Day 489: After Christmas Special

Kipling might not recognize Christmas in India today. While Christians make up just 2.3% of the population, markets and stores in major cities are decorated for the holidays, hotels and restaurants run special meals, there are carolers in shopping malls, and scores of sometimes puzzling celebrations, like this 101-foot-long cake and multi-Santa event in Chandigarh, northern India: 
The Christmasification of India has its roots in Kipling and his ilk, British colonialists who left behind their educational influence, not to mention bakeries that make mince pies. But Christmas in India, and Asia in general, has undergone something of a transformation in recent decades, with countries around the region embracing the gift-buying, food, decorations, and singing—pretty much everything but the religious commemoration of the birth of Christ.
Thailand, for example, is 94% Buddhist and 5% Muslim. But many Thais have enthusiastically embraced the Christmas spirit—particularly the more materialistic elements. Despite the fact that it isn’t an official holiday, shopping malls and department stores erect towering, twinkling Christmas trees, and snowmen and candy canes are on display in many shops come late November. Many malls run special Christmas promotions, and one of the city’s major shopping centers is even open until midnight during the holiday period. - Quartz

Christmas means different things to different people: for some, it is a religious event in which they remember the life and death of Jesus. For others, it is a cultural event, celebrating one's family by coming together and giving gifts. For some, it is a nuisance due to the absolute madness that culminates in central areas in the days leading up to Christmas and the business that is lost due to everything closing on Christmas day. For some it represents the most sales their business will make in just a few short days/weeks in the year. For some it is a foreign concept that is only whispered about in their community.

Originally Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ (Christ's Mass) - but the meaning has changed a great deal for most people. These days one need not be Christian to celebrate Christmas. Christmas has actually become a massive event that impacts hugely on our economic system.

Aside from giving gifts to loved ones, many people travel, then there are all the decorations and trees that go up. All in all, people spend a fortune during Christmas time - and it seems like that is now the main focus of the celebration. It makes sense, seeing as how we equate love with spending money (and we equate spending money with making an effort, or sacrificing oneself) - so the more we spend on presents for our loved ones, the more we have shown to them that we care. Take this article, for example: a mother took out 8 different payday loans in order to buy hundreds of presents for her children. The article does not give a reason as to why she did what she did, we could assume that she is bad with money and financial planning, or that she is nuts, or that she is a desperate romantic in a way - whatever the reason, it was certainly not practical or very logical.

The more emphasis we place on the gifts we give and how much was spent on them, the less we are actually celebrating a day or showing our love - what we are actually doing is playing a comparison game of "who's present is bigger and who spent the most". Passing people in a supermarket the day before Christmas is terrifying. Most people smile and seem friendly enough, but the way that they are moving through the store indicates that they would run you over if you got in their way. Christmas has turned into a shopping frenzy, a mad rush (Black Friday anyone?) to buy whatever it is we are looking for in an attempt to make our loved ones happy and for us to "have a good time" with our family.