OK. Now they’ve gone too far. Christmas advertising this year began in September! Some stores are now beginning the holiday season as soon as they take down their back-to-school decorations. The Hallmark Channel is advertising its Christmas movies already.
Now, I love Christmas as much as anyone, but do we have to celebrate it for the entire fourth quarter of the year? There was a time, not too long ago, when Thanksgiving was the Christmas firewall. Nobody dared begin Christmas advertising until the turkey was cleared from the table. All this pent-up Christmas demand soon erupted into a media-created shopping holiday – Black Friday. And as soon as that became established, it became necessary to advertise the pre-Black-Friday sales beginning just after Halloween.
Halloween held up for many years as the new Christmas advertising firewall. In fact, all the attention that Halloween received as we focused on it as the prelude to the Christmas season transformed it from the kid’s day it used to be to a sort of Fall Carnivale. It’s much more popular as an adult holiday today than it ever was when we were kids.
But now it seems that the Halloween firewall is giving way as well. Oh sure, the Rockettes don’t open their Christmas show until just after Halloween, but especially in the online world, Christmas in October and even September is a reality. Think I’m exaggerating? Have a look.
The commercialization of Christmas is nothing new. In fact, it was the theme of, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” nearly 50 years ago. But what we have today is simply out-of control capitalism.
Religious Christians have long complained that American society has secularized Christmas to the point where it is no longer recognizable as a religious holiday. I think that the fact that many American children of Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds hang up stockings and await the visit of Santa Claus every December 25th is a testament to the fact that there is no longer any Christ left in the Great American Christmas. And I think that’s OK – as long as we recognize it for what it is.
American retailers have created a winter holiday that, coincidentally, corresponds with the date of the religious observance of the birth of Christ. It’s not the Christmas of Silent Night – it’s the Christmas of Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Religious Christians have to accept that their holy day has been co-opted. They need to think of their religious Christmas as a separate, parallel-track holiday that they can observe in religious ways separate from the Santa Spectacular.
But even the secular Christmas has to have its limits. Christmas sales are becoming as unseemly as those Going-Out-of-Business sales that last for months. I know that there is no hope of rolling the commercialization back to after Thanksgiving. That ship has sailed. But can’t the honchos of television agree not to show Christmas ads until November? And while we’re at it, can we perhaps not begin the 2016 presidential campaign for a few more months?