Buy Nothing Day 2011: Nov. 25-26. Zenta Claus says…
While already referenced in this post (below) I wanted to take a moment to bring attention to Zenta Claus and “Buy Nothing Day” ( 無買日). I first encountered Zenta Claus in Kyoto, back in November 2003, at a little coffee shop called “Buttercups” (still there on Shirakawa-dori). At the time Buttercups was one of the few internet cafes in Kyoto.
On the bulletin board next to the one PC available for use was a little piece of paper with a Santa Claus practicing the lotus position with a little “thought bubble” beside his head with the kanji “無” in the middle of it; 無 meaning “nothing”, or, in the Zen Doctrine, “emptiness” or “void”. Underneath in English was a call to recognize “Buy Nothing Day” and (passively) fight Christmas Commercialism (and all Holiday Commercialism, for that matter) by taking a 1-day symbolic vacation from consumerism. The Zenta Claus photo above is a much prettier version of the little ink-on-paper sketch that I saw on that Buttercups’ bulletin board.
“Buy Nothing Day” is actually a Vancouver creation. It has its critics (“It’s just a ‘feel good’ thing”, “People will just buy the next day”, etc.). To me, though, it serves as a reminder that the Season should not be about the number or price or shinyness of gifts. And, indeed, that’s a Good Thing.
I should note (with some embarrassment) that I missed this year’s official Buy Nothing Day, 24 hours world wide November 27-28. I don’t think I bought anything that day anyway. It was, of course, “Black Friday” in the U.S. when I make a point of not going to stores anyway.
So, whether you subscribe to the “I get anxiety attacks in Malls and WalMat” or the “Keep Christ in Christmas” or the “Don’t feed the Corporate Monkey” or the “Keep the Miracle & Rededication in Hanukkah” or the “I’m sick of all that stuff” school of thought (these are not mutually exclusive, mind you), this one’s for you.
UPDATE: This piece was posted two (2) days ago, December 15, 2009. Yesterday, December 16, a Time Magazine story caught on and spread like wildfire around the net:
“But to a growing group of Christians, this focus on the commercial aspect of Christmas is itself the greatest threat to one of Christianity’s holiest days. ‘It’s the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that if I don’t spend enough money, someone will think I don’t love them,’ says Portland pastor Rick McKinley. …
“McKinley is one of the leaders of an effort to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas. Through a savvy viral video and marketing effort, the so-called Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded.
“…says one youth pastor whose church is part of the Advent Conspiracy. ‘When you start jacking with people’s idea of what Christmas is and you start to go against this $450 billion machine of materialism and consumerism, it really messes with people,’ he explains. ‘It takes a lot of patience to say there’s a different way – Christmas doesn’t have to be like this.'”
Interesting, isn’t it? Here, again, is the full article.