Already hot cross buns and easter eggs are available, although Easter is not for a month or two.
Why are shops set up for the Christmas sales promotions from November until the 24th December, instead of "the twelve days" of the traditional Christmas/New Year season?
The answer is quite simple. Religous festivals became a target for consumer growth and spending, with the advent of the department store, beginning in Paris, New York and London between the 1840s and 1880s.
This new style of store focussed on high sales turnover and new consumer items that could be cheaply produced due to the mechanisation of the industrial revolution. These new retailers piggy backed on new marketting techniques and once simple religious festivals became a new focus upon which to market goods to an ever increasing consumer market.
Of course, these major religious festivals were limited, so marketing events needed to be devised, to keep the registers ticking over in between. One American Department Store proprietor became tha master of marketing. Wannamaker revolutionised Christmas marketing, and celebrations,complete with Santa Claus and gift giving promotions on a grand scale. Between 1908 and 1914, John Wannamaker supported American women's peace initiatives to establish a day dedicated to mothers who had lost sons in the American Civil War. Whilst Wannamaker's philanthropic efforts and support for a more equal society are well documented, he no doubt recognised mother's day and related gift purchasing, was a way of capturing a new market for increased sales!
Father's Day soon followed on the heals of Mother's Day.
Thesedays, stores in Australia are capitalising on Halloween festivities, ironic, given that it is a celebration of the winter solstice, when we are actually embracing the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere!
While I do not begrudge gift-giving and ritual celebrations, I do worry about our consumer society and "throw away" culture. It is possible to keep things simple and as green as possible.
Personally, I love the European and Orthodox tradition of decorating hard boiled eggs, which are cracked and eaten at Midnight on Easter Sunday. This is but one example of ways of keeping things simple and green. No cage eggs of course. And yes, I do enjoy dark chocolate rabbits and eggs.
At Christmas, make a gift of the food you take to celebrate with your family amongst the adults and limit other gift giving to the children. Use green wrapping, like scarves, new tea towels and recycled wrapping. Be creative with what and how you buy.
A great gift is always a theatre or movie ticket, rather than more "stuff". Personally, I am a wine and flowers appreciater!
Finally, although retailers get the marketing strategies underway early, for each sales season, I take a leaf from my mother's book. I shop for presents 365 days a year, especially when sales are on. I pop things away for the people I love when I see them. I once bought a set of movie star mugs over a year in advance, for a significant birthday of a friend who collects movie posters. I would never have found a better gift at the last minute. Shopping should always be on your terms and in accordance with your budget!