The 10 Key Words That Explain The Phenomenon Of The Christmas And New Year Festive Season
What makes the last two weeks, or even three or four weeks of the year so exceptional? Why would it be so difficult for any other time of year to compete with this season, including even the most exciting summer time?
How does business benefits from the ideology of this festive period? How do we explain the great phenomenon of Christmas in a time of total decline of Christianity and when Jesus – who was the original “reason for the season” – is becoming insignificant and hardly known in a secular and consumerist society?
The magic of Christmas and New Year is absolutely amazing. During this time in December, sales in the majority of industries are higher than in all 11 previous months. And people’s satisfaction and overall well being is stronger than in the whole rest of the year.
There are a few interesting reasons. This is my private list of 10 values that make the Christmas and New Year season unequivocally the best.
Generosity is the first Christmas treat. We all have a very strong attitude of generosity during this special time. Firstly, we spend most of it thinking about others, and buying them gifts. In fact, over 60% of Christmas spending is on gifts. We are also more willing to give money to charities.
This idea of giving is what make this time so profitable! What makes this time great is not possession, it is giving t- a great lesson for business. I would say that is the best evidence that the old ancient rule “giving is more blessed than receiving” really works. According to the FT: ‘Studies have found that people who do acts of kindness experience increased happiness and well-being.’
As Edwin Louis Cole put it, “Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.” The fact is that we all, or at least the majority of us, have a great deal of noble expectations with regard to Christmas. We simply project our past beautiful and positive experiences onto the future Christmas and New Year season. According to well known theories of expectancy, there is strong and positive correlation between certain behaviours and desirable outcomes. And because, as usual, we want to achieve desirable outcomes, we have no problem sacrificing our time, energy and money, and even our own convenience.
One of my favourite top 10 thinkers of the 20th century, Umberto Eco, wrote about the power of Christmas: “I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We’ll construct it together – as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions – which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.”
What Eco is talking about here is the power of ritual. When we make rituals in parts of our lives, and businesses, the world becomes more clear and predictable. Ritual very often makes a business very profitable. My favourite example is Hollywood cinema, where film genres such as thriller, science fiction, musical, comedy etc., are based on the concept of repetitive and predictable rituals.
Christmas really brings out our “internal kid”. Everyone who is even a little interested in psychoanalysis must be aware of how powerful our early life experiences are, stored in an unconscious mind. December is designed specially for kids. It begins on 6th December with Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) and until the end of month is a paradise for children, with this atmosphere of giving, buying, playing, dreaming, and spending time with family and friends.
During this time, we are immersed in great stories on the mysterious Santa Claus, travelling through the world with his reindeers and a sleighs full of fantastic gifts for those who believe in him! This time is also a favourite for the greatest film and TV series premiers. `And the culmination is, of course, the birth of the king of kings, Jesus, in a small manger; a birth which brings hope for a better life for mankind.
The Christmas season is also a time of victory. We subconsciously comprehend that life is designed to be a beautiful and powerful experience, where our dreams comes true effortlessly and the world is a peaceful, safe and abundant place, like in a paradise, the concept of which is one of the strongest points of reference during this period. Even “holiday” sounds very special now, as the etymology of this term is “a holy day.”
Powerful vision is the foundation of Christmas. The vision of a happy life and the light of a new life in the middle of the darkest and coldest time of the year. An astounding idea!
This is the time when the sacred sphere of existence enlightens and ennobles the profane dimension of our lives.
Did I miss something? Of course, love! Love is is the cornerstone of this and any time. As Bob Hope put it so perfectly: “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”