In the mid-80s in the U.S., this was how things worked: Stores had their Christmas decorations and merchandise for sale the day after Thanksgiving. In the late 80s, Christmas-related items started to pop up after Halloween, moving one month ahead before Thanksgiving. Shortly thereafter, in the early 90s, Christmas items ridiculously showed up in July in a major department store in San Francisco, which is not too bad compared to the year-round Christmas-stores in some small towns somewhere in the United States.
Here in Tokyo, on my outing tonight, I saw the first hint of Christmas shopping season. With the temperature dropping steadily in Tokyo, with the light of day diminishing ever so quickly in the late afternoon, and with people donning their scarves and overcoats already, the Isetan department store in Shinjuku 3-chome started to put up their dripping lights, metallic red garlands, and glass balls. Just a few weeks ago, the Halloween decoration was up in several shops and cafés. I have yet to see how October 31 will actually be celebrated here: whether the Tokyoites will actually run around the city, go to work in costumes, or whether any locals (expats excluded) will go trick-or-treating.
My feeling was that in the U.S., holidays were mostly created so that retailers can have a reason for putting things on sale. Somewhere in the lobbying world of the Washington, D.C., there must be some reps from the card industry that tried to get new holidays created so as to generate new greetings cards and boost up sales. In Tokyo, there is already a new kind of day called “the White Day” in response to the Valentine’s Day. You see, VD (yes, that’s Valentine’s Day) in Tokyo is for the women to “give things” to the men; therefore, the White Day was created so that the men could return the favor. There is yet any indication about what happens to children who give their parents something on Valentine’s Day (why children do this to their parents in the first place really confuse the meaning of that day. Wasn’t VD created for lovers or does the term ‘lovers’ have an expanded postmodernist meaning now?)
The original intent of Mother’s Day and Christmas and the likes was to honor the people or the history involved, but really, these days, those holidays concerned more with what to get for whom rather than remembering the spirit of the event. Do I sound like a much repeated broken record out there? Perhaps. I better shut up and do my Xmas shopping now.