Life&Style Writer Julia Cawelé reflects on christmas consumerism, and how the festive season has been transformed into a commercial holiday.
In recent years, the celebration of Christmas has become increasingly intertwined with consumerism and materialistic values. As the holiday season approaches, stores are filled with advertisements promoting the latest gadgets and must-have gifts. The media plays a significant role in encouraging consumerism during Christmas. Advertisements inundate us with messages urging us to buy, buy, buy in order to create the perfect holiday experience. To top it off is the added pressure of the social media age, where our apps act as 24/7 city billboards. It seems like every year the craze for Christmas becomes more extravagant.
In recent years, a popular marker that the holiday season has begun has been propelled by non-other than the globally-proclaimed Queen of Christmas: pop singer, Mariah Carey. Carey is widely renowned in the pop-culture zeitgeist as a Christmas figurehead, afforded by her catchy Christmas songs that dominate the music charts every year in the advent to Christmas. The main hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, released in 1994 as the lead single from her first Christmas album ‘Merry Christmas’, has held the number 1 single position on Billboard charts for the last four years, and likely going on five.
The song alone seemingly ushered in a new era of Christmas upon its release in the mid-90s. Many musicians shied away from producing Christmas music as Christmas was universally known as a time when people prefer to stick to old classics and traditional Christian hymns, meaning there was a lack of a market out there for it. Despite this, the unique tune hit it off internationally and is now considered a classic itself, a moniker of a modern post-millennium Christmas.
We must note however, how in the last 5 years it seems the song has been amplified in its connection to Christmas time. There have been many conversations online stating Mariah Carey is now the face of Christmas, with some even going as far as to position her next to the reason for the season himself, Jesus Christ. Thus, it is interesting to see how modern notions of Christmas as a time of overspending and complete indulgence in commercial products weigh up against traditional beliefs of Christmas as a season for gratitude and helping others.
Mariah herself annually signs six-figure advertisement deals with retail giants clambering to attach her name their sales pitch knowing sales will soar. The 2021 ‘The Mariah Menu’ launch at McDonald’s across the US saw much success. The deal let customers get free food with a simple one-dollar purchase, racking in over $10 million dollars in revenue. The commercials for the collaboration of course featured the song as jingle, which I’m sure Mariah herself made a pretty penny from. The Singer has also partnered with a number of other brands over the years including Walkers Crisps, M.A.C Cosmetics and more recently this year, Victoria’s Secret.
Despite many online proclaiming her as the Christmas Queen with many making memes of her mega popularity at Christmas, Mariah herself has made light of jokes. In recent years the world anticipates a new video starring Mariah ringing in the holiday season across social media.
Taking on the widely shared joke of her ‘defrosting’ at Christmas, this year’s video featured her defrosting from inside an ice block, with her moniker high note cracking the ice entering a winter wonderland. With many people making TikToks to the song, from Christmas shopping hauls to dance routines, it’s safe to say Mariah’s hit has characterised the Christmases of the millennial generation who now have their own families that will carry the song on for many more decades. With classic lyrics of wishes, sleigh bells and mistletoe, the perfect combination of modernity and tradition has made the song a timeless hit that will last for a long time.
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