When Did Christmas Become Commercialized

When Did Christmas Become Commercialized? Answered

Last Updated on May 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

Christmas used to be an exhilarating occasion for me when I was younger, but now it seems like the only thing that holds importance is receiving gifts and going shopping for them.

It has become too commercialized, which means it’s focused on buying and selling stuff instead of the true meaning of the holiday. But when did Christmas become commercialized? 

Today, I’ll explain how and when this transformation happened and why Christmas isn’t just about celebrating anymore. Keep reading. 

When Was Christmas First Commercialized?

Santa Claus Putting Gifts on a Christmas Tree

Christmas, as we know it today, began its commercial transformation in the 1840s. Marketers recognized it as a golden opportunity to boost sales [1]. 

This period saw the emergence of Santa Claus as a central figure in advertising campaigns, particularly in major cities like New York City and Boston.

“The birth of the modern Christmas, with its shopping sprees and gift exchanges, can be traced back to the 19th century, when commercialism began to dance alongside tradition.”

Howkapow Gift Site

However, the turning point came in 1862 when Macy’s department store in New York City introduced the first in-store Santa Claus, further binding the holiday’s commercial ties. 

This move drew shoppers and cemented the association between Christmas and consumerism. But what exactly does Christmas time smell like?

Who Was The First To Commercialize Christmas?

One of the pioneers in commercializing Christmas was R.H. Macy, the owner of Macy’s department store in New York City. 

In 1862, he played a groundbreaking role by introducing the first in-store Santa Claus, allowing children to visit and interact with this iconic holiday figure. 

Macy’s took this innovative step to create special holiday presentations that attracted shoppers and solidified the association between Christmas and consumerism. 

You might also like to read about explaining to a child the meaning of Christmas here.

Who Made Christmas Popular?

The person who made Christmas popular was Charles Dickens. In the early 19th century, people imagined that Tudor-style Christmas was all about heartfelt joy and celebrations. 

But in 1843, Charles Dickens wrote a book called “A Christmas Carol.” This special book brought back the true “spirit” of Christmas and the happiness that comes with it. 

Through his storytelling, Dickens reminded people about the warmth and cheer that should define the holiday season. 

So, thanks to his book, Christmas became popular as a time for love, generosity, and merriment.

Is Christmas Becoming Excessively Commercial?

In a 2021 survey, 62% of American adults believed Christmas has become excessively commercialized. 

They perceive the holiday as being increasingly dominated by consumerism [2]. 

In contrast, 26% do not share this viewpoint, suggesting they may feel the commercial aspects are manageable. 

Besides, 12% remain uncertain, highlighting the ongoing debate regarding the commercialization of Christmas. 

This data underscores the growing concern among most Americans that commercial pursuits overshadow Christmas’s true spirit and meaning.

You might also like to read about where to donate Christmas decorations here.

How Can Christmas Consumerism Be Avoided?

Person Opening Gift

1. Prioritize People & Not Things

It’s all about spending time with people you love, not just buying stuff. Instead of getting caught up in buying, we focus on being together. 

Remember, the people you care about are more important than the things you can buy. 

So, during Christmas, hang out with your family and friends, laugh, and have a good time. That’s what truly matters.

2. Give Generously

During Christmas, it’s a great time to practice kindness and generosity. Instead of thinking only about what we want to receive, we can think about what we can give others. 

It could be small acts of kindness, like helping someone in need or sharing a thoughtful card or homemade gift. 

Giving generously reminds us that the joy of giving can be even greater than getting, and it makes Christmas a more meaningful and special time for everyone.

Check out these reasons why Christmas is the best holiday here.

3. Consider “No Cost” Gifts

Instead of buying expensive presents, think about gifts that don’t cost much or even nothing. 

It could be making a particular card, offering your help, or creating something homemade. 

These gifts show you care without spending lots of cash.

4. Find Quiet Moments

In the busy holiday season, take some time to be quiet and calm. Turn off the noisy advertisements and find moments to think, relax, and enjoy the peaceful side of Christmas. 

It helps you remember what’s important.

5. Change Your Traditions

Sometimes, it’s good to change the way you celebrate Christmas. 

The holiday season can be celebrated in new ways by putting the emphasis not on material acquisitions but on the company of loved ones and the spreading of joy. 

“I love the excitement, the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas.” 

Hillary Scott, American Singer-Songwriter

Changing traditions can make Christmas more meaningful.

Read: Where Can You Donate Artificial Christmas Trees?


Who sent the first commercially made Christmas card?

The first commercially made Christmas card was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. He was known for introducing the penny post and serving as the first Director of the V&A. 

How much did the first Christmas card sold in stores cost?

The first Christmas card, designed by Sir Henry Cole and artist John Horsley in 1843, was sold for 1 shilling each. In today’s currency, that’s equivalent to just 5 pence or 8 cents. 

When exactly did Christmas become a US holiday?

On June 28, 1870, Christmas was officially proclaimed a legal holiday; however, they would not be compensated for taking the day off. 

Which state was the last to declare Christmas a holiday officially?

Oklahoma holds the distinction of being the last state to recognize Christmas as a holiday officially. 

This recognition came when Oklahoma officially became a part of the United States in 1907. 

Bottom Line

Two key points emerge in my research of when Christmas became commercialized. 

Firstly, Christmas began its commercial transformation in the 1840s, with marketers like R.H. Macy and Charles Dickens playing pivotal roles. 

Macy’s, in 1862, notably introduced the first in-store Santa Claus, reshaping the holiday’s commercial landscape. 

Secondly, today’s perception of Christmas as excessively commercial is strengthened by a 2021 survey where 62% of American adults felt the holiday had become over-commercialized. 

This data highlights the ongoing tension between the traditional spirit of Christmas and its increasingly consumer-driven nature. 


Kimberlee Johnson
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