I’m all for the commercialisation of Christmas

2011-12-19 08:05

Chris Moerdyk

It has become entirely predictable that during the Christmas every year there is a lot of complaining from conservative Christians about the crass commercialisation of Christmas.

While I suppose it is perfectly natural to react with more than mild irritation at the way Christmas has been turned from a holy day into a profit-motivated holiday, I often wonder what Christ would have done if he had walked out of the temple from which he turfed all those money-lenders two millennia ago, straight into this modern world of ours to see what a fiasco mankind was making of his birthday.

Would he have shaken his head with despair at the sight of all those non-Christian shopkeepers decking their stores with holly, mistletoe and fake snow and exhorting their customers to celebrate the birth of Christ by handing out soap-on-a-rope and  saucy underwear to their loved ones?

What would He have thought about all those people, who had never seen the inside of a church nor allowed His name to enter their frames of reference other than as a blasphemous swear-word? And all their rushing round for weeks before Christmas spending absolute fortunes on lavish gifts and slavish self-indulgence?

And what about those companies sending Christmas gifts to customers for the sole purpose of securing future business with not an iota of goodwill and peace on earth?

Just how would He react to hearing the plaintive cry about putting Christ back into Christmas drowned about by the cacophony of commercialism?

Frankly, I don't think He would be in the least bit angry.

Because there are two ways of looking at this so-called Christmas abuse. The first is to let human nature take its course and succumb to the temptation to rally against all those profiteering people muscling in on Christian territory.

The other is to look at the positive aspects to the commercialisation of Christmas. Every year billions upon billions of Rands are spent on Christmas - again, mostly for all the wrong reasons. So what?

Just think about how much employment that creates. Millions of otherwise poverty stricken and jobless people have gainful employment as a direct result of the commercialisation of Christmas and are able to support their families.

So, perhaps putting Christ back in to Christmas does not mean campaigning against  shopkeepers and greedy corporations but celebrating the massive contribution Christmas makes toward poverty relief?

Which in turn makes one wonder if material aspiration does not perhaps fall into the same category. Is mankind's obsession with possessions, wealth,  fashion, food and exotic lifestyles,  completely bad and contrary to the very ethos of  most religions?

That rich people who spend their money lavishly are actually doing good in the world?

Now, that's a million dollar question for you. All I know is that if there were no BMW's or Ferraris or holidays on Mauritius or the ski slopes of the world, the level of unemployment and poverty around the globe would be a thousand times worse than it is right now.

So, while it is unquestionably the duty of all Christians to try and put Christ back into Christmas,   perhaps they should do so without resorting to fanaticism or blind obsession lest they  inadvertently condemn millions of less fortunate fellow beings to death by depriving them of their jobs.

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  • Craig - 2011-12-19 08:36

    Spoken like a true capitalist. Nothing wrong with that. But the idea that BMW and Ferraris on the roads, and holidays to Mauritius make poor people better off is about as absurd as the Republican idea that taxing the uber-rich is a form of European socialism. Planet Earth realised in about 1928 that "trickle-down" does not work, and in fact consigns millions of souls to abject poverty relieved only by the seasonal crusts of bread thrown out the window by the aforementioned uber-rich. Not that there is anything wrong with being rich, I hasten to add, before some indignant News24 regular spills his brandy and coke.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-19 14:28

      I think that the peasants should thank their stars rich people drive BMWs. It gives them a job and also gives them something to aspire to. :-)

  • Brian - 2011-12-19 08:54

    Please provide references to "lot of complaining from conservative Christians about the crass commercialisation of Christmas".

  • ckrummeck - 2011-12-19 08:58

    December 25 is not Christ's birthday; He was born more around the end of September on our calendar.

      Craig - 2011-12-19 11:07

      Apparently the reason Santa Claus wears red and white is to symbolise blood on snow - an ancient archetypal image which our pagan ancestors would very much have related to - the slaughtering of the livestock during the long winter months. A violent but ultimately holistic view and understanding of time as a circle, not a linear progression. If that is the case, then Santa Claus could be said to symbolise the death of innocence - a time when the youngest person in the house has to say goodbye to the family's livestock, and in doing so comes face to face with mortality, both literally and figuratively. As winter symbolises one form of death, so too does Spring herald a rebirth, and so the wheel of time and of life turns - again this is an idea pagan societies would have related to. I find this ironic seeing as Christmas spending results in so many people being led by their credit cards into the red, like lambs to the slaughter.

