Have we forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

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Giant snowmen, baubles of every colour and size, chocolate reindeers (especially the Lindt ones) and presents in every direction you look. Christmas is that special time of year which is full of festivities and family time, yet nowadays it has become far more commercialised and you feel obliged to spend, spend, and spend. So is it true that people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

The cost of Christmas can be astronomical and in 2010, it was reported that Britons spent a staggering £16.7 billion in high street shops and online, buying thousands of gifts for their loved ones. Granted, buying presents is a huge part of Christmas, however this shouldn’t eclipse everything else.

More and more money is spent on buying gifts for children and it is true to say that they are not always suitable. I’ve known of cases where even four year olds have been given a laptop, but what I want to know is since when did a little girl want to swap a doll for a computer? Surely at four years old kids don’t want to sit glued to a screen?  From buying extravagant presents like this, parents are forcing their children to grow up too quickly and managing to put themselves hugely out of pocket at the same time. Comparing the average quality laptop, priced around £350-£500 and the average cost of a girl’s interactive doll, around £35 – the numbers just do not add up. Families end up buying too many presents that are just wasted, you all know those presents that you get every year that you didn’t use once. As a result people are splashing their cash far more than they need to, and just think if they spend this much on a four year old, what are they going to do when she turns eighteen? Christmas is about spending time with your family and purchasing gifts that you know will put a smile on the faces of your loved ones, but that smile doesn’t have to break the bank just so you can buy your way into their hearts with elaborate gifts.

If we turn Christmas into a purely materialistic holiday, it’s fair to say that as each year passes people’s expectations will grow. That means more presents, more decorations and more food, until Christmas becomes not the magical time of year, but the daunting period which everyone dreads because they simply cannot afford it. Instead of spending staggering amounts in high street shops, you can easily find just as thoughtful presents for a fraction of the cost in the local shops, why not help others this Christmas and spread a little festivity around?

As well as costing ridiculous amounts, some think that because so much goes into the build-up of Christmas, it means the actual day is a bit of a disappointment. There’s nothing better than a festive Christmas display, but when they’re out before Halloween has come around, it’s not surprising that people can feel (although it pains me to say) sick of Christmas before they’ve even opened the first window of their advent calendar. High expectations are built since October that just cannot be met on the day. Furthermore, introducing the festive season so early makes it lose all tradition.  After all, it can be easily forgotten that Christmas is a religious holiday about the birth of Jesus, and I can’t think of anyone who starts celebrating their birthday at least two months in advance. (It wouldn’t make much sense and you’d soon grow sick of someone going on about it all the time!) A recent survey stated that less than three-quarters of children knew Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and 11 percent genuinely believed it was the birthday of Father Christmas. That is quite shocking.

Christmas should be about celebrating this religious festival and having quality time with your family and friends, it’s not about which house can have the tackiest lights. The true meaning of Christmas has to be remembered and people have to stop making it so materialistic. I’m confident that if we take away the extravagancies and remembered why we are celebrating in the first place, everyone would still have a wonderful time and be full of Christmas spirit. So, are you hanging up your stocking on the wall yet?

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