Once again, I find myself overtaken by the tsunami of mass-produced shit that is the British market for seasonal gifts. On Monday (29th September 2015), my local Cooperative, Morrisons and Poundland had already got Halloween stuff on their shelves. Yesterday (30 September), the Sheffield “Christmas Shop” was stocking up and displaying a sign saying open.
Last year, my wife told me that she had been in a shop and overheard a child nagging their parents for a Halloween advent calendar. The pedant in me pointed out that “advent” has a very particular meaning, but that’s not the point. It’s just another highly manipulative way of selling more shit to weary parents via the powerful marketing tool of pester-power.
It was too late by the time I heard about the Halloween advent calendar last year, but by way of compensation, this year I have decided to steal that idea, but adapt it to include the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) celebration. Unlike our consumption-fest, this is a commemoration of friends and relatives who have died, and is normally celebrated between 31st October and 2nd November. According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Roman Catholic church coincided All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) with existing pre-christian local celebrations, rather like the hijacking of Midwinter and Easter.
My Halloween advent calendar will publish a graphic each day (first one shown above), referencing the day of the dead, but also with each day depicting Stalky Ringbits as a representative of a particularly rapacious corporation or imperialistic nation. See if you can spot them.
There will also be a “making of video” for each of the 31 graphics counting down until Halloween. Here is the first:
Collect the set!
It seems I’m behind the curve yet again. Just as I was starting to think about this year’s anti-Christmas commercialism satire, I find myself left standing at the starting line, once again.
Idly, I dropped by John Lewis’ website on 14th September 2015 only to find they have already stocked their online shop with a very healthy range of Christmas supplies. I haven’t seen any TV or newspaper adverts yet, so maybe this is just a “soft opening”, but I was a litle shocked at how early it is and how comprehensive is their range of Christmas essentials.
What’s more, and I am assuming they got this idea from me, for those happy shoppers who are uncomfortable about the religious aspect of Christmas, they also have a range of “Midwinter” goods to satisfy any middle-class atheists and pagans with disposable income.
As I’ve said before, I do not have it in for John Lewis in particular, but my attention was drawn to them by that mawkish and manipulative Monty the Penguin campaign last year. My response was Wally the Lonely Penguin.
I await this year’s campaign with baited breath.
A few days ago, a friend posted a message of frustration on Facebook about how she doesn’t want to hear anything about Christmas, either positive of negative, and I wholeheartedly agree, although I thought she was being a little premature.
Not so. The missus has just returned from our local Matalan, only to inform me that reindeer-shaped homeware is being stacked on the shelves and, according to the Manchester Evening News, Primark have already launched a range of tasteful Christmas jumpers.
When I say tasteful, I mean crass, of course.
This kind of cynicism is making us satirists redundant. It’s almost impossible to parody this anymore. Soon Christmas will be reminiscent of the US-sponsored policy of endless war, but as a continuous holiday season of middle-class, capitalist consumption.
Something I didn’t know (but Wikipedia sorted me out) is that in most Christian denominations, advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (not necessarily December 1st), meaning that this year it begins on 29th of November. However,“In the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite of the Catholic Church, Advent begins on the sixth Sunday before Christmas, the Sunday after St. Martin’s Day (11 November).”
I had thought of conflating Halloween and Christmas into a kind of Advent Xtra, counting down from 1st October all the way to 24th December, but I am already too late.
I await inspiration for my own Christmas satire, either self-incepted or as a response to the forthcoming pre-Christmas storm.