Literature Review

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Josh Beal
English 106
Professor Laverick
September 14, 2010

Christmas
Christmas is an important holiday for everyone in America. It emphasizes a time of fellowship and giving between loved ones and family. Unfortunately, Christmas in America has changed throughout the years. The social traditions of Christmas in America have changed from a traditional celebration of American families and the celebration of Christ’s birth to a prideful, competitive marketing strategy to increase economic growth for manufacturers. Christmas is about giving, not getting, and it is important to remember that. Through this literature review, I will discuss the history of Christmas in America and focus on its origin, traditions, and marketing aspects and how it has progressed throughout the years. I have selected five articles from various areas using the library database. Each article emphasizes a different aspect of Christmas. Some focus on the origin of Christmas and its history and others emphasize the origins of its traditions and how Christmas has become a battlefield for American marketing. Each article is beneficial in the efforts to see how the focus of Christmas has changed in America.

The first article I reviewed was “By Jove! It’s Christmas.” This article was written in 2009 by Matt Salusbury and emphasizes the origin of Christmas. In this article, Salusbury describes how Christmas actually began in Rome as the celebration of the winter solstice known as Saturnalia. He does not make clear though when the convergence of Saturnalia and Christmas took place. I chose this article because it gives a detailed account on the origin of Christmas and its close ties with Saturnalia. This is important to readers because they need to understand how Christmas originated in order to fully comprehend the whole concept of Christmas. The main importance of the first article I chose is its emphasis of how Christmas originated. This is unique compared to the other four articles because it gives the account of how Christmas originated from the pagan celebration of Saturnalia. Readers must first understand how Christmas began before realizing how it has progressed. Salusbury (2009) uses statements such as “The majority of modern scholars would be reluctant to accept any close connection between the Saturnalia and the emergence of the Christian Christmas.” This gives the assumption that Christmas and its traditions are closely tied to the celebration of Saturnalia in Rome. Many practices such as the giving of small gifts and marches were invocated that can be closely related to modern day Christmas. Understanding this relation can be beneficial in the overall conception of Christmas in how it originated. Another article I chose is “Christianity in the Marketplace: Christmas and the Consumer Culture” written by Leigh Eric Schmidt. This article, written in 1992, focuses on the marketplace of Christmas and how it is being changed from its original intentions to a competitive marketing strategy. Schmidt focuses on four themes throughout the article: when did the holiday and consumer culture emerge, the subversion of religious meaning and how it affects the churches, in what sense did the relationship between Christianity and the market develop, and the critics of commercialization. I selected this Schmidt’s article primarily because of these four themes based upon the relationship of Christmas and the consumer market. Reviewing this article, one can understand how Christmas has changed primarily through the marketing of America.

This article is unique because it focuses on the relationship between the consumer market and the true meaning of Christmas. This is an important concept in understanding how Christmas has changed in the last century. Schmidt (1992) notes how “Wanamaker's Grand Court in Philadelphia became at Christmas almost literally a church,” emphasizing that the early marketplace and the church were almost unified...
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