Christmas hours are not posted online call your local Kmart (816)454-5270 to check if open,2821 Vivion Rd.NE Kansas City,MO 64119.
Hypermart USA was a demonstrator project operated by Wal-Mart in the 1980s and 1990s, which attempted to combine groceries and general merchandise under one roof at a substantial discount. The hypermart concept was modeled after French retailer Carrefour which had been operating big box stores in France and Brazil. The Texas stores were operated in partnerships with Cullum Companies, former owner of Tom Thumb supermarkets.
All stores used a floorplan that exceeded 220,000 sq. ft. (20,000 m²). They featured a mini-mall, food court, arcade, bank, and other kiosk operations. The ones in Kansas City and Topeka featured McDonald's, Subway, and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in their food courts.
The prototype did not go as well as planned. Wal-Mart was unaccustomed to operating such massive stores, and an economic recession had brought on a decline in retail sales. Although the stores were profitable, sales projections were too optimistic and the company did not anticipate the massive heating and cooling costs, the resistance of customers towards parking and congestion issues.
The first Wal-Mart Supercenter, which used a floorplan in the 125,000 sq ft (11,600 m2) range, was opened in 1988 in Washington, Missouri. As the Supercenter proved to be a much more profitable experiment, Wal-Mart renamed the stores "Wal-Mart's Hypermart USA" in April 1990, and eventually began either converting them to Supercenter operations or closing them.
The Hypermart USA concept was officially discontinued in 2000, when Wal-Mart announced it was converting the Kansas City Hypermart USA into a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The former Kansas City store, then a Supercenter, ultimately closed in January 2007. The original Hypermart in Garland, Texas closed in May 2008, and was replaced by Wal-Mart's first "Hispanic Community" store a few blocks away. The Topeka, Kansas hypermarket, located on Southwest Wannamaker Road, is still open, although its exterior has been remodeled as well as the Arlington, Texas location on S Cooper Street.
Garland, Texas (December 28, 1987)
Poplar Bluff, Missouri (January 1988)
Topeka, Kansas (January 1988)
Arlington, Texas (August 1988)
The Kansas City, Missouri location opened on February 28, 1990. Located in just northeast of Bannister Mall in the Benjamin Plaza development, the South Kansas City store was the last Hypermart USA to open. It was the largest of the four Hypermart stores at 256,637 sq ft. Described as Wal-mart's "mall without walls," the Kansas City Hypermart included a number of restaurants and specialty outlets in addition to the combination grocery and general merchandise discount store.
In May 2000, Wal-Mart announced it would spend $4.9 million to convert the Kansas City Hypermart USA to a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Wal-mart indicated that it was converting it's last remaining Hypermart, because the stores were too big and too inconvenient for customers. Wal-mart explained that the effort offer everything under one roof was more of a European style of retail, and it was overwhelming to the American shopper. Kansas City Councilman Chuck Eddy claimed that there were other reasons for the failure of the Kansas City Hypermart. Eddy cited a high volume of complaints from residents about the store, including time-consuming lines at checkout counters, trash and runaway carts in the parking lot, dirty restrooms, and overall messy conditions and poor management. Wal-mart wanted to build a new Supercenter store in South Kansas City on State Line Road near 135th Street, so city leaders pressured Wal-Mart to make improvements to the conditions of the Hypermart location before they would be given approval to move forward with the new South Kansas City store. At the time, Wal-Mart said it would cost almost $5 million to renovate the 270,000 sq ft (25,000 m2) Hypermart store. Wal-mart moved forward with the renovation and conversion of the Hypermart store, along with bringing in new management to address the concerns of poor management at the store. In 2006, Wal-mart began construction on a new Wal-Mart Supercenter on the site of the former Blue Ridge Mall. The new Supercenter was to be the first of Wal-mart's new "high-efficiency" stores. As a result of the new Supercenters on State Line Road and the former Blue Ridge Mall site, along with declining business and a growing number of retail closings in Bannister Mall and Benjamin Plaza, Wal-mart announced that it would close former Hypermart store in mid-January 2007. The 400 employees were offered jobs at the new Blue Ridge store and other area Wal-Mart stores.
Kmart (sometimes stylized as K-Mart), is an American chain of discount stores headquartered in the United States. The chain purchased Sears in 2005, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corporation. The company was founded in 1962 and is the third largest discount store chain in the world, behind Walmart and Target, with stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam (which houses the world's largest Kmart). As of January 29, 2011, Kmart operated a total of 1,307 (6 closing by early 2011) Kmart stores across 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This store count included 1,278 discount stores, averaging 93,000 sq ft (8,600 m2), and 29 Super Centers, averaging 169,000 sq ft (15,700 m2).
Kmart became known for its "Blue Light Specials." They occurred at surprise moments when a store worker would light up a mobile police light and offer a discount in a specific department of the store. At the height of Kmart's popularity, the phrase "attention Kmart shoppers" also entered into the American pop psyche, appearing in films and other media such as Troop Beverly Hills, Six Days Seven Nights, Rain Man, Beetlejuice, and Dawn of the Dead.
Kmart's world headquarters was located in Troy, Michigan, but since the purchase of Sears, has been relocated to Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Kmart also exists in Australia and New Zealand (see Kmart Australia), although it now has no relation to the American stores except in name, after U.S. equity in the Australian business was purchased in the late 1970s.
Sebastian S. Kresge, the founder of the company that would become Kmart, met variety store pioneer Frank Woolworth while working as a traveling salesman and selling to all nineteen of Woolworth's stores at the time. In 1897 Kresge invested in two five and dime stores with his friend John McCrory; they were the first S.S. Kresge stores. By 1907 Kresge had bought out McCrory. He continued in this for two years, then in 1899 founded his company with Charles J. Wilson with an $8,000 investment in two five-and-ten-cent stores, one in downtown Detroit, Michigan (for which he traded ownership in McCrory's).
In 1912, Kresge incorporated the S.S. Kresge Corporation with eighty-five stores. The company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23, 1918. During World War I, Kresge experimented with raising the limit on prices in his stores to $1. By 1924, Kresge was worth approximately $375,000,000 (in 1924 dollars; around $5,000,000,000 in 2009 dollars) and owned real estate of the approximate value of $100,000,000 (see Farid-Es-Sultaneh v. Commissioner, 160 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1947)). Early century growth remained brisk, with 257 stores in 1924 growing to 597 stores operating in 1929. Kresge retired as president in 1925. The Great Depression reduced profitability and resulted in store closings, with the number reduced to 682 in 1940. Post-war retailing saw many changes in shopping patterns with many customers moving out of the cities into the suburbs. The Kresge company followed them and closed and merged many urban stores so that by 1954 the total number of stores in the US had declined to 616.][
Under the leadership of executive Harry B. Cunningham, S.S. Kresge Corp. opened the first Kmart store on March 1, 1962, in Garden City, Michigan, just four months before the first Walmart opened. This store is still in operation to this day. A total of eighteen Kmart stores opened that year. Kmart Foods, a now defunct chain of Kmart supermarkets, opened in that same decade. Company founder Kresge died on October 18, 1966.
Around the time of the opening of the first Kmart, a number of the poorly performing S.S. Kresge stores were converted to a new "Jupiter Discount Stores" brand, which was conceived as a bare-bones, deep discount outfit. During the 1970s, Kmart put a number of competing retailers out of business. Kresge, Jupiter and Kmart stores had their main competition from other variety chains such as Zayre, Ames, Hill's and those operated by MMG-McCrory Stores (McCrory, McLellan, H.L. Green,J.J. Newberry, S.H. Kress, TG&Y, Silver's and eventually G.C. Murphy Co.). In 1977, S. S. Kresge Corporation changed its name to Kmart Corporation. In 1987, the Kmart Corporation sold its remaining Kresge and Jupiter stores in the United States to McCrory Stores, and the brands were almost entirely discontinued, although Canadian Kresge and Jupiter stores continued to operate until 1994.
Until November 1990, when it was passed by Walmart, Kmart was the second largest retailer in the US, after Sears. During the 1980s, the company's fortunes began to change; many of Kmart's stores were considered to be outdated and in decaying condition. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the corporate office shifted much of its focus from the Kmart stores to other companies it had acquired or created, such as The Sports Authority, Builders Square, and Waldenbooks.
