REINVENTING THE HOLIDAYS FOR CAPITALISM
“Once again the Holidays are upon us. The indoctrination begins and it’s spend, spend, spend.”
By Allen Sands
Attention Walmart Shoppers! Image (above) from “Shaun of the Dead”.
Our holidays are predicated on an extraction, production and consumption model. This model is fueled by the mass-media and advertising that permeates every aspect of our lives. Virtually every time we logon to our favorite websites, news outlets or social media; we’re being tempted, coerced or told that our wants are more important than our needs.
We celebrate our holidays; Christmas or Epiphany every year on December 25th to commemorate the birth of Christendom’s namesake, Jesus Christ. But for about the first 300 years after his death, his birthday was never celebrated. The first recorded reference to Jesus’ birthday dates back to December 25th, 336 AD. Celebrating the Birth of Jesus on the 25th does not verify his date of birth however, only the day on which it was celebrated.
Many of the pre-Christian religions celebrated the Winter Solstice. As a matter of convenience and political expediency, Christmas was celebrated around the same time. Eventually as Christianity began to take Europe by storm, most of the prominent pagan belief systems had been wiped out. By Cromwell’s time England had been thrust into puritanical reformation and Christmas was once again outlawed.
Early Christians regarded the baptism and resurrection of Jesus as the critical periods in his life, not his birthday. As a matter of fact several religions today find the celebration of any birthdays to be irreverent and inappropriate; Jehovah’s Witnesses for example. According to some historians, as early as 1620 celebrating Christmas was considered an offense by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans.
The Weihnachtsbaum or Christmas tree was a product of 19th Century Germany. The tree is said to represent the pagan celebrations of Winter Solstice as evergreen boughs would have been part of the ceremonial worship. Many throughout history have attempted to reveal the actual date of Jesus’ birth with dates ranging from all over the board, including: May 20, April 18, April 19, May 28, January 2, November 17, November 20, March 21 and March 25 (Source).
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon have much to do with influencing the popularity of Christmas through their writings and by the 1800’s Christmas was back in full swing. It wasn’t until after the Civil War when a New York City department store had its first Christmas sale, that the holiday shopping season was invented and by 1870 Christmas was declared a federal holiday.
SPEND, SPEND, SPEND
The world’s top religions all have traditional celebrations around the same time of year, whether it is in celebration of the birth of Jesus or not. And each tradition is dependent as much upon capitalism as it is on spirituality and fraternity. The Christmas economy is one of wonder and dismay and the holidays begin with Thanksgiving as the precursor to the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday.
Black Friday is when many Americans in the retail industry are expected to sacrifice their own holiday time as well as a good night’s sleep after Thanksgiving with their families and loved ones to be at work before the crack of dawn the next day. People will be camping out in front of their place of employment at 3 am to kick off the spirit of Christmas with a bang the moment the pearly blue gates of Walmart open up to the anxious masses.
And by the time it’s all said and done, after those vintage red and green plaid pants have made their debut at a couple of holiday gatherings; and America’s wrapping paper, Styrofoam and blister packs have made their way into the landfills, we can all sit back for a week and get ready for booze, burgers and football. For New Year’s marks the time of year when we drink out the old and ring in…the same old shit.
Merry Christmas everyone!