Christmas – Compassion, Christianity or Consumerism? The True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas has become symbolic of all that is wrong with our society. Much like the Grinch, whose heart was three sizes too small; our hearts have diminished in size due to the culture of fear, conformity, and consumerism in which we reside. As a result, we have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas, and celebrate it in ways that are in direct opposition to its original intent.
Families anxiously await the moment the retail stores open for those extraordinary deals, and quickly abandon their feelings of gratitude by indulging in competition and materialism, literally rioting, fighting with strangers for bargains as though we were fighting for our survival. Any sense of gratitude we may have tapped into are quickly banished, and consumerism takes hold once again.
We wrestle with over others for materialistic ends. It leads to fights, people being trampled, arrests, and even a few deaths, all in an effort to purchase “things” to provide for our families for Christmas.
This is what Christmas has become; a season of shopping, not the season of giving. It is about money, consumerism, and materialism.
The retail industry generates trillions of dollars during the holidays all over the world.
It is estimated by a United Nations world hunger project that it would cost approximately $30 billion per year to end world hunger.
Think about that. It would take only $30 billion per year to end world hunger, and yet, through the season of giving, people will spend on our own material gratification, most of which is disposable and dispensable.
Cost Of Military Jet Could House Every Homeless Person In U.S. With $600,000 Home
This is not suggesting to abolish Christmas, but if every household reduced their Christmas budget by only thirty-percent and contributed that money to impoverished communities, we would meet the forecast amount to end world hunger, homelessness and give everybody the opportunity to have a Merry Christmas.
Wouldn’t that make a better gift? Wouldn’t that make for a better Christmas story, if all the resources in the world were utilized to making a better life for everyone rather than benefiting the few?
Isn’t that what Christmas is about?
In fact, this is how the original story of Santa Claus arose. St. Nicholas was a monk born in the third century. He lived near modern-day Turkey and was admired for his kindness, compassion and generosity. Legends suggest that St. Nicholas gave away all of his wealth and travelled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Over the years, we have created a mythical creature to symbolize this monk — Santa Claus. But, instead of going around and donating his wealth to the poor, our modern-day Santa Claus runs a foreign sweatshop that works around the clock to deliver material items to the world’s richest nations.
Living in a Material World
In the past, this holiday used to be about sharing love, giving, and caring for one another. This idea evaporate as the years have passed, and I refuse to further participate in this distortion. While millions searching for bargains, I found my own bargain – peace and tranquillity, for free. I find the word “bargain” quite ironic when talking about retail prices. One must realize that these really are not the great deals that are advertised; the standard retail mark-up is astronomical, and much of the goods sold are produced and priced specifically for these “sales”.
Corporations employ workers in sweatshops in countries like Bangladesh, India, China, Haiti, etc., paying far below minimum wages to people working in deplorable working conditions – typically 14-16 hours per day for seven days per week. It costs pennies to make these products, which attract massive mark-ups that provide enormous profits for these corporations and their CEOs.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking retailers are taking a loss on sales — it is their most profitable day of the year.
The Symbolism of Modern Christmas
Christmas is not a complete lie, we just need to understand that it has to do with symbolism. Santa Claus no longer has anything to do with St. Nicholas or helping the sick and needy.
Santa Claus now represents the fat and jolly CEOs distributing merchandise around the world.
The elves symbolize submissive sweatshop workers that get paid next to nothing, to provide your annual haul of material possessions. (Perhaps the reason they are so small in stature is because they represent the 10 year olds working 16 hours per day to provide wealth for their respective Santa Claus.)
Then, we tell children Santa delivers only to the “good” girls and boys, creating further separation. Again, it is symbolic — in actuality, only those children who have money and wealth receive gifts. How do you explain to a child in poverty that he did not get gift this year? By this mythical logic, poor children learn that they are “bad” children because Santa did not bring him gifts.
This tale of Christmas we share is a stark contrast to the true story of St. Nicholas. The real St. Nicholas was a kind, charitable bishop who made sacrifices to help those in need. Today, Christmas is a celebration that revolves around fulfilling greed, not need, at the expense of the poor.
The problem of sweatshop labor sporadically pops up in the news, but it has never gone away; we just selectively decide when we want to pay attention. It was all over the news in the 1990s with Nike and Gap found to have 10-13 year old kids working as slave in their sweatshops, earning those companies record profits. Every few years, there is a story on the slave labor that produces the clothes we wear. Then the corporation tells us they have looked into things and have made changes. Yet, just a few years ago a factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing thousands of people and we come to find that Walmart, Gap, Target, etc. were all having clothing made at these factories. If that had happened in the West, what kind of furore would have followed? But the public outrage over the torturous conditions it takes to make our consumer goods is quickly forgotten once we see the “great deals” on Black Friday and begin preparing for another Christmas consumer-fest. We forget what is real and important, and revert instead to societal patterns, consuming more and faster.
Christmas no longer seem to come through compassion, reconciliations, forgiveness or spiritual healings, but through mass marketing schemes and the manipulation of human nature. We are collectively a group of people watching television, listening to the radio or surfing the internet, and the marketers simply pay money for air time — time in our minds — to tell people (particularly children) what they “need”. In true marketing fashion, the message they convey is: You’re not okay, but once you have these items, then you will be okay. It is based on fear, simultaneously creating a sense of lack in consumers and providing a way to temporarily ‘fill’ it.
When all is said and done, unspoken pressure to adapt to the model of goodness=gifts is put on children by television and media, by their parents and their society, and is subsequently reinforced by their peers — a cycle that now continues from generation to generation in an increasingly materialistic society.
Jesus Christ was not born in a grand palace. He was not born to very wealthy or learned parents. Also He was not born in the full blaze of daylight with the knowledge of all men. Jesus Christ was born in a simple lowly place, a corner of a stable. He was born to humble and poor parents, who had nothing to boast about, except their own spotless character and holiness.
Believing or not in the birth of Christ, you still take advantage of the time free from work given to you to catch up with family and friends celebrating….. What? Have you really ever thought about it?
Whichever way you celebrate please don’t forget about the poor at Christmas, the lonely and the sick, and the slaves at sweatshops in Bangladesh, India or China. Think of the most unfortunate ones in Palestine or Syria. Say a prayer for them all if you are a believer. Overindulgence in food and alcohol will only make you sick and fat. Take time to relax, reflect and enjoy the companionship of family members that you didn’t have much time for during the year, too busy working perhaps.
Visit your lonely mother or father; after all, without them you would not be here, even if you do not get along… Be courageous to overcome all obstacles.
And with that I hope your holiday is filled with plenty of warmth, love, cheer, and happiness.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.