For the past few years, stores have been stocking stockings and blasting carols as early as mid-October. This phenomenon has been the center of hilarious memes, but also reinforces a juxtaposition of two fundamental American values: capitalism and freedom of religion.
This Christmas-earliness pits capitalism and religion against each other. Christmas signifies the birth of Jesus, which is important to Christians. Many individuals within the Christian denomination argue that the capitalist and free market society we live in has changed the way Christmas is celebrated and thought of. One recent example is the color and design of Starbucks cups. Starbucks’ seasonal coffee cups change each year and are released in November. Last year, Starbucks got rid of well-known Christmas symbols like snowflakes and Santa’s face and made their cups red. @Hael381 tweeted, “Since you’re running away from Christianity, I’m running away from you!”
Because Starbucks releases their seasonal cups early November, there are multiple ways that this dynamic plays into society. There are other stores and coffee shops doing the same by promoting their Christmas decorations/designs earlier and earlier. In doing so, they start conversations between peoples with different ideologies and backgrounds. Considering how capitalism has influenced politics and religion, this phenomenon shouldn’t be much of a shock.
However, there is a consensus that our capitalist system has taken over Christmas so that it profits businesses. This can be seen with other holidays, such as Thanksgiving; grocery stores are open for half the day and Black Friday is almost as important as family and friends. We think so much about what we’re going to get for Christmas or what we’re going to give, that we play into what the market wants from us. Gift giving and receiving can stem from a good place, but when and where do businesses draw the line?
Another question this phenomenon raises is how businesses and corporations account for their customers who don’t celebrate Christmas. Yes, sales make everyone happy, but there are those who might be uncomfortable with gospel music on their normal radio stations. As the Christmas season is forced into our lives come November, it’s easy to get caught up in its effect, but harder to remember that your neighbor might not have a tree up because she doesn’t celebrate the occasion. Starbucks has accounted for this difference by making their cups green, with a “mosaic of more than a hundred people drawn in one continuous stroke.” The idea behind this is inclusion and unity. Though these cups also got hate from the same people who got upset last year, it’s a nice gesture and a non-denominational recognition of holiday spirit.
On a lighter note, this phenomenon has changed holiday humor as we know it and been the substance of many memorable memes. Whether the early holiday inspires screenshots of people changing their phone backgrounds to Mariah Carey in a Santa hat as soon as the date changes to Nov 1 or videos of people dancing and jamming to Christmas music, it’s safe to say that even obnoxiously early decorations can’t ruin the holiday spirit.
What we, as a society, need to figure out is how much of this Christmas-earliness affects our personal lives and how much of it we can take.