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Have yourself a capitalist Christmas

For me, one of life’s best cliché’s is how magical Christmas seems to make everything—the lights, the weather and—of course—the music. This year, I don’t think I’d even finished my Thanksgiving meal when Christmas music started pouring out of any speaker I got close to. While Michael Bublé and Paul McCartney make me feel warm and fuzzy, Mariah Carey and Penatonix make me twitch a bit. But regardless, it’s all a part of the wonderful season that means presents, family, food and shopping.

Earlier this month, research came out that said “playing Christmas songs on a loop can be bad for mental health.” The study, called It’s Beginning to Smell (and Sound) a Lot Like Christmas: The Interactive Effects of Ambient Scent and Music in a Retail Setting, explained that while “the first few times you hear your favorite Christmas songs you actually do feel festive, once you hear those same tunes too many times, it becomes maddening.”  

Thi means that retailers, who often work in stores that are decorated with Christmas since mid-November, have to spend most their energy “trying to not hear what they’re trying to hear,” especially since the study also proved that shoppers tend to buy more when the store provides the “right balance of Christmas scents and songs.” Thus, the poor people working at Macy’s had probably heard every rendition of every Christmas jingle ever before December even started, given that stores are doing anything to bring in shoppers since consumers are now doing most of their shopping online.

That sounds a lot more like torture than Christmas magic, but I guess it’s just part of the conundrum that comes around every winter: how much Christmas is too much Christmas?

On a yearly basis, someone I know brings up how America has turned Christmas into a capitalist scam to cheat people out of all their money under the guise of heartwarming traditions. Articles like “A Well-Earned Capitalist Christmas,” “Is Capitalism the Reason for the Season?” and “Has capitalism devoured Christmas?” try to warn us about how the true, Christian Christmas can be hard to find amongst so many commercials and ads convincing us we have to buy lots of stuff in order to make the season perfect.

But honestly, it’s hard to resist. As much as I know I’m being totally scammed under the guise of a religious celebration, I’ve woken up before dawn for Black Friday for the last several years. And I’m not the only one who can’t help being a terrible person, deemed as such by these critics.

Trinity junior Daniel Kwon admits, “There’s a really strong dichotomy between what Christmas is and what it’s supposed to be. I feel like it’s supposed to be a religious holiday that brings family together to recognize the birth of Jesus Christ, and even in a secular sense it’s supposed to be a time for spending time with loved ones, but now industries have capitalized on the idea that you should be giving gifts during Christmas and have used it as a way to leverage their products.”

Daniel is right. But he also “f***ing loves Christmas music.” He said he catches himself humming “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by September, and acknowledged that the only reason he doesn’t listen to it outside of Christmas time is because it would be frowned upon socially.

“You can’t go into stores in December without seeing some “Christmas flash sale” or promotion loosely based on the idea of Christmas, so what used to be a time for reflection and spending time with people you care about has become a mess of commercial competition,” he explained. “But damn, there’s nothing better than fuzzy Christmas socks with reindeers on them.”

Steve Ai, another Trinity junior, agreed. “Even though the increased sales from the holiday season has cultural origins rather than marketing motives, it definitely benefits the capitalist economy,” he said. “And though I do think it helps support that economy, the holiday season in general has definitely gained a reputation for placing a lot of advertisements that hype up the ‘gifting spirit’ and door-buster deals for their own profit.”

So, point understood: Christmas is a lie. But Steve counts down the months to have seasonal themed snacks, like mint-chocolate fudge cookies and peppermint coffee. “I love it when they make all the updates for the apps and it’s like a Christmas edition where everything is covered in snow. I bet they’re gonna have one for Whale Trail!” he speculated excitedly.

Steve and I are both passionate lovers of Whale Trail, and as soon as the calendar officially strikes December, you can bet we’ll be sitting in a Starbucks wearing Santa hats and toe-socks covered in snowflakes, drinking gingerbread lattes out of red-and-white cups playing Whale Trail: the Christmas edition.

I know it’s all a scam. And I can’t wait. As @notawolf wrote quite elegantly on Twitter a few days ago, “If the Starbucks cup does not vividly and upsettingly display Mary giving birth to Christ I will throw my Keurig Machine into traffic.” Merry Christmas, Not A Wolf. And I wish a Happy New Year to all the victims who had long shifts at Macy’s, Gap and the like this year during everyone’s favorite capitalist holiday. You’re the true heroes. 

Daniela Flamini is a Trinity junior. Her column usually runs on alternate Mondays.


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