      GLY - 2011-12-19 11:25

      Craig, I don'tknow where you get this from. I suspect that it is totall untrue.

      Craig - 2011-12-19 11:51

      @GLY You are of course perfectly entitled to your own opinions. It is, however, a brave man who dares argue with Terry Pratchett.

      stuart.steedman - 2011-12-19 12:44

      Craig, I smelt "Hogfather" all over your post :-) Viva Pratchett...

      mastersvoice - 2011-12-20 10:09

      Unless, of course, Jesus never actually existed...

  • Grant - 2011-12-19 09:13

    The comparison to Christ turfing the money lenders is perhaps misleading. That was a case of being angry at the desecration of the house of God; on the other hand Christmas is a big birthday celebration, which is a completely different matter which makes spending on gifts entirely acceptable. Note that Christ never considered returning his gifts of gold, francincense and myrrh out of protest against the lavishness of it all. Similarly he also didn't object to Mary washing His feet with her expensive ointment, rather than selling it for money for food for the poor. Taking my lead from Christ's separation of responsibility to God vs the responsibility of paying tax to Caesar, and from His chasing the money lenders out of the temple, I would guess His view would be that business is just business - as long as you use fair weights and stay out of the temple, business is simply amoral trading of goods and services - while spirituality means disconnecting from the rush of the world and focusing on God... which is happening anyway... I mean when ever has the Christmas shopping rush happened on December 25th? Shops are always dead quiet on that day, while most people are in church and with their families, leading me to believe that the contrasted frenzied shopping in the days leading up to Christ's birthday serve the fantastic purpose of accentuating the holiness of Christmas Day itself. Just a thought. I know many fellow Christians would disagree.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-19 16:20

      The day they close the last church is the first day we may have peace.

      Vaaldonkie - 2011-12-19 19:19

      That's what Mao Zedong said.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-19 09:20

    yes why not lets enrich the upper class and lets continue to let the middle class support know what it doesn't matter what anyone says, you'll just carry on believing the lie and buying into the upper class propaganda anyway.

  • Craig - 2011-12-19 11:10

    One last comment - here in Muscat, Oman, they shopping stores all have giant Christmas trees. Whether this is proof that Oman is indeed the most tolerant Sultunate is neither here nor there. What it might show is that money transcends even religious conviction. Perhaps this post will go a tiny, tiny way to making people think differently about "all Muslims" this festive season. Just a thought.

  • Tony - 2011-12-19 11:49

    As a person who loves Jesus and tries to live my life according to His guidance I don't agree with a wasteful society at any time of the year. However, Christmas has a way of bringing out the good in people. For many this will be one of the few times when they will teach their kids to think of others and to give. As a Christian, I see Christmas as the greatest marketing campaign on earth. An opportunity for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to share it with the world. Every person, regardless of faith should use this incredible marketing opportunity to promote, peace, love and a Christ-like life style in the hope of creating a better life for all.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-19 18:29

      Atheitis they will never understand. They don't even get that by saying 'live like a Christian' they are judging Other, something their big books of rhymes expressly forbids. :-)

  • Vaaldonkie - 2011-12-19 13:33

    Yes, in stead of investing your money, you should spend it at the mall and make someone else rich. Very clever.

  • Bathabile - 2011-12-20 11:22

    For me Christ expelling money lenders from the temple is symbolic of my own attitude towards the love of money. It must not reside in me and must be removed at the urgency and attitude showed at the temple by Christ, indeed Scripture says I'm the temple of the Holy Spirit. Should Christmas be commercialized? Well, it doesn't make any difference in my life and I know God has the power to use even commercialized Christmas for good for the people who love Him and are called to his purpose. I will always remember that on the day Christ was born, "the Word became flesh" and that will never change!

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