christmas2One of the most celebrated holidays in the United States is quickly approaching: Christmas. By now, more proactive consumers have already been hustling around for weeks in search of the perfect gift for that special someone, mother-in-law or beloved dog. Many houses are already adorned with strings of lights and nativity scenes are appearing in yards across the country.

Everyone celebrates Christmas differently, but it is universally agreed that Christmas seems to be approaching faster each year. This begs the question: How soon is too soon to be celebrating?

photo/thinkgeek.com
photo/thinkgeek.com

For senior Gabriela Mejia, it is never too soon to start celebrating Christmas. “I think the aspect of sharing and the unity of Christmas can be experienced year round. I like listening to Christmas music really early; all year round. It reminds me a lot of my childhood,” she said.

While most would likely agree with the sentiments of sharing and unity as an appropriate tradition to hold all year round, the Christmas spirit shared through the medium of music has a more contested starting date.

Junior Laura Tibbetts was conflicted on the matter. “I’m kind of awkward because I have ‘Jingle Bells’ stuck in my head constantly,” she said. However, when asked when it was OK to begin playing Christmas music, she said, “I think the day after Thanksgiving is a safe day.”

The general consensus seems to be for a post-Thanksgiving Christmas celebration. Many people actually express anger about how early retailers begin selling Christmas products.

Retailers aren’t into Christmas for the sake of the holiday itself. They are taking advantage of the consumers’ eagerness to buy. Starting the Christmas season earlier creates a longer window of time for Christmas shopping, which means more opportunity for profit.

In some ways, Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving known for its extreme sales, seems to be replacing Thanksgiving. On that particular night, that the entire country seems to become nocturnal in search for the best deals on that one special item they do not need.

“I find it ironic,” sophomore Jack Hanson said. “Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving, but people are already thinking about getting more.”

Black Friday is a prime example of how the consumer spirit of Christmas is becoming an increasing imposition on Thanksgiving, as retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys “R” Us are starting to open earlier on Thanksgiving Day. The Christian Science Monitor reported that 35 million Americans spent Thanksgiving Day shopping in 2012, 6 million more than the year before. There is no doubt that people are genuinely grateful, and excited to celebrate on Thanksgiving; however, this gratitude seems to be short lived as soon as retailers’ doors open.

This shopping phenomena is commonly justified but the fact that most of what we buy on Black Friday is not for ourselves, but for others. However, according to Christian Science Monitor blogger Marcy Bonebright, 44 percent of Black Friday shoppers are in fact shopping primarily for themselves.

The idea of beginning Christmas celebrations with such mass consumerism is disturbing for senior Ally Lauria. “I think the argument is that we are not celebrating Thanksgiving,” she said. She also brought up the point that when these people are shopping, it means there are also employees who are not able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families.

The question asked by many as Christmas has become more and more a commercial event is whether that trend is a distraction from the original intent of the holiday.

When asked what their favorite thing about Christmas is, the answer people rarely give is getting gifts. It is the spirit of selflessness and love of Christmas that has people excited year after year for the holiday season. With this sense of Christmas in mind, it is never a bad time to start celebrating.

“If you truly have the Christmas spirit, that won’t go away,” Hanson said.With that approach, celebrating Christmas never ends.

Image courtesy of Julia Suber