The Sports Authority was acquired by Kmart in 1990 and spun off 5 years later.
In 1990, in an effort to change its image, Kmart introduced a new logo. It dropped the old-style italic "K" with a turquoise "mart" in favor of a red block letter K with the word "mart" written in script and contained inside the K. Kmart then began remodeling stores shortly thereafter, but most were not remodeled until the mid-1990s, and some have not been completely renovated to this day. This logo was replaced in 2004 with the current logo. In the early 1990s, Kmart also tried to reinvent itself by using the short-lived Today's Kmart name.
The company also began to offer exclusive merchandise by Martha Stewart, Kathy Ireland, Jaclyn Smith, Lauren Hutton, and Thalía. Other recognizable brands included Sesame Street and Disney. Rosie O'Donnell and Penny Marshall were among the company's most recognized spokespersons.
Kmart Super Center (Super Kmart) opened a 147,000 sq ft (13,700 m2) location in 1991 in Medina, Ohio, featuring a full-service grocery store and general merchandise. However, this location was downsized in 2011 and was one of a number of Kmarts closed in early 2012. The second ground-up Kmart Super Center opened in Montrose, Ohio, featuring the chain's first full-scale video rental center and a carryout Chinese menu. This location has also closed. Most Kmart Super Centers range in size from 140,000 sq ft (13,000 m2) to 190,000 sq ft (18,000 m2). Current locations feature in-house bakeries, fresh meats and seafood, and a full delicatessen.
Big Kmart opened in Chicago, Illinois, on April 23, 1997. The format focuses on home fashions, children's apparel and consumables (Pantry). Most Kmart stores were remodeled to this format during the 1990s and most of them have been converted back to regular Kmart stores with the new logo introduction.
The original Blue Light Special, first introduced in 1965, was retired in 1991. The company brought back the Blue Light Special in 2001, but again discontinued it in 2002. The concept was briefly revived in 2005, though Kmart at that time had no plans to use the concept long-term.
Blue Light Specials were revived again in 2009 on Saturdays, offering surprise hour-long sales on selected merchandise.
In 1994, Kmart closed 110 stores. Unlike its competitors Walmart and Target, it had failed to invest in computer technology to manage its supply chain. Furthermore, Kmart maintained a high dividend, which reduced the amount of money available for improving its stores. Many business analysts also faulted the corporation for failing to create a coherent brand image.
On January 22, 2002, Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the leadership of its then-chairman Chuck Conaway and president Mark Schwartz. Conaway, who had had success building up the CVS Corporation, had accepted an offer to take the helm at Kmart along with a loan of some $5 million. In a scandal similar to that involving Enron, Conaway and Schwartz were accused of misleading shareholders and other company officials about the company's financial crisis while making millions and allegedly spending the company's money on airplanes, houses, boats and other luxuries. At a conference for Kmart employees January 22, Conaway accepted "full blame" for the financial disaster. As Kmart emerged from bankruptcy, Conaway was forced to step down and was asked to pay back all the loans he had taken.
After dismissing Conaway and Schwartz, Kmart closed more than 300 stores in the United States, including all the Kmart stores in Alaska, and laid off around 34,000 workers as part of the restructuring process. Kmart introduced five prototype stores with a new logo, layout, and lime green and gray color scheme, one in White Lake Township, Michigan, a quasi-rural community near Detroit, Michigan, and four in central Illinois: (Peoria, Pekin, Morton and Washington). The new layout was touted as having wider aisles and improved selection and lighting, and the city or town's name was featured under the new Kmart logo at the front entrance. However, Kmart could not afford a full-scale rollout. The lime green prototype was abandoned for the new Kmart "orange" concept that rolled out at nine test stores throughout the United States.
While the company was in bankruptcy, ESL Investments a hedge fund controlled by Edward Lampert purchased a significant amount of Kmart's outstanding debt. Lampert worked to accelerate the bankruptcy process, and on May 6, 2003 Kmart emerged from bankruptcy protection as Kmart Holdings Corporation. On June 10, 2003, it began trading on the NASDAQ with the ticker symbol KMRT with Lampert as chairman and ESL Investments controlling 53% of the new company. Lampert dismissed concerns that the smaller company would be at a disadvantage stating "The focus that a lot of people have in retail revolves around sales, but sales without profit do not allow a business to be successful in the long term." He began to improve the company's balance sheet by reducing inventory, cutting costs, and closing underperforming stores. By the fourth quarter of 2003, Kmart posted its first profitable quarter in three years, although it has since returned to an operating loss.
On November 17, 2004, Kmart announced its intention to purchase Sears. As a part of the merger, the Kmart Holdings Corporation would change its name to Sears Holdings Corporation. The new corporation announced that it would continue to operate stores under both the Sears and Kmart brands. Around this time, Kmart changed its logo from a red K with the script "mart" inside to a red block letter K with the chain's name in lowercase letters below it. Kmart's headquarters were relocated to Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and the sprawling headquarters complex in Troy, Michigan, was recently acquired by the Forbes Company, which owns the nearby upscale mall, Somerset Collection. No concrete plans for redevelopment of the site have been announced.
In 2005, the company began renovating some Kmart stores and converting them to the Sears Essentials format, only to change them later to Sears Grands.
Kmart started remodeling stores to the "Orange" prototype in 2006. The typical white and blue interior of the stores was changed to orange and brown, and shelf heights were lowered to create better sightlines. The remodeled stores contain an appliance department with Kenmore Appliances and most have hardware departments that sell Craftsman tools, which prior to the merger had been exclusive to Sears stores. Some auto centers left vacant by Penske after Kmart filed for bankruptcy have been converted to Sears Auto Centers. 280 stores as of 2009 have been remodeled to this new prototype. For most of these stores, Kmart retired the "Big Kmart" logo and replaced it with the current logo. In some of the larger stores the old logo is still in use.
In July 2009, Sears Holdings opened its first Sears-branded appliance store inside a Kmart. The 4,000 sq ft (370 m2) store-within-a-store opened inside the former garden department of a Birmingham, Alabama, Kmart. It is two-thirds the size of the appliance department in most Sears stores, but larger than the 2,500 sq ft (230 m2) appliance department in remodeled Kmart stores.
In October 2009, it was reported that Kmart and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia failed to come to a new agreement. This came after Stewart made remarks on CNBC that her line at Kmart had deteriorated, particularly after the Sears merger.
In November 2009, Kmart reported its first year-over-year sales increase of 0.5% since 2005, and only the second such increase since 2001.
On December 27, 2011, after a poor showing from holiday shoppers, Sears Holdings announced that 100 to 120 of Sears/Kmart stores will be closing.
The Kmart Foods logo used during the 1960s
Kmart's original logo used until 1990. This logo was also used by Kmart Australia from 1969 until 1991.
Kmart's red classic logo (1990–2004). It is in use at many older locations.
Kmart's lime green logo that was only used at five prototype locations.
Super Kmart logo used in the early 1990s
Big Kmart logo
Second Super Kmart logo, modeled after the Big Kmart logo
Current Kmart logo, in use since 2004.
The KDollar logo as of November 2012
In May 2007, Sears Holdings Corporation and Kmart named a new mascot and spokesperson for Kmart called Mr. Bluelight. Named after Kmart's well-known "Blue Light Specials", Mr. Bluelight is a talking cartoonish blue light bulb who gives customers ideas to help them make the most of their Kmart experience. Mr. Bluelight has appeared in several television commercials. Specials associated with Mr. Bluelight inside Kmart stores are advertised as "Blue Light Finds" (marked-down merchandise) and "Best of Blue" (higher-end products, often brand-name).
Kmart for Kids is the umbrella program for Kmart's philanthropic initiatives. The program helps children across the country live happier, healthier lives through the support of: March of Dimes, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and American Diabetes Association.
Kmart is March of Dimes' number 1 corporate sponsor, raising over $71 million for stronger, healthier babies.
On July 29, 2008, Don Germano, SVP/GM of Kmart stores, was elected to a five-year term on the national Board of Trustees of the March of Dimes Foundation.
