By Daniel Robb ’10
The Christmas season brings with it many things: lights, trees, food, smells, traditions, highly decorated malls and stores with Christmas sales.
It also brings controversy about many of these things. The commercialization of Christmas has become rampant, and it is a good thing.
The hullabaloo that emerges is rather absurd. People begin asking us to remember “the reason for the season,” as there are others who wish for it to be referred to as “X-mas” when not in reference to Christ’s birth.
However, the most important effect that commercialization has is it takes the focus off of Christianity, and places it elsewhere.
This allows for there to be a completely open atmosphere. The holiday comes to include everyone, not just people of a certain religious belief. This is rather fitting considering that the holiday and much of the traditions have their origins in a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, rather than the birth of Jesus.
Christmas has become a time of the year when we can truly see the beauty of achievement. A simple walk through a city or mall becomes a spectacular experience. The myriad lights and decorations make for a wonderful and free display that wouldn’t be available without the commercial aspect of Christmas.
The holiday has also become an opportunity for people to show off their skills in creating those decorations. The human ingenuity involved in all aspects of the displays, shows and crafts that appear around Christmas is dazzling.
In a sense, it becomes a celebration of humanity. It allows people from all backgrounds to participate in a beautiful commercial tradition.
And on a deeper level, it becomes a celebration of exchange, which is one of the most important of human developments.
This manifests itself in the commercial tradition of purchasing gifts. You buy gifts for others, with the expectation (admitted or not) of also receiving gifts. It is a process that is at the core of everything that made humans progress from their early stages of development.
For something that is so central to everything we now identify as being “human,” it certainly should have a celebration.
Overt or not, Christmas has become just that.
Its simple and obvious demonstration of exchange, in the form of gift giving and receiving, is a wonderful testament to the principle.
It fosters a spirit, not only of giving, but of receiving. Both of which are noble pursuits.
We give to those close to us to acknowledge their importance in our lives, and the giving makes us happy. And the acknowledgement is returned.
Christmas, through commercialization, hasn’t therefore had its meaning diminished, but expanded and deepened. It has become a celebration of exchange and human invention, a celebration that everyone can take part in.