Is the commercialisation of Christmas getting too much? Where has the original meaning of Christmas gone?…
I remember when I was a lad in the nineteen forties, one of the great traditional events of the year was Guy Fawkes Night, on November the fifth. In those days it was legal to buy fireworks, whatever your age, and virtually every toy shop, tobacconist and sweetshop sold them in the couple of weeks leading up to the big night. Surprisingly, even at age fourteen I was also able to go into any chemists shop and buy saltpetre, sulphur and carbon to make our own fireworks with – I’m amazed that I am still alive!
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In those days Guy Fawkes Night and Christmas seemed about as isolated from each other as Heaven is from Hell, Jew is from Arab or Christmas pudding is from porridge, even though it was the next event on the annual calendar, or perhaps because it was next on the list.
Once Guy Fawkes Night was over, we kids had plenty of time to get rid of the burns and cuts sustained on the night; shops got back to normal, without shelves loaded with all sorts of ordnance of varying power to damage property; and parents could sigh with relief that they still had viable children with no fingers missing – in most cases!
Christmas still seemed as if it was a lifetime away, especially to us kids. It was, for the time being ignored by one and all, except perhaps for a few toy shops, hoping to catch the ‘sensible’ parents, who bought toys early in order to spread the expense over several pay-days.
Don’t forget, in those days not many homes possessed a refrigerator and virtually none proudly owned a freezer!
The best a lot of establishments could muster was a cool-box, a wooden framed container with wire mesh walls, over which a housewife would place a damp towel, so that the evaporation chilled the air inside, (somewhat!). It was therefore virtually impossible to buy chicken, turkey or any other form of meat for the Christmas Day festivities more than, at the most, a week before the magic day. So there was no point in shops trying to sell the stuff as yet, their refrigeration not being much better than the domestic variety. That meant the Christmas Rush Proper didn’t really get started until about the eighteenth of December.
Dry goods and canned items were about the only pre-Christmas purchases that could be made safely and I guess there was some movement on that score, especially in grocers shops, (don’t forget, supermarkets hadn’t arrived as yet!), but generally speaking it was a case of ‘all quiet on the Christmas front’ until the middle of December.
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But look at it now! I know we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes in Australia, because the historical event is irrelevant here, but it’s still a pretty important date, or a day very close to it, because it’s when the Melbourne Cup is run! So, by the time November the fifth arrives, the shops are already crammed to the rafters with everything you could possibly imagine to be associated with Christmas, and quite a few items that boggle the mind – who’d want to buy someone a toilet seat for a present?
And to top it all, although I am by no means religious, I believe there should still be some semblance of the original meaning, somewhere, instead of all this overpowering commercialisation.
One other thing you can be quite certain of – by January the first we’ll start seeing the next event in the shops – Easter! After all, it will only be about three months away won’t it? Hardly time to get the chocolate eggs in the house, or the stuffed bunny rabbit hidden in the wardrobe!
What do you think about Christmas, has the commercialisation become too much?