Commercialised Christmas

Gayatri Sankar

Christmas is an auspicious occasion that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ to Virgin Mary. This day marks the divine’s coming to Earth. Jesus, the messenger of God graced the earth with his divine presence, who showed mankind how to live life and love fellow beings.

Jingle bells, Christmas trees, ornamentations, the sleigh and the Santa Claus are integral parts of this joyous festival. I vividly remember the story of Jim and Della, who want to buy a beautiful Christmas present for each other but they can’t afford to do so. The two characters from O Henry’s classic story, ‘The Gift Of The Magi’ show the true meaning of love, sacrifice and the relevance Christmas. They are indeed true love personified. But sadly, the true spirit of this auspicious day is fading away.

As a child, I used to wait impatiently for Christmas to come so that I could spend time with my family and friends, sing Christmas Carols, pay a visit to the church and have delicious meals together. It was also a time for me to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ and invite Santa Claus home, expecting a present from him. It was indeed a day worth treasuring. But off late, the simplicity of the ‘big day’ is gradually being washed away and all one can see is thorough commercialisation of rituals.

Santa is no doubt an essential part of the celebration. But sadly, he is becoming more important than Jesus. We see Santa in various forms of commercialised products. Santa is no longer the one who gives you Christmas presents, he himself has become a product!

Prayers during Christmas have taken a backseat and I could relate to a Bishop’s sentiments when he recently expressed his disappointment over Santa’s popularity. The retired Manila Bishop, Teodoro Bacani said, “Santa Claus helps promote consumerism because he is the symbol of shopping and gift-giving. Christ symbolizes the sacrifice of life for man. But Santa has a more commercial draw."

Commercialisation has had far reaching effects on festivals across the globe. Its impact has tainted true religious meanings and traditional customs. The growing trend of globalisation has cast negative impression on age old beliefs.

People tend to celebrate festivals not only as a customary practice, but also as a means to exercise their spending power.

The Bishop who belongs to Philippines, a country where more than 80% of the people are Catholic, Santa Claus has become too popular. He is of the opinion that Christmas is eventful because of the birth of Jesus alone and not because of Santa, who had made it a “Holiday or rather a commercial day”.

According to him Philippines has become a hub for crazy shoppers.

Likewise, Bishop Bacani is disturbed about the depressing fact that Santa has replaced Jesus and images of Santa Claus are peppered thought-out the country. So he said, "Let us keep Christ at Christmas. Let us project Christ at Christmas".

December, 25, is no longer about celebrating the birthday of the divine soul. It is a day when “shopoholics” succumb to the ever growing popularity of globalisation.

In other words, festivals are no longer simple religious practices but are ways when merchants make their fortunes. In course of time, the true meaning of festivals will remain confined to the history books.

Here’s wishing Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to one and all, hoping that the auspicious day will be celebrated the way it is meant to be.