Kmart for Kids supports St. Jude through its annual Thanks and Giving campaign: an opportunity for Kmart customers to give thanks for the healthy kids in their life, and give to those who are not. Kmart has been a partner of the campaign since 2006 and has raised more than $8 million for St. Jude to date.
In 2008, Kmart earned the "Outstanding Corporate Citizen" Award for its support of the American Diabetes Association's "Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes" program. The tribute honors Kmart for the most well-developed, proactive program in the areas of charity, community Development, Diversity, philanthropy, and associate development. In 2008 Kmart became a national sponsor of "Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes" and over the past two years, Kmart's customers and associates have raised approximately $1.5 million through its in-store campaigns.
On May 9, 2007, Kmart was penalized $102,422 for violations of federal hazardous waste, clean water, emergency planning and preparation regulations at 17 distribution centers. Kmart corrected the violations by preparing and implementing spill prevention control and countermeasure plans, applying for appropriate storm water permits, complying with hazardous waste generator requirements, and submitting reports to state and local emergency planning and response organizations informing them of the presence of hazardous substances. The Environmental Protection Agency also accused Kmart of not maintaining adequate information and failing to act in accordance with hazardous waste storage and disposal requirements. For instance, the EPA reported having discovered improperly labeled oil storage drums at a location in Falls, Pennsylvania.
Out of concern for the environment, Kmart promoted battery recycling. Kmart even proposed spending about $80 million on full-page newspaper advertisements offering to recycle junk batteries for $2 each.
In 2012, Kmart and Sears began allowing customers who are members of their Shop Your Way Rewards program to receive receipts by e-mail, eliminating paper waste and cutting down on the usage of ink.
In 2012, Mercy for Animals, a non-profit organization working against cruelty to farmed animals, conducted an infiltration at Christensen Farms, a pork supplier to Kmart, Walmart, and Costco, obtaining hidden-camera footage of pigs confined in small gestation crates and cruelty to piglets. In response to Mercy For Animals' infiltration, Kmart announced it would begin requiring its pork suppliers to phase out gestation crates.
In 1999 Kmart began offering a dial-up internet service called BlueLight, which was eventually spun off as an independent company. BlueLight was initially free and supported by banner ads. BlueLight dropped the free service in February 2001 and was reacquired by Kmart in July 2001. In 2002 United Online, which also owns NetZero and Juno, bought the BlueLight service after Kmart filed for bankruptcy. In August 2006, Bluelight dropped the banners. As of August 2006, the service costs $14.95 a month and has around 165,000 subscribers.
Kmart was a prominent sponsor in NASCAR and the now defunct CART series. They were a longtime sponsor of Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor Paul Newman and former racer Carl Haas. Their CART drivers included Nigel Mansell and the father-son duo of Michael and Mario Andretti. Mansell and Michael Andretti won championships under Kmart sponsorship, in 1991 and 1993, respectively. The store also sponsored the NASCAR-sanctioned Kmart 400 at Michigan and North Carolina Speedway. Lake Speed garnered Kmart's first win in NASCAR in 1988 at the Darlington Raceway. Most recently, in NASCAR, the store sponsored Boris Said's #60 No Fear Ford Fusion in 2006.
Kmart was also once a major presence in Canada, with its first Kresge store opening in 1929. Kmart closed 5 Montreal stores and several other Quebec stores in 1983 due to the company restructuring. However, as a result of Kmart's ongoing financial difficulties, the Canadian division comprising 112 stores was sold to competitor Zellers of the Hudson's Bay Company in May 1998, after which the stores were either closed or converted to Hudson's Bay Company brands, mostly Zellers. A store in Saint-Laurent, Quebec (now Montreal) became a Canadian Tire instead because of the mall that used to house Kmart already having a Zellers.
Like Target stores, Kmart-branded stores in Australia belonged to Coles Myer before being acquired by Wesfarmers in 2007, which also holds the rights to the Kmart brand in New Zealand.
In 1992, Kmart purchased several communist-era department stores in Eastern Europe, including 13 in the former Czechoslovakia that were bought from the former Czechoslovak government. One of those stores was the old MAJ department store on Národní Třída in Prague. Many of these outlets were quite profitable, with the Bratislava location setting a single store sales record for the company. But Kmart's larger troubles in the United States caught up with its European operations later in the decade. In March 1996, The Kmart Corporation announced that it had agreed to sell the six Kmart stores in the Czech Republic and the seven in Slovakia to Tesco P.L.C. of Britain for about $117.5 million, to focus on its core operations in North America.
Also in the 1990s, Kmart opened four stores in Mexico, in partnership with the Mexican retailer Liverpool. All were supercenters, and the locations were all suburbs of Mexico City. About half of the store area was devoted to groceries, and this part of the stores resembled those in the US with some adjustments to the local market.
Coles Supermarkets is an Australian supermarket chain owned by Wesfarmers. It has 741 stores nationally, including 45 BI-LO Supermarkets that also stock Coles private label brands, and more than 100,000 employees. Along with Woolworths, Coles form a duopoly of Australian supermarkets, together accounting for about 80% of the Australian market.
Coles was founded by George James (G.J.) Coles when what was called the "Coles Variety Store" opened on 9 April 1914 in Smith Street in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. Expansion to more stores occurred and the chain was regarded as leaders in providing value to Australian shoppers (G. J. Coles learned the retail trade working for his father's "Coles Store" business at Wilmot, Tasmania between 1910 and 1913). Coles' interest in food retailing was spurred in 1958 when it acquired 54 John Connell Dickins grocery stores. It then acquired the Beilby's chain in South Australia in 1959 and 265 Matthews Thompson grocery stores in New South Wales in 1960.
In 1960, the first supermarket was opened in the Melbourne suburb Balwyn North, at the corner of Burke and Doncaster Roads where a modernised version continues to operate. By 1973, Coles had established stores in all Australian capital cities. From 1962, its supermarkets were branded Coles New World with accompanying rocket imagery. In 1991, the stores were rebranded Coles Supermarkets and from 1998, simply as Coles.
From mid 2006, many BI-LO supermarkets were badged as Coles Supermarkets. Newmart supermarkets, under which BI-LO traded in Western Australia, were badged as Coles Supermarkets in 2002-2003. Newmart stores co-located with Coles in the same area or shopping centre were sold to Foodland and re branded as the now-defunct Action Supermarkets chain. The conversion program was put on hold at Easter 2007. On 2 July 2007, Western Australian based company Wesfarmers agreed to purchase Coles Group Limited for A$22 billion. The purchase was completed in early 2008.
In August 2007, as Wesfarmers foreshadowed its plans for the restructuring of Coles Group following its anticipated takeover, it stated that one of three planned divisions would comprise supermarkets, liquor and convenience stores.
In February 2008, Wesfarmers appointed UK retailer Ian McLeod as managing director of Coles Supermarkets plus liquor, fuel and convenience businesses. McLeod's previously headed UK car parts and cycle retailer Halfords and gained supermarket experience with Asda and Wal-Mart. In 2008, the I Test For Coles Panel (or Coles Mums' Panel) began, with 2,500 panelists testing Coles brand products in their home and providing general feedback about Coles.
In February 2011, Coles acquired National Australia Bank's 50 per cent interest in Australia's largest loyalty program FlyBuys, giving it 100% ownership. In September 2011, Coles commenced stocking private label clothing in their stores with several stores receiving refits to accommodate the range.
Coles has also been accused by suppliers of using heavy-handed tactics when dealing with its suppliers. An investigation in 2004 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission did not result in any action being brought against Coles and Woolworths. A 2012 investigation where suppliers were offered anonymity is believed to have uncovered unethical practices. In 2013, the ACCC was investigating both Coles and Woolworths over accusations that they used improper market practices to force down prices from suppliers.
Coles signed a controversial ten-year agreement in early April 2013 with the Murray Goulburn dairy co-operative, whereby farmers will supply 200 million litres of milk annually for the supermarket chain's private label milk brands in return for premium prices. The co-operative announced that it would invest AU$120 million to construct two new dairy processing plants in New South Wales and Victoria to fulfil the deal. Coles seeks to receive a 10 per cent discount on the cost associated with its former milk supplier Lion.
