Is Christmas Under Attack?

Dec 032006
Authors: Andy Nicewicz

People often complain about a so-called War on Christmas and claim the true meaning of the holiday has been lost to materialism and commercialization.

Retailers step up their advertising campaigns to get as many people to buy as much as they can afford (and sometimes more) in their stores. And being that time of year, these stores are decorated with trees, lights and stockings, while Christmas songs play in the background.

But besides the fact that all this has been going on since about Halloween, is the commercialization of the holidays really as bad as it’s cracked up to be?

When you think about it, all the spending we do this time of year can actually be considered a tribute to the spirit of the holiday; when people go Christmas shopping, they are usually buying presents to give to their friends and loved ones.

After all, the biggest shopping days of the year can be specifically attributed to people buying things for each other. People swarm to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving in what has become known as “Black Friday.” Others prefer a less hectic option and wait to do their shopping on “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving and the biggest online shopping day of the year. So when all this commotion is caused by people buying things not for themselves but for others, I think that’s pretty special. That’s not materialism; that’s generosity (even if it’s a sort of culturally-forced generosity).

Even people who don’t have any religious affiliation participate in this annual tradition of giving. Perhaps it could even be argued that the commercialization of Christmas has at least brought the spirit of giving to those who attribute no other significance to the holiday.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a bad side to all this, because there most certainly is. First of all, I have to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks sing in their ear-piercing squeaky voices. But probably more importantly, religious beliefs are trivialized just so companies can make a profit. Many people get stressed out and some even go into debt trying to get the right gift for everyone.

But hey, that’s capitalism! If you are offended by it, do your Christmas shopping at a place that doesn’t use Christmas as a sales ploy. Or better yet, move to China. The commercialization of Christmas certainly isn’t a problem over there.

Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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