The message may be cute, but it is not genuine. It doesn’t express the sender’s feelings toward the recipient. Instead, it is the cheesy brainchild of someone who works in an office building in New York, or wherever Hallmark is based.

Valentine’s Day, while originally an innocent way to commemorate St. Valentine, has been exploited for its ability to generate a profit. Valentine’s Day is a field day for florists and card companies.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Valentine’s Day. But there are better ways to show your loved ones that you care than picking an impersonal card off of a shelf. And furthermore, shouldn’t we show affection to the people we love everyday of the year?

“I have developed a small amount of resentment in regard to (Valentine’s Day’s) commercialization. There is a social expectation that I should present my wife with dinner, flowers, candy, and a card,” said sociology professor Keith Whitworth. “Since this is the social expectation within our culture, the symbolic meaning behind the gifts is diminished. Therefore, at times it seems that corporate America has tainted the holiday and has created a culture that associates love with materialism.”

Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is only one of many holidays overrun by rampant commercialism.

Christmas especially has been plagued by superficiality. Producers have capitalized on Christmas’ gift-giving theme. Lights, presents, last-minute shopping, and Santa Claus have upstaged the true meaning of the season.

“It’s interesting when the feel of the season only comes when the stores start offering discounts and lights go up,” Steve Rupp, a freshman radio-TV-film major said. “It seems that glitz and glamour have overcome spirituality.”

As un-American as it may sound, I have a personal vendetta against Santa Claus. He has nothing to do with what Christmas is intended to be about. Santa is merely a jolly distraction urging us to buy toys and clothing. I don’t know about everyone else, but I haven’t seen Santa present in any nativity scenes.

“The focus of Christmas has increasingly shifted to how much stuff you get and away from how much you give, not just presents, but of yourself and your time,” said Eric Dobbins, a freshman theatre major.

Instead of relaxing and celebrating the holidays joyfully, we become stressed out and consumed by spending money. And what’s more, before we are given the opportunity to truly savor one holiday, stores are flooded with merchandise, advertisements and decorations for the next.

Whitworth said, “A decade ago, department stores waited until after Thanksgiving to promote Christmas merchandise, but now it is not uncommon to see Christmas decorations and merchandise the day after Halloween.” Many students have become disillusioned with the constant pressure of holiday commercialism.

“I hate how before I even have a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving, I am already seeing Christmas stuff in stores,” said Joseph Massoud, a junior radio-TV-film major. “It’s like businesses are telling me to forget about Thanksgiving and start thinking about Christmas.”

Yet another holiday immersed in commercialism is Easter. Easter is meant to be a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. But instead, it is one of the most prevalent commercial opportunities. It is overcome by dramatic sales of greeting cards, Easter eggs and sweets like chocolate bunnies and jellybeans.

“The holidays are continually becoming more commercial as our society is continually being molded by materialism and consumerism,” Whitworth said. “Our purchasing habits are heavily influenced by corporate America and, unfortunately many Americans fall prey to the lure of consumerism.”

Holidays shouldn’t be centered on spending cash. Instead of feeding the consumer ideals, we should take the time to reflect upon what the intention of the celebration is and what the true value of the holiday should be.

Jordan Cohen is a freshman English major for Lewisville, N.C.