Holiday Economics: The Narratives that Got Us Shopping

By Youfeng (Gloria) Pan, Staff Writer

Halloween is coming. All the department stores are decorated Halloween-themed. All the pumpkins are in place. Cookies are colorful and cutely iced. They are ready to serve all the visitors and customers. How did Halloween storytelling, dancing and singing become a shopping festival?

Did you know Santa Clause actually wore green instead of red? In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned the artist Haddon Sundblom to paint a red Santa for its advertisement. Ever since then, Santa adorned with Coca Cola red has stuck into the minds of generations.

Courtesy of Davide Andreani Coca-Cola

Coca Cola has always been creative in advertising. We can look to the trendy and topical Coke ad “What Makes Someone Canadian”, and the heart-warming ad “Share a White Christmas” bridging Finland and Singapore with Christmas spirit. The nearly $42 billion company doesn’t just sell syrup, but also narratives.

Valentine’s Day is another twisted story. It originated in religious symbolism and was celebrated in 1400 through written Valentine’s greetings. However, in the 1840s, Esther Howland, the “Mother of Valentine”, began the fashion of mass produced Valentine’s gifts, with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.

Courtesy of US News Money

How many Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year? Approximately 1 billion. The original Valentine wouldn’t be able to imagine his story being consumed this way and creating this huge economic value.

Last week, did you join the celebration of Diwali at Thunderbird campus? Did you have fun and learn more about this festival? Diwali is an official holiday in many Asian countries, including Singapore, as well as the most popular festival in Hinduism celebrate lights and hopes. My Indian friends said people can take a month of vacation for this festival, visiting families and friends, shopping incessantly and traveling to different destinations.

Black Friday is another example of holiday economy. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day. Since 1952, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. In 2015, 102 million people shopped in stores and every spent an average of $200. Shoppers spent $1.9 billion online on Thanksgiving Day and another $3.3 billion the next day, according to Adobe. In the entire months of November and December in 2015, people spent $626.1 billion.

We are living a world created and shaped by various narratives. Eventually this becomes part of the culture and history. So wrap up your sleeves, and get your pumpkin pie!

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