December 13, 2013

Commercialization of Christmas in history

Over the past century Americans have turned Christmas into a very expensive holiday. In 1994 Americans spent more than $55 billion on Christmas purchases, a marked increase over the $37 billion they spent in 1987. In fact, these Christmas purchases account for just fewer than twenty percent of all retail goods sold in the United States each year and up to fifty percent of retailers’ yearly profits. In 1994 the American Greetings Company sold 1.7 billion linear feet of wrapping paper, enough to circle the globe 12 times. However, in the nineteenth century Christmas was not a very important holiday. In the early part of the nineteenth century Americans who celebrated Christmas sometimes gave gifts to the poor and to servants. Christmas gifts were not that common, and most Christmas expectations were towards food and drinks. In the decade following the Civil war, American retailers began to cash in on the increasing popularity of Christmas. After 1870, newspaper advertisements started prompting products as potential Christmas gifts.

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