IT'S TOO EARLY - PHOEBE
Every year it feels like people begin to celebrate Christmas earlier and earlier. Somehow, we’ve gone from the Christmas season starting in December, to November, to as soon as possible after summer has ended. It feels like as soon as the days get a little bit colder, people start counting down the days and screaming “Christmas is soon!”
I went to B&M towards the end of September and there were Halloween decorations towards the front of the store, and Christmas decorations towards the back. Who is decorating their house for Christmas before it even hits October? And it’s not just B&M: one of my friends told me that Tesco has released their Christmas meal deals range, including a pigs-in-blankets baguette and a turkey-and-trimmings wrap. Costa released their Christmas-themed hot drinks on 3 Novem- ber, and the York Christmas Market begins in a couple of days. It’s far too soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I’m not a Grinch, or a Scrooge, or whatever you’re thinking of calling me. I love spending time with my family, I enjoy singing popular Christmas carols and, of course, I won’t complain about pre- sents. But, as controversial as some of my housemates may find it (it really started an argument when I brought it up), I think that November is too early to start the celebrations.
Part of the reason I like Christmas is because it’s meant to be a fairly short period of time and that makes it special. If we start celebrating in November, or even as early as October, the season is dragged out for longer than it needs to be and it becomes a lot less fun. Before it even gets to December, you’re sick of every Christmas song ever written – trust me, when you’ve heard the same ten or so in a loop for hours straight whilst working in a café, you tend to go slightly insane. Christmas goes from being an exciting day about family, love, and gifts to a day that you want to just get over with before you have to hear Last Christ- mas on the radio again.
Christmas is late enough in the month to start the celebrations on 1 December and have plenty of time to enjoy the season. Just over three weeks is more than enough time to go to parties, buy presents, and enjoy all the festive food and drink that your heart desires. If we start the celebrations in November, we go straight from Halloween into another holiday, with no chance to rest in between. I don’t know if this is just me, but I feel like I need at least a couple of weeks to decompress from all the spooky hype before we move into the holly jolly season. Leave some time between holidays, please.
But jokey grumbles aside, a more serious reason for my argument is bereavement. It’s exhausting for people going through a family loss to experience months of excessive excitement and talk about Christmas, when they know it is likely to be bad for their mental health. It can be hard to accept that family members who have passed away won’t be sat sharing the joy as they used to. I wouldn’t wish the pain of grieving through Christmas on anyone, so we shouldn’t make the season longer than it needs to be out of compassion for people experiencing loss.
All in all, my point is that Christmas is a great time of year, but it becomes much less special when the season is extended. Relentless advertising makes it a day full of pressure to find the perfect gift, rather than celebrating love and the people close to you. So, this Christmas, maybe wait until December to start your celebrations – you may enjoy the day much more.
START CELEBRATING - JAMES
Let’s make one thing clear from the get-go: Christmas is no longer about celebrating the birth of Christ. In a secular age, Christmas is now far from a time for reflecting upon Christian values. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that festive gluttony is not compatible with Christian giving. Christmas being about Christianity is down the toilet. We live in a secular and atheistic wasteland with no alternative and no way back. It’s a matter of adapt or die. If you don’t like it, tough stuff! Taking the place of Christ’s birth, we now use Christmas as an opportunity for celebrating the miracle of capitalism. By definition, this makes November festivities inevitable due to the maximisation of profit that characterises the system of free enterprise. I don’t know whether or not the great atheist intellectuals realised that their ferocious attacks upon the primary tenets of religion would result in the hijacking of Christmas by online marketing boffins and nihilistic corporate strategists. However, they have, and they are the reason we have to endure Hugh Grant dance down the stairs of No.10 Downing Street during mid-November.
Having established who is responsible, it is worth explaining my point a bit further. Like a phoenix rising from the Enlightenment-induced ashes, capitalism has emerged as the system which above anything else characterises the festive period. It’s an orgy of consumerism in which companies milk the cash cow until it’s all run dry. If the man in the ivory tower wants to shove two for one “World’s Greatest Dad” mugs down your throat barely days after you’ve set ablaze a Guy Fawkes effigy then just give in and accept it. That’s life, baby!
On a different but semi-similar note, in many ways Christmas is just like a day at the office for most parents. You do all the work and then a fat guy in a fancy suit takes all the credit. One can draw another similarity between the myth of Santa Claus and that of capitalism. The Elves who abide within Santa’s grotto, like the workers within a capitalist system, are not being exploited. Santa’s little helpers are there voluntarily and be- cause they enjoy the satisfaction that being a cog in the machine can bring to one’s life. They have accepted that there is no greater purpose and try- ing to achieve greatness is futile and self-defeating. You find your place in the system and live out the rest of your days until the time of your eventual demise. It’s for this reason that we should look towards elves as the real heroes of Christmas.
When Adam Smith and David Ricardo were drawing up the original theses on the origins and perks of capitalist enterprise, they were all about pursuing the maximisation of self-interest and personal gain. The commercialisation of Christmas provides the perfect opportunity for this sort of expansion. They weren’t wrong when they encouraged the smashing of limitations and boundaries. If companies can get away with starting their advertisement boom in November, then good for them.
Tis not the season to be jolly; tis the season to be greedy. We should not be decking the halls with boughs of holly. We should be decking the high streets with a flurry of festive marketing techniques. I want to see three for the cost of two at WHSmith, half-price on all goods over £300 at Currys PC World and, as an extra special treat, free Terry's Chocolate Oranges for all weekly family shops above £50 at Tesco. Even the glorious romp of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang doesn't compare to the trill tones of the Debenham’s Boxing Day sales. C’est La Vie!