Christmas and Economics

Thoughts on a Free Market Economy…

“Christmas and Economics”
By Phyllis Hunsinger
December 1, 2016

The celebration of Christmas in America is an interesting journey. In the 1600’s, the Puritans were not allowed to exchange gifts, light a candle, or sing Christmas carols. Dutch Immigrants during the 17th century brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas. And in 1773 Santa first appeared in the media as St. A Claus. Christmas was so inconsequential in early America that after the Revolutionary War, Congress decided to hold its first session on Christmas Day, 1789. Almost a century later, Congress proclaimed it a federal holiday.

During the early 1800’s, Washington Irving included Saint Nicolas in a book about New York and Clement Moore is believed to have written a poem that has become known as “The Night Before Christmas.” By the early 1900’s Santa’s image had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight, jolly man dressed in a red suit with white trim. Coca Cola included Santa images in their Christmas advertisements. Robert May, while working for the Montgomery Ward Company, created a poem about Rudolph, the ninth reindeer. Some ten years later Johnny Marks wrote the song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which Gene Autry made famous.

F.W. Woolworth first brought glass ornaments to the mass market in the United States when he imported them from a small German supplier. Candy canes have a long history dating back centuries in Germany when they were reportedly given to young children to keep them quiet through the Christmas nativity service. The tradition of sending Christmas cards began in the 1800’s along with the introduction of Santa Claus in the stores. By 1890, the Salvation Army had begun the practice of sending men dressed in Santa suits into the streets of New York City to solicit donations to pay for holiday meals for the needy.

Today Christmas is a sacred religious holiday for many. Christmas is also a worldwide cultural and commercial industry. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Some people believe the commercialism of Christmas is blurring the meaning of Christmas. In this brief examination of the history of the celebration of Christmas it becomes obvious that the free market has provided the Christmas traditions we enjoy. Merry Christmas to all!, Phyllis Hunsinger © 2013 All Rights Reserved

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