It’s still November, yet it’s already happened. The War on Christmas has already begun, and this year it’s heating up fast. In Seattle, the billboards are already up. It’s atheists on I-5 northbound versus the Fundies on I-5 southbound. The Fundies are furious that the Liberals stole Christmas from them, a holiday which they stole fair-and-square from the pagans.
The populace has gone to battle over what this season really means and who gets to claim ownership. Still, nobody’s really addressing the REAL reason for the season? So let’s end this war now before we start another occupation we can’t get out of.
The REAL reason for the season is: (drum roll please…) SHOPPING.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Christmas is big business. The most sacred of all holidays is not Christmas, it’s Black Friday, the sacred celebration, the Mecca of Retailing. Retailers across the country slash the prices on only a few ticked items to lure in customers. Pilgrims from around the country flock to their local shopping Temple to worship at the altar of “great deals on flat-screen T.V.s” Some pilgrims even bring their prayer rugs and magic underwear and camp for days, showing their devotion to their corporate gods. They pray incessantly, entreating the blessing of the credit card company so that they may purchase what they cannot afford at a rate they’ll never pay back.
Black Friday is the great day when Corporate Jesus descends into the red ink, wrestles with the El Diablo, the Devil of Debt, and returns with the keys of holiday prophets… er, excuse me… profits. Retail diviners forecast and predict and estimate: what is the Corporate God’s sacred word to our nation’s retailers?
Here are some Christmas fun-facts:
19 billion packages and cards and letters go through the U.S. Postal Service between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.
In December 2008, according to the Census Bureau, retailers made a whopping $28.2 billion (with a “b”) dollars off of holiday shoppers, which represented a forty-percent increase over November.
Purchases from electronic retailers such as Amazon and Apple Online and other online companies amounted to $24 billion (again, with a “b”) dollars.
Christmas trees and decorations were also big business. Christmas tree farmers grossed $410 million dollars. Oregon led the nation with a gross of $109.3 million dollars.
U.S imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2009 came to about $470.3 million. Oh but wait, China was also the leading source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States. It was a small number though, only $28.6 million dollars.
Christmas is also great for toymakers worldwide as many of our products are made overseas and shipped in. That accounts for $4.3 billion dollars.
However, even in the U.S. we have a lot to be proud of. In 2010 there were 683 toymakers, led by California, employing over 10,708 workers.
Shipments of dolls and toys through our nation’s shipping organizations came to $3.2 billion dollars.
The government also says that you and I individually will each spend an average of $791 dollars this holiday season.
Sales from the Christmas holiday utterly dwarf sales from the rest of the year combined. In fact, Christmas shopping has become so important, that the government tracks it… hence the Census bureau report. Newspapers around the country, including prestigious ones such as the New York Times devote full pages to articles covering our nation’s Christmas spending. Our very economy depends on how much we spend over Christmas.
In this last year, with the deep recession and the job losses and the unemployment, everyone’s looking to Christmas to save the day. If we have a good Christmas, then we have hope for a better economy—okay, the Corporate Gods will have a better economy. Christmas is the groundhog day of economic forecasting. A good Christmas means bigger prophets… er, profits. A bad Christmas means a darker economic forecast for the rest of us.
So here is our holiday message to you this holiday season: “let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who… about who stole whose holiday… let’s get out there and shop.“