Spring For It

How is it that Easter has managed to escape the whole U.S. over-commercialize everything ethos. I mean, sure it hasn’t escaped it completely but when it comes down to it, selling a lot of candy, eggs, and flowers is a whole lot less conspicuous consumption than what’s been done to Christmas and Halloween.

I’ve talked before about how there’s really no big summer Christian holiday but that they’ve got the other three covered. There’s Halloween for fall and that’s turned into a big money maker what with costumes, candy, and massive street fairs. There’s Christmas for winter, and Christmas just about defines conspicuous consumption. And Easter covers spring and handles the big fertility celebrations while managing to stay small and focused. Sure there’s a lot of food dye sold and a bunch of stuffed animals but as spending goes it’s pretty small potatoes.

So I asked God to give me a clue. It can’t be the death thing, everybody being bummed out over Christ dying on the cross, because, well, look at Halloween. It can’t be that we don’t know how to commercialize somebody coming back from the dead, what with even Time magazine running a story the other day about the success of zombies in movies, books and games. So what is it? Have we just not gotten around to it yet?

Actually, what God told me is that it’s an optimism thing. Spring just naturally brings out the optimism in people, and even the story of Easter, for all the downer of the crucifixion, is still ultimately about redemption and hope. But both religion and capitalism do their best work by pushing pessimism. Fear increases sales. Apparently it’s a lot easier to get people to buy stuff they don’t need by making them think it might be bad if they don’t, than it is getting people to buy stuff because it might be good if they do.

So the next time you’re thinking about buying something, try to relax a little and try to figure out if anything bad really is going to happen if you don’t buy it. I mean, you can always buy it later, and if it’s on sale, well, if people really needed it, really had to have it, well, if that were true they wouldn’t have needed to put it on sale in the first place. So buy what you need, buy what you want, but don’t buy just because they’re trying to scare you.

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