David Blunkett, Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s cabinet from 2001 to 2004, wants us all to “reappraise our approach” to Christmas because M&S started selling mince pies in September.
“Christmas is a Christian holiday”, says Blunkett. He believes that the Christian element of Christmas is disappearing with every over-marketed year that passes. It is extremely likely that advent calendars can be found in your local high street shops, like Sainsbury’s, ludicrously early every year. Baubles can be found in John Lewis at the end of summer. Blunkett wants us all to “reappraise our approach” to Christmas.
David Blunkett does not agree with the premature introduction of Christmas marketing to high street shops. He hopes to restore the “meaning” of Christmas. He wrote a letter to The Times and claimed that many have forgotten that Christmas is a Christian celebration. The Telegraph used the statistic that just over 1% of Christmas cards featured the birth of Jesus in 2012. I rarely buy Christmas cards and when I do I buy cards with pictures of robins wearing sparkly hats or of a Chihuahua eating a mince pie. Even then, it’s to send to my Grandma. Despite Christian figures not being present on products being marketed, the values of Christmas and values within Christianity are still ever-present, such as the importance of giving gifts and spending time with your loved ones.
I agree with Blunkett that Christmas as a Christian holiday is being forgotten. However, I do not agree that Christmas should be introduced into our shops from December 1st. I like to think that the whole atmosphere that accompanies Christmas is largely provided by these marketing ploys that start in September. Arguably, the sheer number of twinkly lights and baubles found hanging from lampposts and shop windows from September could simply be these shops’ attempts to increase their number of shoppers with the growing number of consumers shopping online. However, I like going into John Lewis on October 3rd and being able to choose which bauble to buy my mum for Christmas.
There are countless Christmas marketing schemes that us, as consumers, have become as excited for in comparison to Christmas day itself. John Lewis’ annual, long-awaited Christmas adverts are just one example. My personal favourite being ‘Monty the Penguin’ in 2014, featuring Tom Odell’s cover of John Lennon’s ‘Real Love’. The point is that these adverts get us all excited for Christmas. These marketing ploys are designed to get us to spend money of course, but also they join us all together. Whether we love or hate Christmas entering our lives two months early, we all watch these adverts and we all talk about them. They stick with us. So much so that some of us are still watching them on YouTube at three in the morning in June.
Not only is Christmas introduced to our high street shops and department stores but it is also introduced into our cities. Oxford Street officially turns on their Christmas lights on November 6th of this year, over a month before the celebration itself. It is not only a huge tourist attraction but another form of uniting us all, through Christmas. Yes, these attractions may not be live-action nativity scenes drawing everyone in, but the sentiments of Christmas still remain. Our university has the annual turning on of the Christmas lights and over a thousand of us gather around in the freezing cold to simply watch these lights turn on. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s magical!
Blunkett’s argument is seemingly religion-based as he believes that the Christian element is being brushed over. However, it is not untrue to say that we are no longer a largely Christian country and this element of Christmas is likely not to be valued by all.
Christmas, for some, is specifically a December holiday and therefore being surrounded with advent calendars even before Halloween is understandably irritating. On the other hand, others are ready for Christmas all year round. Boxing Day is just another way of saying let the 364 day countdown begin.
Blunkett wants Christmas advertising to begin on 1st December. What do you think?