The magic of holidays and shopping time. How did it start?


Christmas customs have been shaped over the centuries. The one concerning the giving of gifts only became widespread at the end of the 19th century. However, it quickly set in motion a powerful business-trade machine that is getting faster every year.

Christmas in online stores. How did it start?

Before shopping malls, Christmas trees have already been set up, corridors have been filled with stalls of baubles and trinkets, shop windows have been adorned with all kinds of Santas, reindeers, covered with artificial snow and lit up with strings of colorful lights. In trade, the pre-Christmas fever starts earlier and earlier every year. Because although Poles still associate Christmas mainly with a Christmas tree, family gatherings and a common dinner, in other words: tradition, they are increasingly willing to spend more and more on it. According to the latest Deloitte survey, this year we will spend an average of 11 percent more money on preparing for Christmas than last year. And only partly is this a matter of galloping prices. We simply have more temptations and a wider gesture, and traders are increasingly able to arouse appetites and then satisfy them - to our benefit, but also to their own.

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But let's leave the world of commerce for a moment and ask ourselves: how did it all start?

Luther at the Christmas Tree

At first, the date itself. For us, the fact of celebrating holidays at the end of December seems so obvious that it does not need to be explained. Yet... This date has been the subject of disputes and discussions for centuries. Theologians, philosophers and historians pointed out that Christ came into the world in April, then in May, then in November. The currently applicable date was only approved by the Church in the middle of the 4th century. The decision had a purely practical dimension. Namely, on December 25, numerous inhabitants of the Roman Empire celebrated the birth of Mithra, the god of the sun and cosmic order. In principle, Christ was supposed to push Mithra into the shadows. On the other hand, the mighty of the Church wanted the transition from worshipping gods to true faith to be smooth, without shocks and revolutions. Was there a holiday? And there still is! Only a little different.

Christmas quickly began to be celebrated throughout the Christian world, although not everywhere in the same way. There were theologians who argued that the celebration should be approached with dignity and seriousness, because excessive joy could offend the gravity of the day. Interestingly, several centuries later, this attitude was expressed by Martin Luther, according to whom a good Christian should focus on prayer on this day, not on the sumptuously set table. But even Luther had his weaknesses. He loved, for example, family singing around the Christmas tree, decorated with fruits, nuts and animal figurines, although this was a custom with roots dating back to pagan times.

For example, the Romans decorated their houses with green branches as a sign of life's victory over death. And this was also the symbolic charge of the Christian Christmas tree. In Polish lands, it probably appeared only in the 19th century and initially, just like in Germany, it was hung from the ceiling, with the tip down. In the same century, the custom of giving Christmas gifts spread among us. In fact, it was several centuries older, but it was long limited to the royal court and the residences of magnates. On the occasion of the holidays, the mighty could thus reward their courtiers for their faithful service.Then presents became widespread, but... they were far from those given nowadays. Under the Christmas tree, sweets, fruits, nuts usually landed, children could count at most on modest toys. Of course, presents were not brought by parents, relatives, friends, but... and here there were many versions: Gwiazdor, Three Kings, Baby, and even dwarves. However, most often in this context, Saint Nicholas appears, derived from the figure of Bishop Mira, famous for his mercy and good deeds. This clergyman became the hero of numerous legends - for example, that of a poor man who, due to lack of money, could not marry off his daughters. Nicholas was supposed to sneak into his house and throw a handful of gold into the stockings drying over the hearth. Hence the widespread custom in many European countries of placing Christmas gifts in specially prepared stockings.

About Chevrolet and Baleron

Meanwhile, symbolic gifts quickly faded into the past. Cities developed, societies changed, trade drove the boom, aroused aspirations and dreams. Whoever had money wanted to buy something special for their loved ones. As special as Christmas itself. Already at the end of the 19th century, toys specially designed for the holidays began to appear in American department stores. It is said that they sold out in a flash.

The shopping frenzy soon reached Europe as well. Many of the then atmosphere is captured in fragments of press reports and advertisements from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries quoted by the National Institute of Museology and Monument Protection portal. "The Christmas market here is huge, as there is an epidemic of Christmas presents, especially for children - reported from Vienna by the correspondent of the magazine "Ivy" - Regardless of the pedagogical side of things, children receive luxurious and countless gifts, parents and relatives compete in this regard, and it even becomes a custom that children first write down their wishes and present them to their parents. "But adults were also exposed to great temptations. Such a Chevrolet, for example, argued in a Christmas advertisement that its cars were a better gift even than precious jewels. But this was an offer exclusively for customers with the thickest wallets. Less affluent people remained with the branded Swedish vacuum cleaner from Elektrolux. The war destroyed the old world. The new one brought completely different measures of luxury.

Christmas in Poland and the year 1984

In the People's Republic of Poland, oranges delivered from the fraternal Cuba have risen to the rank of a festive symbol. The news of the ships that had just entered Polish waters and were waiting for the quay with their holds full of citrus was an unmistakable sign that the pre-Christmas frenzy was beginning. The following days were full of reports of customers running after items for the Christmas table and presents for their loved ones.

On December 21, 1984, the Television Journal assured that it was not as bad as it might seem, although... the situation was indeed far from ideal. "Customers in public phones, but also now, here, complain that certain goods are no longer in continuous sale. I mean hams, balerons..." - the director of the Centrum Department Stores in Warsaw enlightened the reporter. "Customers really want to buy ham, baleron or pork tenderloin before Christmas, but the production of these articles is limited" - the director bounced the ball back. It was even harder on the outskirts of Warsaw. "They will bring three, four hams, and fifty people, oh!" - one of the customers was in a fever. However, the conclusion of the material gave the viewers some hope. "The fish center has already sold 145 tons of herring, exhaustively depleting its accumulated stocks, but in 70 points live carp is sold without disruption" - the reporter assured.

Today, similar pictures are something of a story from another planet. The only thing that customers may lack is money and time to run through the shopping malls that have multiplied like mushrooms after rain. Here, however, online stores come to the rescue. Because now you can shop without leaving home, and the saved time can be devoted to your loved ones.

Free Carols

As every year, we provide our customers with beautiful Polish carols that can be used in their store and social media. The recordings were made by our company and each of our customers can use them for commercial purposes in any way. There is no need to place a link to our website or add additional information, but if someone adds a few words, we will be pleased.

Find out how to download Christmas carols: Free Christmas carols and banners for the store

Free Christmas photos

If you are looking for free photos with Christmas themes, you can search for them on Unsplash: Free photos with Christmas themes

Set up your SOTESHOP online store for 14 days for free.
Check out the new version of SOTESHOP 8.

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