A rant against Commercialmass

Let me start by saying that if you are celebrating a festival over the winter, as a spiritual festival, then I take no issue with it. If you are, in a more communal way, celebrating family, and friendship and planning things that will make people happy – yourself included – I take no issue with it. All power to you. Winters are gloomy, often depressing times and a bit of warmth and good cheer goes a long way.

Commercialmass is none of those things.

Commercialmass is about spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need – quite possibly to appease people you don’t even like. Commercialmass is false jollity powered by spending and guilt. It’s the pressure to make a big day, even if you are tired, and worn and could do with a rest. It’s the time honoured tradition of pulling threads out of people who were already threadbare. It’s the season of overeating and over-drinking (or feeling the misery of poverty more keenly because you can’t), blotting out the things you want to avoid with a glut neither wallet nor waistline can afford. Festive is an advert on the TV, or the hope of what Amazon Prime can bring, and something has gone horribly wrong.

Commercialmass exists because retailers can get us to spend a lot of extra money on things no one really needs. The guilt of time we don’t spend with people, the anxieties, and insecurities we feel can all be assuaged for just a little while by the power of our spending. This is a lie, but the tinsel goes up at the start of December, the relentless Christmas adverts started in November. If your house isn’t lit, decorated and as gift laden as the ones you keep seeing in the ads, of course it’s easy to feel inadequate. We are meant to feel inadequate. That way, we spend more.

If what you celebrate in the darkest part of the year lifts your spirits, and lifts the spirits of those around you, then you’re doing it right. You’re doing something you can afford, that enriches life. The rest is just detail. If the prospect of midwinter depresses you, if you feel overstretched and financially compromised, if you fear debt, and fear looking like a failure, if you dread the work to be done on the day and the people you’ll be obliged to interact with, then you are one of the many people celebrating Commercialmass.

You don’t have to go through with it. A person can say ‘no’ to any and all aspects of the business. You do not have a moral obligation to create profits for other people. The season of goodwill to all shareholders is not something you have to engage with. Do it on your terms.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

18 responses to “A rant against Commercialmass

  • TPWard

    Someone I know calls it “Giftmas,” which I find to be an elegant descriptor of the phenomenon.

  • Widdershins

    Especially since it starts at the beginning of November. November!!!!

  • thistleinavalon

    Reblogged this on Parting the Mists and commented:
    I rarely reblog, but this is such a great message that we all need to hear, no matter if we are Pagan, Christian, Jewish, or whatnot. Maybe this is the year to simplify. Blessings!

    “Commercialmass is false jollity powered by spending and guilt. It’s the pressure to make a big day, even if you are tired, and worn and could do with a rest. It’s the time honoured tradition of pulling threads out of people who were already threadbare.”

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I gave it up nearly fifty years ago and I have never regretted leaving the stress and expense to others. It means that I do not get bombed with Christmas carols, nor do I ever go into debt. I have also dropped all the other holidays for much the same reason and regret none of it.

    We talk about the consumer society and the commercialism, but that means nothing if we go along with it. We can decide not to take part and to take control over our lives again. If you like some parts of the holiday, then do only the parts that you personally enjoy.

  • Mrs moons

    I hear you! I love a bit of hygge and a feast with friends and family. I love being cosy and fairy lights and bringing greenery into my home. But I do this all year round 😊

  • Christine Valentor

    Exactly! The Yuletide is, to me, about Winter, the return of light, silence and solitude as well as friends and family. The further we get away from the commercialism, the closer we bring ourselves to the true love of the season.

  • lornasmithers

    Love this and so relate. Commercialmess has got me so mad I’ve been called to ask my family to have a sit down on said day this year and have a talk about why are we doing said ‘festival’ on Dec 25th when none of us are Christian, whether we *really* want/need to buy gifts, if we *really* need a whole turkey (no, and it’s muggins here who’s the dustbin and ends up eating cold turkey for every meal for 3 days afterward cos I feel guilty about wasting it) and what could we eat instead. I’m quite happy to have a ‘family day’ but could quite happily eschew the gifts or at least cut down the spending and cut down decadence of the meal too. Bloody hate it and, if it wasn’t for family tradition, I’d spend the day far, far away from human civilisation!

  • Aurora J Stone

    I feel much same as Lorna. My partner and I are not doing the gift or huge over indulgent feast this year. Neither of us is Christian. Both of us really find the whole energy around the expectations of the day distasteful. We are giving gifts to children and grandchildren. And not extravagant ones either. As for gifts in general if we want to give them its more fun to do unexpectedly. We are seeing number one son, his wife and daughters on the 27th. The house will not be decked out. I really hate the waste of Christmas trees and the fake ones serve no purpose. We have some ivy growing in the fountain in our front reception room and I might augment it with some holly. I have asked permission of our surgery to take a few of the mistletoe berries on the tree in its car park so I can ‘plant’ them in our apple trees.

    I find the days after the 25th very hard, because I can sense all the disappointment and depletion of energy that follows the ‘big day’. There is so much pressure to have the ‘perfect’ holiday. But no one and no family is perfect so the imperfections are magnified by the expectations.

    Better to honour each other with kindness and gentleness, so that the gods might bless us, everyone.

  • James Pailly

    I don’t mind a little gift-giving, but almost every year I hear someone on television say something like, “We didn’t have a good Christmas this year because consumer spending was lower than expected.” That infuriates me.

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