30.11.2017 change 04.12.2017

Ethnologist: Christmas decorations in November are less surprising

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Christmas decorations in shopping centres in November does not shock us any more and is less surprising - believes ethnologist Dr. Grzegorz Odoj. He cautions, however, that through this extended time of commercial preparation for the holidays we should not start to value this period more than the holidays themselves.

Dr. Grzegorz Odoj from the Faculty of Ethnology and Educational Science of the University of Silesia told PAP that in Poland the phenomenon of Christmas decorations in November intensified in recent years. "One could say that even before the lights go out on the graves of our loved ones, everything changes in the temples of consumption - props, gadgets connected with Christmas appear, as does climatic music that we associate with this +magic+ of holidays. People find it less surprising now, I think that this is already becoming the rule" - he said.

He added that while older people can still wonder if it\'s not too early, for the young generation it is normal.

Dr. Odoj pointed out that now every holiday is commercialised, and Christmas is commercialised in a special way. "All salespeople try to earn as much as possible during this time. Therefore, the commercial preparation for Christmas has been extending for a good few years" - he noted.

In his opinion, this may be reflected in last year\'s slogan of one of the companies: the previous slogan: "Feel the magic of Christmas" was changed into: "Feel the magic of preparations for Christmas".

He added that during this period people behave less rationally and are willing to make emotional purchases, justifying that after all Christmas happen only once a year. "But you must admit that we like to be led. We know that these companies use various marketing tricks, but we like it" - said Dr. Odoj.

"And now we should consider whether it does not happen like in the consumer culture countries, that we value, experience Christmas more in this extended, almost two-month period of preparation than during Christmas itself. Admit that we feel good in these large-scale stores - outside it\'s grey, frosty, and we enter the colourful, fabulous, fragrant shopping space with all this music, mood - it is pleasant for us" - said the scientist.

But this extension of the festive atmosphere may lead to the one effect mentioned by Dr. Odoj: lack of ability to experience Christmas itself.

"We waited for Christmas for two months, and on the first day of Christmas we wake up and wonder: now what? All entertainment and shopping centres are closed, do we have a plan for Christmas? We know how to prepare, buy, think about presents, scour sales racks, buy additional gadgets, cheap CDs with carols, even though we already have dozens. But now what? A friend told me that fortunately +Home Alone+ on TV has become part of the celebration tradition and helps to get in the mood" - he said.

The researcher pointed out, however, that Christmas is not ordinary free time, like the weekend; "it is something more." "It is emphasising the importance of certain values, the attitude towards another human being - it may sound pathetic, but the celebration is the opposite of everyday life" - said Dr. Odoj.

"Whether we like it or not, we are already a consumer society and we get used to certain standards, norms, behaviours related to this period of preparation, which we associate with the gloss of consumption offered by large shopping and entertainment centres" - noted the ethnologist.

In his opinion, to make more informed choices it is important to be aware of the functioning of certain commercial mechanisms. "And to be aware that these marketing activities do not really have much to do with real preparation for Christmas" - he said.

In conclusion, the ethnologist pointed out that in his opinion there is no turning back from these mechanisms. "We have already gotten used to this specific climate and we like it. +Feel the magic of preparations for Christmas+. What kind of preparation is that? I think the creators of this commercial wink at us and say: you know what\'s that about and we know it too. It is an unwritten agreement. We are participants in this great consumer fun" - said Dr. Odoj. (PAP)

Science in Poland

author: Agnieszka Kliks-Pudlik

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