Despite Coles refuting allegations of bullying behaviour, in May 2013 CEO Ian McLeod accused multinational manufacturers of making excess profits in Australia, arguing that equivalent pack sizes of Coke, toothpaste and other consumer products could be purchased in Asia for up to 60% lower than in Australia. Despite making excess profit, McLeod also argues that Australian manufacturers are inefficient. McLeod provided no evidence for either claim except a simple comparison of shelf prices.
Coles original slogan was "nothing over 2/6", when it was primarily operating variety stores. The slogan "You'll find the best value is at Coles New World" was used in the 1980s. The red/orange orb was used from 1991 to 2005. "Serving you better" was used as a slogan from 1998 to 2003, replaced by "save everyday", endorsed by actress Lisa McCune. A circled tick was used as a logo device from 2003 to 2007, replacing the orb as a primary device in 2005.][ "Save everyday" was later changed to the grammatically-correct "save every day".][
In 2007, that slogan and circle tick were discontinued with simply the Coles name used in preparation for a new red ball logo to match proposed Coles Group livery, which was shelved later in the year as the business was sold. A number of tag lines were employed in the next few years: "Something better every day", "Proudly Australian since 1914" (introduced with its TV sponsorship of the 2008 Summer Olympics), "Cutting the cost of your shopping" and "It all counts". Its current slogan is "Quality food costs less at Coles".
In the 1960s, Coles sponsored a general knowledge quiz show, Coles £3000 Question (later Coles $6000 Question and Coles $7000 Question) which aired on Channel 7.
In 2010, Coles launched a new sub-slogan, "Down Down, Prices Are Down", featuring a large red cartoon hand pointing downwards to symbolise the chain's low price policy. The slogan incorporates the tune of "Down Down", a 1975 hit by British rockers Status Quo. In 2011, the campaign was revised to the fit the tune of Petula Clark's 1964 hit "Downtown". but reverted to "Down Down" later in the year. In 2012, it used Status Quo, which originally recorded the song in 1975, singing and speaking in the newest ad in the series.
In 2012, Coles released another sub-slogan, "There's No Freshness Like Coles Freshness", to complement the freshness of their fruits and vegetables. In response to the price cuts that were central to the 2012 campaign, rival supermarket corporation Woolworths accused Coles of misleading consumers due to a claim that the discounts were not new and are part of the daily business of supermarkets. Woolworths chief executive Grant O'Brien explained, "It's a promotion that happens every day of the week in retail land. To say it's a huge reduction and a market changing or game changing is in a way to mislead."
Coles has five levels of generic or private label brands.
A discount store is a type of department store, which sells products at prices lower than those asked by traditional retail outlets. Most discount department stores offer a wide assortment of goods; others specialize in such merchandise as jewelry, electronic equipment, or electrical appliances. Discount stores are not variety stores, which sell goods at a single price-point or multiples thereof (£1, $2, etc.). Discount stores differ from variety stores in that they sell many name-brand products, and because of the wide price range of the items offered. Following World War II, a number of retail establishments in the U.S. began to pursue a high-volume, low-profit-margin strategy designed to attract price-conscious consumers.][This strategy has received renewed interest from retailers and customers alike stemming from the Great Recession that began in 2009 that forced buyers to revisit the approach to the products they wanted.
Currently Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, operates more than 1,300 discount stores in the U.S. Target and Kmart are Wal-Mart's top competitors. Wal-Mart as of 2004, owns 90% of the Asda chain of supermarkets in the UK. As of 2008, the main rival to Asda is Tesco.
During the period from the 1950s to the late 1980s, discount stores were more popular than the average supermarket or department store in the United States. There were hundreds of discount stores in operation, with their most successful period occurring during the mid-1960s in the U.S. with discount store chains such as Kmart, Ames, E. J. Korvette, Fisher's Big Wheel, Zayre, Bradlees, Caldor, Jamesway Howard Brothers Discount Stores, Kuhn's-Big K (sold to Walmart in 1981), TG&Y and Woolco (closed in 1983, part sold to Wal-Mart) among others.
Walmart, Kmart, and Target all opened their first locations in 1962. Other retail companies branched out into the discount store business around that time as adjuncts to their older store concepts. As examples, Woolworth opened a Woolco chain (also in 1962); Montgomery Ward opened Jefferson Ward; Chicago-based Jewel launched Turn Style; and Central Indiana-based L. S. Ayres created Ayr-Way. J. C. Penney opened discount stores called Treasure Island or The Treasury, and Atlanta-based Rich's owned discount stores called Richway. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, these chains typically were either shut down or sold to a larger competitor. Kmart and Target themselves are examples of adjuncts, although their growth prompted their respective parent companies to abandon their older concepts (the S. S. Kresge five and dime store disappeared, while the Dayton-Hudson Corporation eventually divested itself of its department store holdings and renamed itself Target Corporation).][
In the United States, discount stores had 42% of overall retail market share in 1987; in 2010, they had 87%.
Many of the major discounters now operate "supercenters", which add a full-service grocery store to the traditional format. The Meijer chain in the Midwest consists entirely of supercenters, while Wal-Mart and Target have focused on the format as of the 1990s as a key to their continued growth. Although discount stores and department stores have different retailing goals and different markets, a recent development in retailing is the "discount department store", such as Sears Essentials, which is a combination of the Kmart and Sears formats, following the companies' merger as Sears Holdings Corporation.
Japan has numerous discount stores, including Costco.
The most important discount stores in Germany are Aldi and Lidl.
Discount stores cover about 20% of food sales in Poland. Main retailers:
Nelson, Walter Henry, The Great Discount Delusion, New York: D. McKay, 1965.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, or pine or fir, traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. An artificial Christmas tree is an object made to resemble such a tree, usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th century, in which "devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes". It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century. The Christmas tree has also been known as the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.
While it is clear that the modern Christmas tree originates in Renaissance and early modern Germany, there are a number of speculative theories as to its ultimate origin. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who, according to the TV channel History, "first added lighted candles to a tree."
It is frequently traced to the symbolism of evergreen trees in pre-Christian winter rites, especially with the story of Donar's Oak and Saint Boniface.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."
Alternatively, it is identified with the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.
Customs of erecting decorated trees in wintertime can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era guilds in Northern Germany and Livonia. The first evidence of decorated trees associated with Christmas Day are trees in guildhalls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. In Livonia (present-day Latvia and Estonia), in 1441, 1442, 1510 and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays in their guild houses in Riga and Reval (now Tallinn). On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square where the members of the brotherhood danced around it. A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers" was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day. In 1584, the pastor and chronicler Balthasar Russow in his (1584) wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated spruce at the market square where the young men "went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame".
After the Protestant Reformation, such trees are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. This transition from the guild hall to the bourgeois family homes in the Protestant parts of Germany ultimately gives rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in towns of the upper Rhineland, but it had not yet spread to rural areas. Wax candles, expensive items at the time, are found in attestations from the late 18th century.
Along the lower Rhine, an area of Roman Catholic majority, the Christmas tree was largely regarded as a Protestant custom. As a result, it remained confined to the upper Rhineland for a relatively long period of time. The custom did eventually gain wider acceptance, beginning around 1815, by way of Prussian officials who emigrated there following the Congress of Vienna.
In the 19th century, the Christmas tree was taken to be an expression of German culture and of , especially among emigrants overseas.
A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the Franco-Prussian War. Only at the start of the 20th century did Christmas trees appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.
In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816, and the custom spread across Austria in the following years. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In Denmark a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. It was the aging countess who told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1865. He had published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.
In Britain, during the time of the personal union with Hanover, George III's German-born queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800; but the custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family. Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with the custom and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote, "After dinner... we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room... There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees..." After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread throughout Britain. In 1842 a newspaper advert for Christmas trees makes clear their fashionable cachet, German origins and association with children and gift-giving. An illustrated book, The Christmas Tree, describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844. In 1847, Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be". In 1848 The Illustrated London News, in a report picked up by other papers, described the trees in Windsor Castle in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them, as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman in Somerset, whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree. They had not yet spread down the social scale however, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic".
