Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most recognised, popular and celebrated holiday in the festive calender around the world.
It has evolved from a pagan midwinter festival to the religious commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ to a civil holiday in many countries. Jolly old Santa Claus and the mass adoption of gift-giving has transformed Christmas into an industry and even an economy.
In 2011 the PNC Total Christmas Price Index calculated the costs of gifts in the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" carol at USD24,263.18. If the US National Retail Federation forecast is correct, Christmas sales in US this year alone would be worth USD586.1 billion.
In Australia, there are some tightening of purse strings in some households for 2012 Christmas based on research by Dun & Bradstreet but Margy Osmond, CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) said that local retailers were still expecting Christmas spending to be slightly higher than last year.
In 2011, Canadians spend an average of CAD1,397during the holiday season according to the Bank of Montreal's Holiday Spending Outlook.
Major metropolitan cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore will continue to gear up for Christmas sales and heightened consumer spending on gifts, dining, entertainment and holidays.
Their streets will be lit up like Christmas trees and shopping malls will be trading into the late hours to attract more shoppers to spend.
With all the commercialism of Christmas around us, it is hard not to spend money during the festive season. There's always food to purchase, parties to attend and gifts to buy.
Like most folks, I'll be digging into my wallet during the festive period but there must be more to Christmas than just spending money.
The meaning of Christmas is surely not found in scrambling to buy gifts under $20 or $100 on Groupon or Cudos or queuing up in the toy store for the latest Ben 10 omnitrix or a Barbie that sings and swims for the kids.
For someone who is travelling most of the year, I don't always enjoy quality time with family. Christmas becomes a timely a reminder to find the best ways to create precious moments and put smiles on the faces of loved ones. What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas is my favourite time of year. It is about getting together with family and friends, exchanging gifts, decorating the tree and house but most of all, and very importantly, it is about the birth of Jesus. God's gift to the world.
The anniversary of the birth of the Person whose name means "Saviour of the world", and "Messiah" ( i.e. He who was, to quote dictionary.com, "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." which means everyone in the world).
Whilst Christmas is a time that family get together, and retailers dream of money, it is a pity to forget why we celebrate in the first place: Gods Great Gift to us of his only son Jesus.
the timing of the celebration was fixed because its rarely a good idea to take something away without offering something in return ie take away Saturnalia, replace it with Christmas - who cares if the dates are wrong? we all like a festival.
I struggle with the commercialism of Christmas and what the true meaning is. I agree it evolved from the return of the sun into the world (spelt correctly) and changed into something else. So, the meaning was - the return of light into the dark world - so do we celebrate that? We change it into whatever we want usually, and I don't think I have a full understanding of what it means to me these days.