Statesman

Pros & Cons (The Gluttony of Holidays)

Cindy Yao and Joylyn Yang, Staff Reporters

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Consumerism has become an increasing component of our culture, particularly around the holiday season.  With a large part of this being shopping and gift giving, Statesman discusses the gluttony and capitalism behind holidays, and whether these have taken a toll on traditional holiday values and celebrations.

 

Pro:

What does the word “holiday” mean to you? Are the holidays just a time off from school—an opportunity to take advantage of sales that come with the season? Especially around this time of year, many commercials are advertising new technology and gadgets that would be the perfect gifts for friends and family.

While it’s fun to open and exchange presents with loved ones, we often forget the true meaning of holidays. The holidays are times to embrace special moments with family, give thanks and celebrate traditions. However, these times of gratitude have turned into times of consumerism. Recently, there has been an increasing emphasis on gift giving, getting the best deal on the right gift and shopping to make sure all of the items on the checklist have been purchased.

According to the Gallup Survey Network, the average American will spend $909 on Christmas presents this year, up more than $200 from ten years ago. The consumerism of holidays can be attributed to the growing amount of commercials and ads that we see in the media. With holidays becoming more commercial, Christmas and Chanukah have lost some of their value. Instead, people look forward to the holidays for the presents that they’ll receive. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for families to cut Thanksgiving dinner short in order to secure a spot in line, amidst the chaos of Black Friday sales. A recent Macy’s advertisement prompted customers to hurry to their doorbuster sale, where doors opened as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Have we really gone so far as to push aside holiday traditions and family bonding, for discounted merchandise?

No matter what traditions your family celebrates, keep in mind the true meaning of holidays, a meaning that is deeper than buying another pair of shoes or an iPad. While gifts and presents may be seen as kind gestures, the best gift you can give is the gift of love and companionship. After all, material items are not worth nearly as much as human affection. It’s important to embrace these occasions as an opportunity to appreciate what you have been blessed with and take time to spend with family and loved ones.

 

 

Con:

The holiday season is here, and with Christmas music playing and stores decked out in festive decor, it’s hard not to tell.  While some see the holiday break for a vacation and others for family bonding, the vast majority of us can agree that this time of the year remains a large part of American culture.

But as cheery and family-oriented as traditional movies portray them to be, the holidays have become increasingly commercialized, with a large component of this being gift giving. With all the presents we need to purchase for Chanukah and Christmas, the obsession for grabbing the best deals have been triggered by popularized shopping trends similar to Black Friday, notorious for its chaos and interference into Thanksgiving.

However, our consumeristic impulses and holiday customs are not mutually exclusive. In many cases, the faces of marketing ploys have become accepted traditions in our own homes. It’s hard to imagine Christmas without seeing Santa at the mall or Thanksgiving without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

According to a study conducted by psychologist Tim Kassner, holidays centered around spiritual or family events are much more enjoyable than ones centered around presents and shopping. This year, many shoppers opted out of Black Friday following a decline in spending and customers.  Statistics from the National Retail Federation show an eleven percent drop in sales and a 5.3 percent decline in customers.

And yes, while some holidays have been secularized to the public in becoming more of a cultural phenomenon than a religious event, the value and traditions of these holidays, be it about religion or family, are still ones many people believe in. At the end of the day, holidays are there to remind us of what we are grateful for. Purchasing gifts may seem gluttonous, but in reality, we’re just trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones to show how much we care. When we look past the materialistic society we live in and past the glamor, we find the true holiday values we were taught from a young age—and that’s something you can’t put a price on.

 

 

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Pros & Cons (The Gluttony of Holidays)