Consumerism destroys true meaning of Christmas

Globally, according to, only 31.5 percent of people characterize themselves as part of a Christian branch and nearly 16.3 percent of the world population claim to be unaffiliated with any religion at all.

So this raises the question of why do those who are not affiliated with any religion choose to participate in Christmas? Why not Hanukah, Kwanzaa or another holiday belonging to another religion? This is where the American characteristic of greed and material wants comes into play.

The idea of giving gifts for this Christian holiday originated when the three wise men brought three gifts to the Virgin Mary to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Now people exchange gifts in hopes of receiving one in return and it is a rather selfish matter.

All blame cannot be put on the common atheist, but some can be placed upon media: commercials, movies, books, etc. The idea of Santa Claus was one of the first traits that began to steal the true meaning of Christmas as it began to commercialize.

Christmas time brings with it spirit and the enjoyment of family and friends which makes it understandable that people would want to celebrate the festive celebration. But, when beaten down to brass tacks, Christmas is truly a religious matter. It marks the day of Jesus’ birth and deserves to forever strictly be the celebration thereof and the freedoms God brought to the Christian community through this birth.

It would be beneficial if atheists, or the non-Christians that celebrate Christmas, would at least attempt to take a look at the origin of the Christmas holiday and then they could potentially see the miraculous manner of it, and celebrate appropriately, for the Christian community is a welcoming and open one. If non-Christians evaluate Christmas’ true origin, choose to ignore it and still want to celebrate a holiday around this time, then they should create a new holiday with no religious affiliation, so those who want the true meaning of Christmas to be conserved can achieve this wish without the mocking nature of modern-day consumerism.

The frenetic commercialism of Christmas continues to escalate despite all the warnings from climate scientists that Western lifestyles are destroying the planet. We still buy enough Christmas trees in the UK alone to reach from London to New York and back, and the card packaging that’s thrown away could cover Big Ben almost 260,000 times—not to mention the 4,500 tonnes of tin foil, two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and five million mounds of charred raisins from rejected Christmas puddings that are discarded in the UK come January. The mountain of e-waste from discarded electronic items—many of them bought as unwanted gifts—is projected to reach ten million tonnes by 2020.

Just pause for a moment and picture the scale of that waste, along with the ecological destruction it represents. Christmas is merely an exaggerated illustration of the gross materialism that defines our lives in a consumerist society.

What is more difficult to recognise is that our profligate consumption habits also exacerbate levels of inequality worldwide. The so-called ‘developed world’—roughly 20 per cent of the global population—consumes a hugely disproportionate share of the earth’s resources, and is responsible for at least half of all greenhouse gas emissions. Behind such statistics lies a depressing reality: the artificial standards of living of the global North are dependent on the dire working conditions and impoverishment of millions of people throughout the global South.

In spite of the spurious claims of trickledown economics, the number of people living on less than $5-a-day has increased by more than 1.1 billion since the 1980s. The vast majority of people who live in ‘developing’ countries survive on less than $10-a-day; none of them can afford the wasteful, conspicuous consumption that we consider ‘normal.’