In the United States, consumerism and holidays go hand in hand. And nothing displays conspicuous consumption better than the candy isles at large retail chains during the preceding weeks before CERTAIN upcoming holidays. Certain being the key word here. Because, as I will argue, not all holidays in celebration make ritual the consumption or gift giving of candy. Oh no, some blatantly deny these sweet treats to be in attendance. So who are the bouncers at the holiday doors? And what are the motives behind the gate keeping?
Let’s look at candy from an economic standpoint. And see how it ties in with holidays in the US.
First off, what ARE the major candy consumption holidays? Starting from the beginning of the year, we have Valentine’s Day in February. Then there is Easter in March/April. Next we have Halloween in October. Then there is Thanksgiving in November—which has embraced candy consumption in the last decade or two. And lastly, there is Christmas in December. Are there holidays in May, June, July, August, and September? Of course there are. And major ones. May has Mother’s Day. June has Father’s Day. July has the 4th of July. But then why don’t they have candy at their cores as well? Well, let’s think about that for a minute. What do those last three holidays have in common that differentiates them from the candy-infested ones? They are all summer holidays. And what are the biggest enemies of chocolates? Heat and humidity. Oh I’m melting! Shipping and storing candy in the warm summer months is economically unsound—too risky and expensive.
So you see, candy's correlation with the cooler, fall, winter, and spring holidays has EVERYTHING to do with economics. The next time you buy those Valentine’s chocolates for your sweetie, ask yourself why it is that you don’t buy Mom chocolates on Mother’s Day. Mom LOVES chocolates! She loves them when Dad gives them to her in February. But alas, there is no candy to be distributed in May. So the next time you get those warm and fuzzy feelings, waxing nostalgic about the loving meaning behind the pastel foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in the crystal dish sitting on grandmother's coffee table, remember this... Those egg have nothing to do with sentimental tradition and the expression of sweet, loving gestures. They are about cold, hard cash!
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