Is materialism eclipsing the holidays?

Late November throughout December is often referred to as the holiday season. Most holidays apparent during this time include some aspect of gift giving or gift receiving; the largest of these holidays being Christmas.

However, Thanksgiving sets itself apart from many other American holidays as it is not about receiving and giving gifts, but of expressing gratitude for what people already have. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, and my family taught me the sanctity of the day from an early age. Although it is not a religious holiday, it is still incredibly important to my family. It may even be important for that very reason; family members and friends of many different religious backgrounds can all gather and enjoy the holiday without conflict.

Originally, Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks for the harvest and the relationship between Native Americans and pilgrims. Today, the holiday has become an American (and Canadian) tradition of expressing gratitude toward numerous aspects of life.

It has always seemed ironic that the very day after Thanksgiving, a myriad of people flood stores and shopping malls to buy everything they’ve ever wanted at low prices. Sometimes, it is questionable if anyone actually cares about the message of Thanksgiving, or if they’re just anxious to eat their turkey and pies so they can rush off to the mall. Many people’s understanding of Black Friday used to be that people were buying gifts for their close friends and family, but now, for the most part, this is not true. Low prices and good sales are great, but is it really necessary to camp outside of a Best Buy just to get good deals the next day?

Materialism is also reflected in many of the advertisements for Black Friday. Turn on the television on Thanksgiving Day, and each network is playing ads of beautiful people holding luxurious products, beckoning to viewers and explaining that if individuals bought their wonderful items, buyers could be as happy and beautiful as them. Many Black Friday ads also suggest that the items for sale are not wants, but needs of the American public. However, this is hardly true. Most of the items sold on Black Friday are clothes and appliances that are regularly available in any department store.

There are, of course, some benefits of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Both days give many people the opportunity to buy goods at prices that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. Additionally, these days help some people get a head start on Christmas shopping, although many shoppers do not use these “holidays” for that purpose.

Granted, the price reductions offered on Black Friday are quite substantial, which is the main motivation for many shoppers. However, as materialist culture has increased throughout the years, some department stores and other large brand stores have begun racking up their prices a week or so prior to Black Friday, just so that they can capitalize off of the frenzy of shoppers. This is a prime example of how companies profit off of the increased materialism in today’s society.

Materialism and technology have grown so much in recent years that the shopping “needs” of many are no longer fulfilled by Black Friday. The evolution of technology has led us to the creation of another miniature Black Friday-esque tradition: Cyber Monday. The fact that another whole day is dedicated to shopping and sales only further illustrates how materialistic our society has become.

The hysteria of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has become increasingly ingrained into today’s society, only showing how materialistic we have truly become. Although many sales are advertised during these two days, sales continue throughout the entire month of December. After the hysteria of Black Friday is over, be thankful for now.