The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper



The Commercialisation of Christmas

December is approaching and we all know what that means – Christmas trees going up, frantic present shopping and festive holiday aisles in the supermarkets. It’s a fun time of the year for most people, but have we forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

It might be different for everyone, but whether you’re celebrating the religious side of Christmas or not, a popular view is that an important part of it is about spending time with your loved ones who you may not get to see all that often.

London's Oxford Street at Christmas

London’s Oxford Street at Christmas

Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas lies in reaching out to the less fortunate who may not have anyone to share the day with or have any money to buy their family gifts. Enjoying your own Christmas is great, but helping others is even better.

Granted, for some, it’s an opportunity to clink a wine glass or ten at the work Christmas party and wake up covered in glitter and missing a shoe. Each to their own, but here’s another observation: Christmas has been creeping further and further back on the calendar every year.

The Christmas lovers out there might ignore the collective moans of all those ‘it’s only November’ protesters, but I think most of us will agree that seeing mince pies in the shops in mid-September really shows how Christmas is becoming all about the money.

Though we might think of it as being a season that is so far uncorrupted by the corporate lust for commercial profit, it looks like Christmas might be going the same way as Valentine’s Day and Halloween – a hyped up excuse for businesses to make money.

Maybe a growing generation of Dudley Dursleys are to blame. Parents anxiously strive to satiate their kids’ growing appetites for fancy gadgets and tech, none of which they actually need. Most of it will probably end up under the bed or in the back of a cupboard in a pile of presents from Christmases past.

All it would take is a quick walk around the shops to notice that most of the products on sale as Christmas gifts are really rather superficial and disposable. Shelf after shelf of mass-produced bath and shower sets, Barbie dolls and remote controlled helicopters. Yes, they may turn out to be well-loved presents that live out well used lives, but chances are, they’re forgotten about after a week.

“Seeing mince pies in the shops in mid-September really shows how Christmas is becoming all about the money.”

Most of us with a firm hold on our wallets might think twice before buying fancy gifts, but a slightly startling statistic from research by YouGov is that the average British household spends £821 at Christmas, £604 of which goes on presents. Affectionate generosity or over-the-top extravagance?

Despite all of this, large numbers of us excitedly anticipate the arrival of the John Lewis advert, a yearly occurrence which has almost become part of the celebrations. The tradition seems to be catching on with Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda jumping on the bandwagon and releasing their own versions. Even Heathrow airport has made their own advert.

Whether Christmas is, for you, a time of joyful merriment or something in which you begrudgingly partake, the bottom line is that Christmas should be a time to put down that phone, be kind to others and be with family. So, forget the tinsel and sparkly lights and go and hug your grandma.

This content is one individual's opinion and does not represent the opinion of The Galleon. If you disagree with this article or have any further comment to make please email

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