The Impact of Consumerism on America: The Rise of Consumer Holidays
The purpose of this essay is to explore how consumerism has shaped America by looking at the rise of consumer holidays and their role in promoting different aspects of the social and economic lives of Americans. Consumerism is defined as an economic and social doctrine that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing quantities (1). In America, consumerism has been further fuelled by the concept of planned obsolescence, which suggests that products are designed to break down or go out of style after a certain period of time so that consumers will have to buy replacement items (2). As a result, Americans have become accustomed to a culture of consumption in which they are constantly buying new things.
Holidays are an important part of American culture and play a significant role in promoting consumerism. There are both national and commercial holidays, and while some holidays have religious origins, others are simply secular celebrations that have become ingrained in American society. Commercial holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas have become extremely popular and are celebrated by millions of Americans every year. These holidays typically involve the exchange of gifts, which provides a boost to the economy as people spend money on presents for their loved ones. Religious holidays such as Easter and Passover are also widely celebrated in America and often involve the giving of gifts, but to a lesser extent than commercial holidays.
In addition to traditional holidays, there are also numerous regional and local celebrations that take place throughout America. These celebrations typically involve the consumption of food and drink, and often include special events or activities such as parades or concerts. Local holidays are often tied to specific traditions or cultural groups, such as Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day.
The rise of consumer holidays in America can be traced back to the early days of the nation’s history. One of the first consumer holidays was Thanksgiving, which was originally celebrated by the Pilgrims to give thanks for their successful harvest. The holiday eventually became a national event, with President Abraham Lincoln declaring it a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863 (3).
Valentine’s Day is another early example of a consumer holiday in America. The holiday originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia, which was celebrated every February 15th (4). The festival was eventually outlawed by Emperor Claudius II because it was considered too rowdy, but it was later revived by Pope Gelasius I who declared February 14th to be St. Valentine’s Day (5). The holiday eventually became popular in America during the 19th century when Esther Howland began mass-producing valentines (6). Today, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular consumer holidays in America, with millions of people exchanging cards, flowers, and other gifts every year.
Mother’s Day is another popular consumer holiday that has its origins in America. The holiday was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia (7). The service was so well-received that Jarvis decided to hold similar events across America, and Mother’s Day eventually became a national holiday in 1914 (8). Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated by giving mothers gifts such as flowers, cards, and chocolates.
Christmas is perhaps the most famous consumer holiday in America. The holiday has its origins in the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but it has also been influenced by pagan traditions such as the Yule log and the giving of gifts. Christmas became a national holiday in America in 1870, and it has since become increasingly commercialized, with stores selling Christmas decorations and presents months in advance (9).
Easter is another popular consumer holiday that has religious origins. The holiday celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and is typically observed by attending church services and giving gifts such as Easter eggs and chocolate bunny rabbits. Easter has also become increasingly commercialized in recent years, with stores selling Easter decorations and chocolate eggs months in advance (10).
The role of consumer holidays in promoting different aspects of the social and economic lives of Americans is evident from the examples discussed above. holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter promote family values by encouraging people to spend time with their loved ones. They also provide a boost to the economy as people spend money on gifts and food. In addition, consumer holidays often involve the exchange of cards and other items, which helps to promote friendship and relationships. Finally, consumer holidays often have religious origins, which helps to promote religious beliefs and values.
In conclusion, consumerism has had a significant impact on America, shaping the country in a variety of ways. The rise of consumer holidays has played a particularly important role in promoting different aspects of the social and economic lives of Americans. As consumer holidays become increasingly commercialized, they are likely to continue to have a significant impact on American culture.