The tradition was introduced to Canada in the winter of 1781 by Brunswick soldiers stationed in the Province of Quebec to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party at Sorel, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits.
A woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene. The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree". Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.
Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree: Windsor Locks, Connecticut, claims that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree in 1777 while imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House, while the "First Christmas Tree in America" is also claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, where German settlers purportedly erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recorded the use of a Christmas tree in 1821, leading Lancaster to also lay claim to the first Christmas tree in America. Other accounts credit Charles Follen, a German immigrant to Boston, for being the first to introduce to America the custom of decorating a Christmas tree. August Imgard, a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio, is the first to popularise the practice of decorating a tree with candy canes. In 1847, Imgard cut a blue spruce tree from a woods outside town, had the Wooster village tinsmith construct a star, and placed the tree in his house, decorating it with paper ornaments and candy canes. German immigrant Charles Minnegerode accepted a position as a professor of humanities at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842, where he taught Latin and Greek. Entering into the social life of the Virginia Tidewater, Minnigerode introduced the German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas at the home of law professor St. George Tucker, thereby becoming another of many influences that prompted Americans to adopt the practice at about that time.
The lyrics sung in the United States to the German tune begin "O Christmas tree", giving rise to the mistaken idea that the German word (fir tree) means "Christmas tree", the German word for which is instead .
In Russia, the Christmas tree was banned shortly after the October Revolution but then reinstated as a New-year spruce () in 1935. It became a fully secular icon of the New Year holiday, for example, the crowning star was regarded not as a symbol of Bethlehem Star, but as the Red Star. Decorations, such as figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, cosmonauts, and characters of Russian fairy tales, were produced. This tradition persists after the fall of the USSR, with the New Year holiday outweighing the Christmas (7 January) for a wide majority of Russian people.
The TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was influential on the pop culture surrounding the Christmas tree. Aluminum Christmas trees were popular during the early 1960s in the US. They were satirized in the Charlie Brown show and came to be seen as symbolizing the commercialization of Christmas. The term Charlie Brown Christmas tree, describing any poor-looking or malformed little tree, also derives from the 1965 TV special, based on the appearance of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.][
An Italian American family on Christmas 1924
An unsheared Christmas tree from 1951, in a home in New York State.
A Soviet-era (1960s) New Year tree decoration depicting a cosmonaut
A makeshift cardboard Christmas tree in Kabul, Afghanistan (2010)
A "globalized" Christmas tree in a Hong Kong mall (Kelly Chen 2010)
Since the early 20th century, it has become common in many cities, towns, and department stores to put up public Christmas trees outdoors, such as the Macy's Great Tree in Atlanta (since 1948), the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City, and the large Christmas tree at Victoria Square in Adelaide.
The United States' National Christmas Tree has been lit each year since 1923 on the South Lawn of the White House. Today,][ the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is part of what has become a major holiday event at the White House. President Jimmy Carter lit only the crowning star atop the tree in 1979 in honour of the Americans being held hostage in Iran. The same was true in 1980, except that the tree was fully lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been in captivity.
During most of the 1970s and 1980s, the largest decorated Christmas tree in the world was put up every year on the property of the National Enquirer in Lantana, Florida. This tradition grew into one of the most spectacular and celebrated events in the history of southern Florida, but was discontinued on the death of the paper's founder in the late 1980s.
In some cities, a Festival of Trees is organized around the decoration and display of multiple trees as charity events. In some cases the trees represent special commemorative gifts, such as in Trafalgar Square in London, where the City of Oslo, Norway presents a tree to the people of London as a token of appreciation for the British support of Norwegian resistance during the Second World War; in Boston, where the tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia, in thanks for rapid deployment of supplies and rescuers to the 1917 ammunition ship explosion that levelled the city of Halifax; and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the main civic Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, in thanks for the part played by soldiers from Newcastle in liberating Bergen from Nazi occupation. Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship between Norway and the US and as an expression of gratitude from Norway for the help received from the US during World War II.
View of the Christmas tree in Madison Square Park in New York City (circa 1910)
An early example of a public (outdoor) Christmas tree in Europe; public Christmas celebration for the unemployed in Prague, First Czechoslovak Republic, in 1931 (German Federal Archives)
Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (1987)
Poinsettia flowers arranged into the conical shape of a "Christmas tree", topped with a "Star of Bethlehem", in San Diego (2005)
The monumental at the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon (2006), at 75 metres the tallest Christmas tree in Europe.
Christmas tree in Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City in 2007
An in Madrid (2011)
Christmas Lights near Kryvyi Rih City Hall, Ukraine, 2011
Both setting up and taking down a Christmas tree are associated with specific dates. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve (24 December)][ or, in the traditions celebrating Christmas Eve rather than on the first of day of Christmas, 23 December, and then removed the day after Twelfth Night (5 January); to have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck.][
In many areas, it has become customary to set up one's Christmas tree at the beginning of the Advent season. Some families in the U.S. and Canada will put up a Christmas tree soon after American Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), and Christmas decorations can show up even earlier in retail stores, often the day after Halloween (31 October). Some households do not put up the tree until the second week of December, and leave it up until 6 January (Epiphany). In Germany, traditionally the tree is put up on 24 December and taken down on 7 January, though many start one or two weeks earlier, and in Roman Catholic homes the tree may be kept until February 2 (Candlemas).][
In Italy and Argentina, along with many countries in Latin America, the Christmas tree is put up on 8 December (Immaculate Conception day) and left up until 6 January. In Australia, the Christmas tree is usually put up on 1 December,][ which occurs about a week before the school summer holidays; except for South Australia, where most people put up their tree after the Adelaide Christmas Pageant in late November.][ Some traditions suggest that Christmas trees may be kept up until no later than 2 February, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas), when the Christmas season effectively closes. Superstitions say that it is a bad sign if Christmas greenery is not removed by Candlemas Eve.
Tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree. Silvered saran-based tinsel was introduced later. Delicate mold-blown and painted colored glass Christmas ornaments were a speciality of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Baubles are another common decoration, consisting of small hollow glass or plastic spheres coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide coloration. Lighting with electric lights (fairy lights) is commonly done. A tree topper, traditionally either an angel or a star, completes the ensemble.
Individuals' decorations typically include a mix of family traditions and personal tastes; even a small unattractive ornament, if passed down from a parent or grandparent, may come to carry considerable emotional value and be given a place of pride on the tree. Conversely, trees decorated by professional designers for department stores and other institutions will usually have a "theme"; a set of predominant colours, multiple instances of each type of ornament, and larger decorations that may be more complicated to set up correctly. Some churches decorate with Chrismon trees, which use handmade ornaments depicting various Chrismon symbols.
Many people also decorate outdoor trees with food that birds and other wildlife will enjoy, such as garlands made from unsalted popcorn or cranberries, orange halves, and seed-covered suet cakes.
Because candles were used to light trees until electric bulbs came about, a mat (UK) or skirt (US) was often placed on the floor below the tree to protect it by catching the dripping candle wax, and also to collect any needles that fell. Even when dripless candles, electric lights and artificial trees have been used, a skirt is still usually used as a decorative feature: among other things, it hides the Christmas tree stand, which may be unsightly but which is an important safety feature of home trees.][ What began as ordinary cloth has now often become much more ornate, some having embroidery or being put together like a quilt.
A nativity scene, model train, or Christmas village may be placed on the mat or skirt. As Christmas presents arrive, they are generally placed underneath the tree on the tree skirt (depending on tradition, all Christmas gifts, or those too large to be hung on the tree, as in "presents on the tree" of the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas").
Generally, the difference between a mat and skirt is simply that a mat is placed under the Christmas tree stand, while a skirt is placed over it, having a hole in the middle for the trunk, with a slot cut to the outside edge so that it can be placed around the tree (beneath the branches) easily. A plain mat of fabric or plastic may also be placed under the stand and skirt to protect the floor from scratches or water.
A Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree. Christmas tree stands appeared as early as 1876 and have had various designs over the years. Those stands designed for natural trees have a water reservoir to hydrate the live tree. Artificial Christmas trees usually have a plastic or metal stand, with three legs shaping like a Y.
