How early is too early to hear Christmas carols in a shopping center? Does “Black Friday” ruin the Thanksgiving holiday? Is there something wrong with Christmas lights going up in November?
These are not new questions for us Americans. The tug-of-war between keeping Christmas special and maximizing both its joy and its bottom line has been going on since I can remember, and I’m not what they call “young.”
But I’ve been interested to notice lately, on the edges of the news, stories about Germans pushing back against “Christmas Creep.” There is even talk of regulating when Christmasy treats can begin to be sold! The Christian Science Monitor cites a recent German poll on the subject:
According to the survey, done by the polling institute YouGov for the news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 1 in 3 Germans want the government to regulate when stores can start selling Christmas gingerbread cakes and other Christmas goodies. Most of the survey’s 1,000 respondents say that that date should be Nov. 30. Half say the early display of Christmas commercialism erodes the meaning of Christmas.
Yep, that’s right: the government telling stores when they’re allowed to start selling. Can you wrap your head around such an idea even being uttered in America, let alone approved of?
Sigh. Of COURSE I don’t want that kind of regulation in my own country. But. I sure wish consumers and advertisers could get together and make their own “regulation”–i.e., common sense. Respect. Dare I say “honor”–of the meaning of Christmas?
What a hoot. Get a grip, Wing.
Germany and Austria are also apparently waging a war against Santa Claus–bless their hearts. According to the website dw.de,
Bettina Schade says she doesn’t have anything personal against Santa Claus. In fact, she likes a lot of things about today’s celebrations of Christmas — the lighted trees, the gold ornaments, the silver stars.
But all the material things, the hectic rush to buy gifts, and the ubiquity of the bearded man in the red suit are taking away from the core meaning of Christmas. She’d like to see things changed, or at least toned down a little.
“The Christian origins of Christmas, like the birth of Jesus, have receded into the background,” she said. “It’s becoming more and more a festival that is reduced to simply worldly gifts and to commerce.”
She is part of a campaign called the Frankfurter Nicholas Initiative, founded by a Roman Catholic priest in Frankfurt, Eckhard Bieger. Alarmed by the growing commercialization of Christmas in Germany, he launched the initiative that’s aimed at putting St. Nicholas, a fourth-century monk, back in the Christmas spotlight where he used to be.
The article goes on to point out what all Americans ought to know (though I’m guessing that most don’t), which is that our current image of Jolly Old Saint Nick was created for, and promoted by, the Coca-Cola Company. The “real” St. Nicholas would probably not have sold too many fizzy drinks. Which is kinda the point.
I am not intending here a discussion of the so-called “War on Christmas”–you’ll need to go to someone else’s blog for that. But I am interested to hear if my readers have similar ideas on when is a good season for Christmassy “stuff,” and when is not. Perhaps you hate seeing wrapping paper on sale in October, for example, but still enjoy Christmas lights as soon as Daylight Savings Time kicks in.
Can you articulate when you like to begin to see, hear and smell “Christmas,” and when you do not–and why?