How Christmas Became Commercialized

Once used as a way to shoo-off the poor and keep children at home, Christmas is now a corporation’s dream come true

Dylan Hughes
3 min readDec 18, 2020


Christmas at the mall
Photo by Ron Dauphin on Unsplash

Christian or not, Christmas is an internationally celebrated holiday. Even parents of no faith give their kids at least some gifts on the holiday. You can’t let your kids go to their friends with nothing to show for the holiday season.

After all, it’s impossible to avoid Christmas. Every single giant corporation in the world is looking to profit from this tradition. How exactly did that become the case, though?

While Christmas has a long-founded history of gift-giving, namely from the Three Wise Men giving gifts to the newly-born Jesus, today’s standard for purchasing began in 19th-century New York.

In “The Battle for Christmas,” historian Stephen Nissenbaum details how Christmas in early America was not a family-centric holiday, but a moment for the country’s lower-class to drunkenly roam the streets, beg for food and drink from elites, and potentially riot if employers failed to give them time off.

This started to change thanks to the Knickerbockers.

While the term “Knickerbocker” may best be known now to represent a rolled-up pair of pants or a basketball team, it…



Dylan Hughes

Three-time author writing on whatever interests me. Follow me on Instagram: chyaboidylan