In the 1940s and 1950s flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow. Typically it would be sprayed all over the tree from the sides, which produced a look different from real snow, which settles in clumps atop branches. Flocking can be done with a professional sprayer at a tree lot (or an artificial tree's manufacturer), or at home from a spray can. This tradition seems to be most popular on the west coast and southern parts of the United States. Because flock contains flame retardants, a flocked tree can be placed in a public building in accordance with local fire safety codes.
In the late 1800s and, most probably, long before, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. This family tradition eliminated killing and care of a live tree and needle drop in the house while providing a beautiful way of displaying ornaments. After Christmas, the cotton batting was unwrapped and stored with the Christmas presents and the branches were burnt or discarded. It is thought these home-made white trees at least, in part, inspired flocking popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s.
Each year, 33 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced in America, and 50 to 60 million are produced in Europe. In 1998, there were about 15,000 growers in America (a third of them "choose and cut" farms). In that same year, it was estimated that Americans spent $1.5 billion on Christmas trees.
The most commonly used species are fir (Abies), which have the benefit of not shedding their needles when they dry out, as well as retaining good foliage colour and scent; but species in other genera are also used.
In northern Europe most commonly used are:
In North America, Central America and South America most commonly used are:
Several other species are used to a lesser extent. Less-traditional conifers are sometimes used, such as Giant Sequoia, Leyland Cypress, Monterey Cypress and Eastern Juniper. Various types of spruce tree are also used for Christmas trees (including the Blue Spruce and, less commonly, the White Spruce); but spruces (unlike firs) begin to lose their needles rapidly upon being cut, and spruce needles are often sharp, making decorating uncomfortable. Virginia Pine is still available on some tree farms in the southeastern United States, however its winter colour is faded. The long-needled Eastern White Pine is also used there, though it is an unpopular Christmas tree in most parts of the country, owing also to its faded winter coloration and limp branches, making decorating difficult with all but the lightest ornaments. Norfolk Island Pine is sometimes used, particularly in Oceania, and in Australia, some species of the genera Casuarina and Allocasuarina are also occasionally used as Christmas trees. But, by far, the most common tree is the Monterey Pine. Adenanthos sericeus or Albany Woolly Bush is commonly sold in southern Australia as a potted living Christmas tree. Hemlock species are generally considered unsuitable as Christmas trees due to their poor needle retention and inability to support the weight of lights and ornaments.
Some trees, frequently referred to as "living Christmas trees", are sold live with roots and soil, often from a plant nursery, to be stored at nurseries in planters or planted later outdoors and enjoyed (and often decorated) for years or decades. Others are produced in a container and sometimes as topiary for a porch or patio. However, when done improperly, the combination of root loss caused by digging, and the indoor environment of high temperature and low humidity is very detrimental to the tree's health; additionally, the warmth of an indoor climate will bring the tree out of its natural winter dormancy, leaving it little protection when put back outside into a cold outdoor climate. Often Christmas trees are a large attraction for living animals, including mice and spiders. Thus, the survival rate of these trees is low. However when done properly, replanting provides higher survival rates.
European tradition prefers the open aspect of naturally grown, unsheared trees, while in North America (outside western areas where trees are often wild-harvested on public lands) there is a preference for close-sheared trees with denser foliage, but less space to hang decorations.
In the past, Christmas trees were often harvested from wild forests, but now almost all are commercially grown on tree farms. Almost all Christmas trees in the United States are grown on Christmas tree farms where they are cut after about ten years of growth and new trees planted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's agriculture census for 2007, 21,537 farms were producing conifers for the cut Christmas tree market in America, 5,717.09 square kilometres (1,412,724 acres) were planted in Christmas trees.
The life cycle of a Christmas tree from the seed to a 2-metre (7 ft) tree takes, depending on species and treatment in cultivation, between 8 and 12 years. First, the seed is extracted from cones harvested from older trees. These seeds are then usually grown in nurseries and then sold to Christmas tree farms at an age of 3–4 years. The remaining development of the tree greatly depends on the climate, soil quality, as well as the cultivation and how the trees are tended by the Christmas tree farmer.
The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, though earlier examples exist. These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green. The German feather trees were one response by Germans to continued deforestation in Germany. Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small 2-inch (51 mm) tree to a large 98-inch (2,500 mm) tree sold in department stores during the 1920s. Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candle holders.
Over the years, other styles of artificial Christmas trees have evolved and become popular. In 1930, the U.S.-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. Another type of artificial tree is the aluminum Christmas tree. The trees were manufactured in the United States, first in Chicago in 1958, and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where the majority of the trees were produced. Most modern artificial Christmas trees are made from plastic recycled from used packaging materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other plastics. Approximately 10% of artificial Christmas trees are using virgin suspension PVC resin; despite being plastic most artificial trees are not recyclable or biodegradable.
Other gimmicks have developed as well. Optical fiber Christmas trees come in two major varieties; one resembles a traditional Christmas tree. One Dallas-based company offers "holographic mylar" trees in many hues. Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard, glass, ceramic or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations. Upside-down artificial Christmas trees became popular for a short time and were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick; they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores and opened up floor space for more products.
Artificial trees became increasingly popular during the late 20th century. Users of artificial Christmas trees assert that they are more convenient, and, because they are reusable, much cheaper than their natural alternative. They are also considered much safer as natural trees can be a significant fire hazard. Between 2001 and 2007 artificial Christmas tree sales in the U.S. jumped from 7.3 million to 17.4 million.
The debate about the environmental impact of artificial trees is ongoing. Generally, natural tree growers contend that artificial trees are more environmentally harmful than their natural counterparts. However, trade groups such as the American Christmas Tree Association, continue to refute that artificial trees are more harmful to the environment, and maintain that the PVC used in Christmas trees has excellent recyclable properties.
Live trees are typically grown as a crop and replanted in rotation after cutting, often providing suitable habitat for wildlife.][ In some cases management of Christmas tree crops can result in poor habitat since it sometimes involves heavy input of pesticides.][ Concerns have been raised about people cutting down old and rare conifers, such as the Keteleeria evelyniana, for Christmas trees. Real or cut trees are used only for a short time, but can be recycled and used as mulch or used to prevent erosion. Real trees are carbon-neutral, they emit no more carbon dioxide by being cut down and disposed of than they absorb while growing. An independent life-cycle assessment study, conducted by a firm of experts in sustainable development, states that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) of greenhouse gases every year (based on purchasing 5 km (3.1 miles) from home) whereas the artificial tree will produce 48.3 kg (106 lb) over its lifetime. Some people use living Christmas or potted trees for several seasons, providing a longer life cycle for each tree. Living Christmas trees can be purchased or rented from local market growers. Rentals are picked up after the holidays, while purchased trees can be planted by the owner after use or donated to local tree adoption or urban reforestation services.
Most artificial trees are made of recycled PVC rigid sheets using tin stabilizer in the recent years. In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but is now banned by Chinese laws.][ The use of lead stabilizer in Chinese imported trees has been an issue of concern among politicians and scientists over recent years. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children exist. A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade. The report determined that of the 50 million artificial trees in the United States approximately 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached. A professional study on the life-cycle assessment of both real and artificial Christmas trees revealed that one must use an artificial Christmas tree at least during 20 years to leave an environmental footprint as small as the natural Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree's origins are uncertain, but it is associated with the celebration of the Christmas holidays, so there has been some amount of debate as to whether it should be considered a secular or a religious custom.][
Pope John Paul II introduced the Christmas tree custom to the Vatican in 1982. Although at first disapproved of by some as out of place at the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Christmas Tree has become an integral part of the Vatican Christmas celebrations, and in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI spoke of it as part of the normal Christmas decorations in Catholic homes. In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the "tree of life" of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. In the previous year he said: "Beside the crib, the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas." The Catholic Church's official Book of Blessings has a service for the blessing of the Christmas tree in a home.
In 2006, the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport removed all of its Christmas trees in the middle of the night rather than allow a rabbi to put up a menorah near the largest tree display. Officials feared that one display would open the door for other religious displays, and, in 2007, they opted to display a grove of birches in polyethylene terephthalate snow rather than religious symbols or Christmas trees. In 2005, the city of Boston renamed the spruce tree used to decorate the Boston Common a "Holiday Tree" rather than a "Christmas Tree". The name change drew a poor response from the public and it was reversed after the city was threatened with several lawsuits.
