Face to Face: Is Christmas becoming too commercialized?

Charlotte Seton

Face-to-Face is a feature that allows two members of the Redwood Community to grill each other, argue, or simply converse about a relevant issue or event. We provide the topic, and they do the rest. This month’s participants are juniors Angelica Vohland and Cora Cicala. In the spirit of the holiday season, they discuss the commercialization of the holidays, specifically Christmas.

Is Christmas too commercialized today?

Angelica Vohland: Christmas is definitely too commercialized today. The purpose of the holiday is now to invite children to ask their parents for gifts that [the parents] might not even have enough money to buy in the first place. It centralizes the idea of selfishness, and it takes away from the true meaning that Christianity meant for the holiday itself. The whole idea behind [it] now is to spend money and to increase the wealth within the economy rather than to buy a gift out of the kindness of your heart.

Cora Cicala: I would argue that giving out of the kindness of your heart is the same thing as giving to make people happy. Gifts are something that show your appreciation for another person.

AV: The meaning of Christmas is to be together with your family and to celebrate your connection with your family and friends. But that is no longer the central idea behind Christmas due to the idea of giving gifts to make people happy.

CC: Gift giving does create a basis for a lot of family traditions though. Every Thanksgiving, for example, my family does a white elephant gift exchange where we all get each other gifts and go around in a circle and trade them for fun. It’s a special tradition in my family and something that includes everyone of all ages. So gift giving does bring families together.

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Are the myths like Santa and Frosty the Snowman helpful or hurtful?

CC: I think Santa and Frosty the Snowman are incredibly helpful for building spirit and happiness during the Christmas season. When I was younger, Santa was this mythical character that was so cool to me – that someone cared about me enough to come down my chimney and give me gifts. I’m sure you remember waking up on Christmas morning and knowing that Jack Frost put frost on the tips of the grass and seeing the presents under the tree. It’s just that magical feeling that has been associated with Christmas – that’s something that Santa and Frosty the snowman and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer have built.

AV: Santa is an atrocious figure. He symbolizes selfishness and deceit. That takes away from the real meaning of Christmas. So many children are disappointed when they figure out that Santa doesn’t exist. As a child, that was probably the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Not only is that seriously traumatizing for children, but Santa takes away from the real meaning of Christmas. By including Santa Claus in the advertising and commercialization of Christmas, you are basically telling children it is completely ok to be selfish and greedy. That is the complete opposite of what Christmas is supposed to be.

CC: How is Santa selfish? Santa is a man that works all year to build toys for children around the world and provide happiness for them during the Christmas season. The idea of Santa instills the value of giving in children, because he doesn’t get anything out of giving children toys. He does it to make kids happy.

AV: Although Santa himself is a selfless figure, the idea and expectation that he will give children gifts has created greed and selfishness within younger generations.