The true origin of Christmas is a time to celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, a time when Christians believe God came to earth in human form. His birth which many referred to as the coming of the messiah was a time of great joy for the first Christians; his birth was greatly prophesised and anticipated. The happiness Christians felt at this time is why Christians today celebrate it, they feel it important to note the significance, (although many Christians are aware that December 25th is not Jesus’ actual birthday, they feel the need to recognise it far more important the actual accuracy of the date).
Contrary to all this evidence though, the way Christmas is celebrated today has virtually nothing to do religious meaning or celebration of Jesus’ birth. Christmas has successfully become one of the most if not the most commercial event on the calendar. The entire focus of Christmas has changed so dramatically, so much that the ‘Christ’ has been omitted from the word to form the popular X-mas. This shows that quite literally the Christ is being taken out of Christmas. For most people Christmas is seen as endless parties, presents, food, drink, and general jovialness.
This in itself isn’t wrong or bad, but the clear misinterpretation of Christmas is what takes away from it and reduces it to simply a social event. The reasons for this are varied, the way Christmas is perceived by the media and quite often society. The amount of shopping days left, the Christmas no. 1, the amount of presents received/given, the huge hype extending to the most obscure products in order to incorporate them into the crazy novelty. These are just some of the thing which has no connection whatsoever to the real meaning of Christmas and serve no other purpose than to make rich profit of what is a sacred celebration.
The huge amounts of waste from Christmas, the kilos of excess food thrown away while may starve; these lead us to believe that Christmas has become an extravaganza and not a time of reflection. The effect of all this is that the actual meaning of Christmas has become so distorted that even traditional thing such as Christmas cards now depict virtually anything apart from the Christmas story, in the absence of the nativity scene cards are background to animals, cartoon characters, glamour models, singers, celebrities.This commercialisation of Christmas seems not only to take away from its original meaning, but also morph the most traditional ideas into fodder for the never-ending hype.
One such of these ideas is that of Santa Claus, the story of Saint Nick is hundreds of years old and represents giving, the way Christians believe God gave his only son for them. However despite this, today’s Santa is depicted to children a man who manages to give all the children in the world everything they could wish for in one night.This does not teach children the lesson to be learned from such a story, that loving others and giving is good, it teaches them to expect and demand unrealistic amount of gifts and attention. Although Christmas is presented as a time for everyone to be happy and content, this is not so. The Samaritans charity receive more calls in this period than they do at any other time of year, thousand of people contemplate suicide due to extreme debt of other factors. Many people spend Christmas alone especially the elderly, whilst everyone is partying and assuming that others are fine and happy.The true Christmas spirit can seem truly lost at times.
Despite all this as long as there are still people who know and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, there will always be a balance, many positive things also happen at Christmas time. People’s attention is drawn to helping the poor and charity donations increase, many services are attended, lifelong memories are formed, people express their love for each other and travel many miles to be with friends and family.There are good points as well as the bad and both have a relevant impact on the way Christmas is celebrated.
To return to the question, we can clearly see that, yes, Christmas has become over commercialised, but the question poses; to what extent. From a Christian’s view I would say to a worrying extent, however as long as there are people who truly wish to celebrate it for what it truly means, Christmas will always be Christmas.