Chrismon trees are a varition developed by in 1957 as a specifically religious version appropriate for a church's Christmas celebrations. They are typically decorated with items made from recycled materials.
Christmas (Old English: , meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown. His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice); a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical verse identifying Jesus as the "Sun of righteousness".
The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2013, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6, which on the Gregorian calendar translate as January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7. Eastern Orthodox Churches in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland, and the Orthodox Church in America celebrate Christmas on December 25 in the revised Julian calendar, corresponding to December 25 also in the Gregorian calendar.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
"Christmas" is a compound word originating in the term "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "Messiah"; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form "Christenmas" was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally "Christian mass". "Xmas" is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), "Christ", though numerous style guides discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where "Χρ̄" is an abbreviation for Χριστός).
In addition to "Christmas", the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as "midwinter", or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below). "Nativity", meaning "birth", is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola ("Yule") referred to the period corresponding to January and December; the cognate Old Norse Jól was later the name of a pagan Scandinavian holiday which merged with Christmas around 1000. "Noel" (or "Nowell") entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs), "(day) of birth".
Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations, and Christmas trees.
Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Comoros, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.
Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance. In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth. Depending on one's perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.
According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary "wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (KJV); and "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.
Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families' major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.
The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be "decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green". The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.
Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children. In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom.
The traditional colors of Christmas are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter, and gold is the first color associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Magi, symbolizing royalty.
The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship; according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity. The English language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.
From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.
Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.
Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.
Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5.
The earliest extant specifically Christmas hymns appear in 4th-century Rome. Latin hymns such as "Veni redemptor gentium", written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. "Corde natus ex Parentis" ("Of the Father's love begotten") by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas "Sequence" or "Prose" was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.
By the 13th century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Asissi, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five "caroles of Cristemas", probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.
The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as "harvest tide" as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like "Personent hodie", "Good King Wenceslas", and "The Holly and the Ivy" can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. "Adeste Fideles" (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century.
Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, although some Reformers, like Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. The 18th-century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies, which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States, he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was originally entitled "Hark! How All the Welkin Rings", later renamed "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".
Felix Mendelssohn wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley's words. In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed "Silent Night" for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf. William Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival.
Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. "Deck The Halls" dates from 1784, and the American "Jingle Bells" was copyrighted in 1857. In the 19th and 20th century, African American spirituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of spirituals, became more widely known. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century, including jazz and blues variations. In addition, there was a revival of interest in early music, from groups singing folk music, such as The Revels, to performers of early medieval and classical music.
A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In the United Kingdom and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies, and fruit cake.
In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Germany, France, and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham, and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.
Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads "wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", much like that of the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging E-cards.
Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities, and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season. The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus, or Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem, or a white dove which can represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth. Other Christmas cards are more secular and can depict Christmas traditions, mythical figures such as Santa Claus, objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles, holly and baubles, or a variety of images associated with the season, such as Christmastide activities, snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in idealized 19th century streetscapes.
Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer, or Biblical verse; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive "Season's greetings".
A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastide. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards, and they are popular with philatelists. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.
In 1898 a Canadian stamp was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The stamp features a map of the globe and bears an inscription "XMAS 1898" at the bottom. In 1937, Austria issued two "Christmas greeting stamps" featuring a rose and the signs of the zodiac. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star of Bethlehem, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child.
Both the US Postal Service and the Royal Mail regularly issue Christmas-themed stamps each year.
The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making it the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs. On Christmas, people exchange gifts based on the tradition associated with St. Nicholas, and the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were given to the baby Jesus by the Magi.
A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.
The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.
Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.
In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops' robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire. Nast drew a new image of "Santa Claus" annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s and continues through the present day: indeed, some have made a career out of portraying Santa Claus, particularly if they are slightly overweight middle aged men with beards and a jolly disposition.
Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.
There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence. Moreover, a study of the "children's books, periodicals and journals" of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. However, not all scholars agree with Jones's findings, which he reiterated in a booklength study in 1978; Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the Hudson Valley on.
Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.
In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year's Eve, the eve of that saint's liturgical feast. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus / Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts, and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.
Irenaeus (c. 130–202) viewed Christ's conception as March 25 in association with the Passion, with the nativity nine months after on December 25. Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) may also have identified December 25 for the birth of Jesus and March 25 for the conception. Sextus Julius Africanus (c. 160–c. 240) identified December 25, later to become the most widely accepted date of celebration, as the date Jesus' birth in 221. The precise origin of assigning December 25 to the birth of Jesus is unclear. Various dates were speculated: May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20. When celebration on a particular date began, January 6 prevailed at least in the East; but, except among Armenians (the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church), who continue to celebrate the birth on January 6, December 25 eventually won acceptance everywhere.
The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom (c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation. Tertullian (d. 220) did not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa. In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox. The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.
The birth of Jesus was announced in Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Moreover, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.
In the early 4th century, the church calendar in Rome contained Christmas on December 25 and other holidays placed on solar dates. According to Hijmans "It is cosmic symbolism...which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the southern solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception." Usener and others proposed that the Christians chose this day because it was the Roman feast celebrating the birthday of Sol Invictus. Modern scholar S. E. Hijmans, however, states that "While they were aware that pagans called this day the 'birthday' of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas."
Around the year 386 John Chrysostom delivered a sermon in Antioch in favour of adopting the 25 December celebration also in the East, since, he said, the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10-13), which he dated from the duties Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Leviticus 16:29, 1 Kings 8:2) which falls from late September to early October. That shepherds watched the flocks by night in the fields in the winter time is supported by the phrase "frost by night" in Genesis 31:38-40. A special group known as the shepherds of Migdal Eder (Genesis 35:19-21, Micah 4:8) watched the flocks by night year round pastured for Temple Sacrifice near Bethlehem.
In the early 18th century, some scholars proposed alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas, celebrating the birth of him whom Christians consider to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2, was selected to correspond with the southern solstice, which the Romans called bruma, celebrated on December 25. In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church. It has been argued that, on the contrary, the Emperor Aurelian, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome. In 1889, Louis Duchesne proposed that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus.
Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally used Gregorian calendar. However, other Orthodox Christians, such as the churches of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland, and the Orthodox Church in America, among others, began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century, which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar.
The Chronography of 354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6. The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century. Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380. In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16). In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration. Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ's birth "as God" but "as man", this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time. The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.
Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus' birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday's inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation. Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups, such as the Puritans, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.
Prior to and through the early Christian centuries, winter festivals—especially those centered on the winter solstice—were the most popular of the year in many European pagan cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Many modern Christmas customs have been directly influenced by such festivals, including gift-giving and merrymaking from the Roman Saturnalia, greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year, and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.
Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas there, an example being the Koleda, which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". Some early Christian writers connected the sun to Jesus, who they believed was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the "Sun of Righteousness" (Sol Iustitiae). In his work Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus (c. 130–202), who was a hearer of Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle, viewed the conception of Jesus as March 25 in association with the Passion, with the birth of Jesus nine months after on December 25. The conception of Jesus, known as the Annunication, became associated with the "spring equinox" while Christmas was thought to coincide with the "winter solstice". A later work by an anonymous author known as De Pasha Computus (243) associated the idea that creation began on 25 March (the first day of the week, Sunday) with the conception or birth of Jesus on 28 March, the day of the creation of the sun (the fourth day of the week, Wednesday). One translation reads: "O the splendid and divine providence of the Lord, that on that day, the very day, on which the sun was made, the 28 March, a Wednesday, Christ should be born. For this reason Malachi the prophet, speaking about him to the people, fittingly said, 'Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings.'" The deponent verb (nascor), with its inchoative infix (sc), at issue in De Pasha Computus can connote conception or birth, thus the rendering is uncertain with some scholars favoring conception.
