XMAS, an­nu­al mid­win­ter hol­i­day of eco­nom­ic re­birth. It is pre­ced­ed by Thanks­giv­ing, Black Fri­day, and the twen­ty-eight shop­ping days of Ad­vert.

Xmas is cel­e­brat­ed in two phas­es:

  1. Xmas Day (Dec. 25), when gifts are given.
  2. Boxing Day (Dec. 26), when gifts are taken back to the store.

Its pre­cise ori­gins are lost to his­to­ry; what we know of them comes main­ly from the po­et Cat­ul­lus, whose po­em Ex Mer­cat­i­bus de­picts the hor­ri­fy­ing bru­tal­i­ty of Ro­man shop­pers dur­ing the orgium munus­cu­lum.

In con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety, Xmas has be­come an en­tire­ly re­li­gious hol­i­day, which is to say an eco­nom­ic one. The on­set of win­ter, with its at­ten­dant Sea­son­al Af­fec­tive Disor­der, means that con­sumer ac­tiv­i­ty is dan­ger­ous­ly low at the turn­ing of a new fis­cal year. The ar­ti­fi­cial de­mand cre­at­ed by the Xmas sea­son plays a crit­i­cal role in keep­ing our eco­nom­ic sys­tem just shy of col­lapse from year to year.

Xmas is of­ten con­flat­ed with Christ­mas, the Ro­man fes­ti­val to Saturn, with which it hap­pens to co­in­cide, though the two are oth­er­wise en­tire­ly dis­sim­i­lar. In re­cent years a pop­u­lar move­ment aimed at putting the X back in Xmas has large­ly suc­ceed­ed in re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the ob­ser­vance of Xmas back to its prop­er com­mer­cial fo­cus.

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