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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

The secret economics of Christmas adverts, unwrapped

Tradition, like Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriends and parts of downtown Warsaw, is rarely as old as we might prefer. That goes double for Christmas – a Pagan festival, later retooled for God, that became the Western year’s peak of pleasure and indulgence because 19th-century capitalism and civic culture gave it the space to do so.

Britons pioneered this shift. They promoted Christmas as a universal holiday, and legislated for it in the 1830s. (America followed in 1870.) They invented Christmas cards and crackers, pulled new-year gift-giving rituals forward by a week, popularised forgotten carols, created Scrooge as a punishment for dissenters and let these images and commodities circulate through another of their creations: advertising-driven mass media.


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