In the fourth century, John Chrysostom, who promoted the celebration on 25 December, commented on the connection: "But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December ... the eight before the calends of January [25 December] ..., But they call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord ...? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice." With regard to a December religious feast of the sun as a god (Sol), as distinct from a solstice feast of the (re)birth of the astronomical sun, some scholars have commented that, "while the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas". "Thomas Talley has shown that, although the Emperor Aurelian's dedication of a temple to the sun god in the Campus Martius (C.E. 274) probably took place on the 'Birthday of the Invincible Sun' on December 25, the cult of the sun in pagan Rome ironically did not celebrate the winter solstice nor any of the other quarter-tense days, as one might expect." The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought remarks on the uncertainty about the order of precedence between the religious celebrations of the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun and of the birthday of Jesus, stating that the hypothesis that 25 December was chosen for celebrating the birth of Jesus on the basis of the belief that his conception occurred on 25 March "potentially establishes 25 December as a Christian festival before Aurelian's decree, which, when promulgated, might have provided for the Christian feast both opportunity and challenge".
The Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome, is an early reference to the date of the nativity as December 25. In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.
Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.
In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the "forty days of St. Martin" (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent. In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent. Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.
The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.
By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. "Misrule"—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day, and there was special Christmas ale.
Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques, and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast". The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity. Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.
Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with "plow-boys" and "maidservants", and carol singing. The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant. The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been "purged of all superstitious observation of days". It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.
In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.
At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes. Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom. George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.
In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol that helped revive the "spirit" of Christmas and seasonal merriment. Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.
Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. A prominent phrase from the tale, "Merry Christmas", was popularized following the appearance of the story. This coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.
The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser, with "Bah! Humbug!" dismissive of the festive spirit. In 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole. The revival of the Christmas Carol began with William Sandys "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern" (1833), with the first appearance in print of ""The First Noel", "I Saw Three Ships", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", popularized in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".
In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. In 1832, the future Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it. After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.
An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850. By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.
In America, interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several short stories by Washington Irving which appear in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. and "Old Christmas". Irving's stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall, Birmingham, England, that had largely been abandoned, and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories.
In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas). The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. This also started the cultural conflict of the holiday's spiritualism and its commercialism that some see as corrupting the holiday. In her 1850 book The First Christmas in New England, Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a character who complains that the true meaning of Christmas was lost in a shopping spree.
While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U.S., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow detected "a transition state about Christmas here in New England" in 1856. "The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful, hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so." In Reading, Pennsylvania, a newspaper remarked in 1861, "Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas—threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior's birth."
The First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, "although of genuine Puritan stock", was 'preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee', a news correspondent reported in 1864. By 1860, fourteen states including several from New England had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday. In 1870, Christmas was formally declared a United States Federal holiday, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Subsequently, in 1875, Louis Prang introduced the Christmas card to Americans. He has been called the "father of the American Christmas card".
Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In the U.S., the "Christmas shopping season" starts as early as October. In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, there being a November–December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas. Industries completely dependent on Christmas include Christmas cards, of which 1.9 billion are sent in the United States each year, and live Christmas Trees, of which 20.8 million were cut in the U.S. in 2002. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.
In most Western nations, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce; almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year), whether laws require such or not. In England and Wales, the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. Film studios release many high-budget movies during the holiday season, including Christmas films, fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with high production values to hopes of maximizing the chance of nominations for the Academy Awards.
One economist's analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, because of the effect of gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001, Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone. Because of complicating factors, this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as white elephants, imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter.
Christmas has at times been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources. A Puritan-led controversy began during the English Interregnum, when England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament. Puritans sought to remove the remaining pagan elements of Christmas. During this brief period, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it "a popish festival with no biblical justification", and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. In Colonial America, the Puritans outlawed celebration of Christmas in 1659.
Christians and defenders of religious freedom such as the American Center for Law and Justice cite attacks on Christmas (dubbed a "war on Christmas"). One controversy is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed Holiday trees. In the United States there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property, including schools. Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, did not violate the First Amendment.
In November 2009, the Federal appeals court in Philadelphia endorsed a school district's ban on the singing of Christmas carols. The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. In the private sphere also, it has been alleged that any specific mention of the term "Christmas" or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers and retailers. In response, the American Family Association and other groups have organized boycotts of individual retailers.
In the United Kingdom there have been some minor controversies, one of the most famous being the temporary promotion of the Christmas period as Winterval by Birmingham City Council in 1998. Critics attacked the use of the word Winterval as political correctness gone mad, accusing council officials of trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. The council responded to the criticism by stating that Christmas-related words and symbols were prominent in its publicity material. There were also protests in November 2009 when the city council of Dundee promoted its celebrations as the Winter Night Light festival, initially with no specific Christmas references.
Legend: (Federal) = Federal holidays, (State) = State holidays, (Religious) = Religious holidays, (Week) = Weeklong holidays, (Month) = Monthlong holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies
Bolded text indicates major holidays that are commonly celebrated by Americans, which often represents the major celebration of the month.
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Kmart Australia Limited is a chain of discount stores owned by Wesfarmers. It operates 170 stores in Australia and 15 in New Zealand, with its head office located in Mulgrave, Victoria.
Kmart Australia Limited was born out of a joint venture between G.J Coles & Coy Limited (Coles) and S.S. Kresge Company in the United States, with Kresge owning 51% of the common stock in the company. They began organising to develop Kmart stores in Australia in 1968.
The first store opened in Burwood East, Victoria, in April 1969, with over 40,000 people passing through the checkouts on the first day. The doors had been closed 45 minutes after opening as a safety measure.
In 1978 Kresge exchanged its 51% stake in Kmart Australia for a 20% stake in Coles. In 1994 Coles bought back all shares held by Kresge.
A long-term licensing agreement allows Wesfarmers to use the Kmart name in Australia and New Zealand.][
In 2006, Coles Group announced plans for Kmart, along with BI-LO and the Coles Group liquor brands, to be merged into the Coles brand. The first re-branded store was planned to open in 2007, with 40 stores, mostly former 'Super K' stores divided last decade into separate Coles and Kmart stores, reformed into Coles Superstores. By March 2007 the plans for these super centres were deferred pending the sale of all or part of Coles Group, and in August 2007, incoming owners Wesfarmers said super centres would almost certainly not proceed.
Kmart's performance immediately prior to the Wesfarmers takeover was poor. In May 2007, it reported a sales drop of 3.2% for the third quarter, and an overall drop in sales of 3.9% for the first three quarters.
In August 2007 Wesfarmers said it would consider selling all or part of Kmart, or converting some stores to the Target brand. Wesfarmers took control of Coles Group in November 2007 and by March 2008 had decided to retain Kmart and invest $300m in the chain over the next five years.
After continuing poor performance in 2009, the 2010 financial year saw a large increase in EBIT, reporting revenue of A$4.02 billion and an EBIT of A$190 million, an increase in EBIT of over 74%.
On November 15, 2012, Australia's first multi-level Kmart will open in Adelaide's Rundle Mall.
As at September 2012, Kmart had 170 stores trading across Australia - 50 in NSW/ACT, 43 in Victoria, 36 in Queensland, 21 in Western Australia, 13 in South Australia, 5 in Tasmania and 2 in the Northern Territory. There are 15 stores located in New Zealand.
Kmart launched their company Facebook page on June 11, 2013.
Since 1988, Kmart and The Salvation Army have collected over five million gifts from customers, which are then distributed to those in need. The concept for the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal first came about when Eve Mitchell, a team member from the Kmart store in Noarlunga suggested Kmart use its network of stores as gift collection points, assisting charity groups at Christmas. Over 464,000 gifts were donated to the 2010 appeal.
In February 2010 Kmart requested permission from the NSW State Government to open their stores on Anzac Day prior to the traditional 1pm time, claiming their customers would be severely inconvenienced by their closure. The request was followed by criticism from politicians, ex-Diggers and their customers. Kmart's Managing Director Guy Russo withdrew the request in early March, apologising to the community and taking full responsibility admitting he was personally responsible.
In November 2011 Kmart sold female underwear aimed at its youth market which were considered sexually inappropriate. The underwear contained text such as: 'call me' and 'I ♥ rich boys'. The garments were withdrawn from sale and an apology was given after they received complaints from customers.