I had always thought that Easter was the untouchable holiday. Christmas is increasingly about shopping and buying presents – the innocent giving of gifts to children on Christmas morning is now a billion dollar industry that businesses and the service industry count on to sustain the winter economy. But I thought Easter was different! Aside from a chocolate bunny and some Peeps, Easter was never a holiday that I associated with presents. And yet, joyful and unassuming Easter has proven to be a holiday in which sales are running rampant and stores vehemently encourage consumers to, well, consume. One of my favorite boutiques sent me an email telling me to buy their dresses so that all eyes could be on me on Easter Sunday. The email made me feel two things. First, I felt a twinge of disgust – certainly Easter is not a time for attention to be on me and the way that I look. Second, I felt giddy because I saw that the sale was 60% off and free shipping. And then I may have acquiesced and taken a quick peek.
What can I say? I attend a big Baptist church in the South – Easter means white gloves and big hats. While I may skip those fashion must-haves, keeping up appearances isn’t optional.
Yesterday I got even more of those types of emails, which was particularly frightening considering that it was Good Friday. I spent a lot of time staring incredulously at my email yesterday, thinking, This is not the Easter I remember! Sales and shopping were not activities my family ever did on Easter weekend! Not this untouchable holiday, too!
Though I suppose those Easter egg hunts we went to as kids prepared us for this – rifling through bushes looking for the golden egg surely helped me learn to rifle through racks of clothing in search of that glorious, half-price J. Crew tunic in my size.
But how do we bring it back? I’m not saying sales are bad – those fingertip length shorts for my camp counselor uniform have to be purchased some time – but is this the place for it?
I think we need to revisit the idea of Lent. The Lenten Season is our journey toward the Easter holiday in which we must continuously deny ourselves a worldly temptation. It feels funny, in that light, to end the journey by digging into the money you saved not buying all those iced mochas for the last 40 days. I think it’d be a shame to end the 40-day stretch by succumbing to a different temptation that distracts from the sentiment, depth, and holiness of the weekend.
Perhaps the sales should take a back seat. Christmas seems to have that covered, and even if the resurrection of Christ doesn’t make the importance of the weekend salient, the Lenten Season with which some of us have been struggling, I hope, does.
But cheer up. There’s still Memorial Day sales.
Marketing Intern, UVA 2015