The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Give Cheer, Not Cash: The Commercialization of Holidays

During the holiday season, society has overdone consumerism to the point where it seems to take priority over the celebration of the holiday itself
Donya Yazdihan
As overconsumption reaches its limit during the holidays, consumers feel the shopping craze on a whole new level.

It’s the middle of November. You go online or possibly scroll through social media. Not five seconds later you see an advertisement saying “save on gifts early” or “early black Friday sales” featuring a vast array of clothing, shoes, tablets, jewelry, coffee makers and more. You think it’s redundant, and that’s because it is.  

But consumerism is nothing new in America today. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press Reader states that“Existing shops were rapidly extended through the 1890s…and the new century saw massive multistory department stores.” 

This rapid industrialization of goods continuing into the 20th century has emerged as a culture that largely defines America. “Consumer culture can be defined as a societal norm to prioritize the purchase and consumption of goods in services to feel fulfilled and satisfied,” economics teacher Vi Le said. 

This set of perspectives in society is detrimental to the overall culture of the holiday season, where individuals focus solely on purchasing products rather than celebrating with their loved ones. 

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So why is consumerism taking a part in holiday sentiment? The real problem is corporations and the pressures to augment advertising and sales. 

With Black Friday sales and retail companies pushing for “early holiday shopping,” most of us tend to get swept up in the meager prices of popular items like technology devices. 

During the holiday season, a time popularized by gift-giving and seasonal limited-edition themed goods…companies know they can take advantage of our society’s need to act on ‘rare’ sales.

— Vi Le

With the power of retail businesses infused with the display of “holiday spirit” constantly being shoved down our throats, it seems as though we consumers can’t catch a break. 

For example, a survey done by Deloitte in 2023 states that nearly a third of shoppers’ budgets will be spent in the last two weeks of November, with 78% active shoppers during that period. 

In addition, the culture surrounding gift-giving during the holidays contributes highly to the consumption of goods. 

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, consumers are devoting upwards of $1,530 towards gifts in 2023, and 40% will spend more than the previous year. 

“If [people] need [gifts], they’ll probably just go buy first for what they need. Then they’ll be like…let’s just buy everything because [it’s] is so cheap,” senior Inaaya Shaikh said. 

As overconsumption reaches its limit during the holidays, consumers feel the shopping craze on a whole new level.
(Donya Yazdihan)

Society has transformed tradition into a materialistic number game; who can get the best deals, who can give the best gifts, who can give the most expensive gifts and so on. 

Furthermore, every year without fail, consumers spend more than they need to. After the lights get taken down and the tree gets put away, the high consumption of products during this period can be a detriment to the well-being of our planet. 

According to the National Environment Education Foundation, “many [gift] returns, especially clothing ultimately end up in a landfill rather than mailed to another customer, because it can cost more to process, inspect, repack, and ship out a return instead of just tossing it.” 

Despite these consequences, individuals who enjoy delving within the depths of consumerism believe in the power of the present; the Christmas present. 

“One norm of behaviour that has evolved over time, partly through clever conditioning of consumers by skilled marketers, is to equate the amount of money we spend on a gift to how much we value or love the recipient,” according to Deakin university consumer expert Dr. Paul Harrison. 

Although the expressing of gratitude and love is central to any type of celebration, this belief of correlating the price of gifts to this feeling of gratitude should not be normalized in order to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays. 

I feel like maybe we just need a bit more gratitude in this world,” junior Devon Le said. “I mean the best times I’ve had with gifts are the smallest things and they usually have to relate to an inside joke… so it’s simple.” 

So next time you find yourself a bit overwhelmed during the holiday season, don’t feel pressured to give in to the efforts of retail companies. After all, there’s no sales tax on spending time with friends and family. 

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About the Contributors
Madelyne Lee
Madelyne Lee, Content Editor
Hi guys! I'm looking forward to being a part of the Golden Arrow team for the first time! I hope to spend the next two years with the editor team and working with the other amazing staff. I believe knowledge should be accessible to everybody, so my goal is to share some of my content ideas and make the stories more fun and engaging for the students at WHS. Thank you for taking the time to read our stories and supporting Golden Arrow!
Donya Yazdihan
Donya Yazdihan, Opinion Editor
Hey Warriors! My name is Donya Yazdihan and I'm thrilled to serve as your Opinion Editor this school year. This will be my third and final year in the journalism program, and I'm looking forward to maintaining the credibility of our publication. As the Opinion Editor, I hope to provide a platform for diverse voices within the school community. Through my role, I aspire to challenge conventional perspectives and contribute to a more open-minded student body. Happy Reading, Warriors!