East vs. West: Where Did Christmas in the U.S. Start? (And Where Is It Headed?)

As with sports and hip-hop rivalries, we enter the holiday week with a good-natured “throwdown” on which coast, and its culture, gets more of the credit for creating Christmas in the U.S. as we have come to know it.

The New York Times starts out by allowing that while “New York can’t quite take credit for Christmas.. apparently, several seemingly timeless holiday traditions were invented here.”

By which they mean, among other things, credit being due to NY-based writers Washington Irving and Clement Clark Moore. The former first wrote about “St. Nicholas,” borrowing from the traditions of Dutch Settlers, in 1809. The latter, of course, famously wrote “An Account of a Visit From St. Nick,” describing the infamous toy distributor as a “right jolly old elf.”

Among other NY traditions, the Times counts “a Santa in Thanksgiving Day Parades (Gimbel’s in 1920; Macy’s in 1924); one of the first public Christmas trees in 1912.”

The San Francisco Chronicle, however, counters by saying “the Golden State popularized the modern Christmas via our entertainment industries, designs it through our toy makers, digitizes it through Silicon Valley, distributes it through our ports and provides beautiful weather in which to celebrate it. Even the quintessential carol “White Christmas” is set in California on Christmas Eve.”

The article continues to underscore California’s contributions to the pop culture side(s) of the holiday, noting that “this year, California’s Christmas present to the rest of the world is the long-awaited resurrection of the ‘Star Wars’ movie franchise, courtesy of those California giants of American storytelling: Disney and Lucasfilm.

“California’s Christmas leadership goes beyond the screen. It’s impossible to imagine Christmas without Mattel, the toy maker incorporated in California after World War II and based in El Segundo (Los Angeles County). Its brands include Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl and Fisher-Price. While Mattel faces financial challenges, other toy makers — from giant Hasbro to smaller firms like Jakks Pacific — have established stronger presences here in recent years, making Southern California Santa’s workshop, or the unofficial capital of toys.”

While we at AVPS are similarly SoCal-based, we won’t lay claim to actually being “Santa’s Workshop,” though we certainly keep jolly by helping you facilitate easier and more secure transactions with your customers!

As for what lays ahead, with “Christmas Future,”  the Pymnts.com website says the only constant for payments, at least, will be change: “Payments (are) no longer only initiated by a plastic card and a swipe at the point of sale in a brick-and-mortar retailer. Now, payments (are) initiated by buy buttons on a merchant’s online checkout pages and a raft of third-party social media sites. Payments (happen) inside of apps on mobile phones and between people and businesses inside of mobile and online banking sites. And, payments (are) happening through any number of connected devices that are creating entirely new businesses and unlocking any number of new commerce opportunities in the process.”

So regardless of where our current Christmas customs came from, they, and we, will keep steadily changing, along with what we buy, how we celebrate, and how we pay for all the trappings we love to share with loved ones.

We’ll have a few more thoughts on where things are headed in our subsequent “early holiday edition” next week, right before New Year rolls around.

Until then, holiday wishes, and lots of light, to you and yours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *