December’s migraine-inducing ritual
This Christmas will be unique. Many people will shop online rather than in-person at the shops. On December 25, many will shop online or at home, so it’s a great time to reflect on the history of Christmas shopping.
An article on Fashionista stated that Christmas shopping started in America between 1880-1899. The growth of the middle class, industrialization and Christmas shopping had a significant impact on . “Christmas gifts were made in America up until the 1880s. After the American emigration to large cities in the late 1800s, it became more common to gift and buy manufactured goods. This made holiday shopping an integral part of the Christian holiday. Even though it was only a few years old, Americans began to dislike the commercialization of the holiday and fear of it in 1900.
Christmas shopping and celebration in Canada didn’t really take off until the 20th century. A Canadian Encyclopedia states that Christmas was not celebrated in Canada during the first half of the 19th century. It was the most popular annual holiday in Canada by the beginning of the 20th Century and took the form it has today.
The Christmas spirit and the shopping experience would be drastically diminished without Santa Claus. Nicholas, a Turkish monk who was born in 280 AD is the source of Santa Claus. While he was travelling the country, St. Nicholas shared his wealth with the needy and the rich. In the late 18th century, St. Nicholas was popularised first in American culture. Dutch families would come together to remember the death of “Sint Nikolaas” or “SinterKlaas,” which in Dutch is Saint Nicholas. This would serve as the basis of “Santa Claus.”
Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote “An Account From a Visit from St. Nicholas” (1822). The story featured Santa Claus riding on a reindeer-driven sled, delivering toys. Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist immortalised Santa Claus’ image as a cheerful man wearing a red suit, white beard, and carrying a bag full of toys. Moore’s poem was the inspiration for the Old Saint Nick image, which is so well-known today.
A tradition for holiday shopping is to visit large Christmas window displays at department stores. Amy Schulman, Cultural Trip’s Food Editor, states that Macy’s New York was the one to start this tradition. However, it wasn’t until 1874 that RH Macy (Macy’s owner at the time) gathered a collection of porcelain dolls and posed them in scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin before the NYC holiday windows were made.
The Christmas window displays of Woodward were an important part Vancouver’s history. These displays were first displayed at Woodward’s department store, located on the corner with Hastings Street & Abbott Street. The displays featured both traditional holiday scenes and animated characters. The displays also featured intricate and detailed decorations. Canada Place took the displays from Woodward’s in 1993 and saved them from storage. The Christmas window displays at Woodward were an integral part of Canada Place’s annual Christmas event. They were forced to close due to the pandemic.
The Christmas window displays and Christmas shopping will not be available to everyone. People may be able revisit Christmas traditions next year if they are given a vaccine.