Christmas is a taboo subject this time of year. From the second the clock strikes twelve on November 12, the sound of Christmas carols fill the malls, festive lighting drowns out the stars on every corner and aggressive shoppers battle it out in toy departments across the country. But for every person screaming Christmas tunes at the top of their lungs there is another dumping on the holiday. So why is Christmas so controversial?
Christmas started out as a religious holiday. Despite its pagan origins, Christmas is most well-known as a Christian festival celebrated on Dec. 25. It is a time when many Christians gather for mass and celebrate Jesus’ birthday. However, since the early 20th century, Christmas has largely become a secular family holiday that many people Christians and non-Christians alike, celebrate. The holiday is marked by the exchange of gifts, vibrant decorations and good ol’ St. Nick.
For a long time, Christmas was one of the most well-known and openly celebrated winter celebrations in Canada. However, there has since been a holiday revolution. Nicknamed “the war on Christmas” many schools and workplaces are banning the celebration of Christmas all together, treating it like a political statement and an agent of discrimination. This additionally removes any celebration of other winter holidays like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
Despite my Grinch-like tendencies, this war is one that doesn’t need to be fought. The solution to exclusion is never more exclusion but instead should involve the celebration and education on all of the holidays this time of year. The winter season is meant to bring people together and spread joy, not tear things apart. Happy holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, they all have a similar meaning when shared with love.
However, religion is not the sole contentious issue with Christmas.
The consumer holiday
Christmas is a consumer holiday, fueled by greed under the guise of giving. Forced giving is the practice of buying presents under outside pressures and is an event that is all too familiar during the holiday season. Excluding the presents that people keep out of guilt, each year about 15 per cent of all retail purchases at Christmas are returned. That money could have easily gone towards a charitable donation, unpaid debt from other unnecessary Christmas presents or even as a cash gift instead.
This practice of forced giving is toxic for not only the individual but for the economy as well. Without the month of December, many retail stores would go under, with Christmas taking up about 400 billion dollars in sales and then declining by four to five per cent immediately after. Additionally, it puts pressure on parents to shower their children with toys, contributing to materialistic ideals and measuring self-worth on pointless objects. Why not take the hundreds of dollars spent every Christmas and put it towards treating yourself or someone you love? This seems like a better alternative to throwing it away on a gift to your mother-in-law that she’ll probably hate.
The most wonderful time of the year
“The most wonderful time of the year” has a largely negative impact on mental health. Media hype about the season’s merriments raises expectations and is the perfect set up for disappointment. Not only that but it often leaves those who don’t celebrate the holiday or whose families don’t fit into the traditional family, out in the cold. Women in particular struggle during this time of year as they are forced to balance work with the traditional roles forced upon them during the holidays. This is on top of the emotional stress associated with encouraged overspending and compulsory displays of affection.
One of my personal pet peeves this time of year is Christmas music.
I. Hate. Christmas. Music.
With the exception of “What’s This” from the Nightmare Before Christmas and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” Christmas covers bring out the worst in artists. With cringey lyrics, insipid melodies and nauseating attempts at Christmas cheer, all I want for Christmas is to never hear that song again. According to a 2018 study, I’m not wrong to feel this way. Listening to Christmas music on repeat can actually have negative connotations on the brain. It was found to interfere with concentration, forcing the listener to be unable to think of anything but Christmas and leaving them distracted and irritable in the aftermath.
Corrupted by corporations and using mind control through mediocre music, Christmas has been stripped down into a commercial holiday. For its many celebrants, it marks a time for love and a hard-earned break but for others it’s a literal nightmare. Ultimately, the problem isn’t with Christmas itself but with the way that people celebrate it. Bah humbug.