Contemporary Consumption Rituals: A Research Anthology

By Cele C. Otnes; Tina M. Lowrey | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Consumer Fairy Tales
of the Perfect Christmas:
Villains and Other Dramatis Personae
Tina M. Lowrey
University of Texas at San Antonio
Cele C. Otnes
University of Illinois, Urbana—Champaign

Research on the modern-day Christmas—describing fractured families and decreased leisure time—indicates that ideal celebrations, although mythologized in literature and film, are hard to achieve (Otnes, Zolner, & Lowrey, 1994; Sherry, McGrath, & Levy, 1992). But as Christmas has taken on a more secular meaning (Belk, 1989, 1993), it has become the occasion for acknowledging important social bonds. In fact, for increasingly mobile and malleable families, it may be the only significant recognition of kinship ties to occur all year (Cheal, 1987, 1988). Thus, the risk of not “doing Christmas right” seems to outweigh any inconveniences or ill tempers that result from the holiday.

Many orchestrators of Christmas celebrations (typically women; Fischer & Arnold, 1990; Laird, 1996) are not content with having merely tolerable holidays. Instead, they often aspire to creating a Christmas more memorable than the previous one. In fact, we argue that our informants strive to create a “fairy tale” Christmas. Although this term is typically associated with weddings, our data demonstrate it is just as relevant to this similarly complex consumption ritual. In the vernacular, a “fairy tale” Christmas would seem to mean that consumers seek happy endings for their celebrations, like those fairy tales that end with a joyous family reunion (Hansel and Gretel), the acquisition of precious goods (Jack and the Beanstalk), or recognition for creativity and cleverness (Puss ‘NBoots). Moreover, not only do our informants strive toward fairy tale endings, our data reveal that their experiences actually involve the characters (or dramatis personae) found in fairy tales. In short, our informants' tales are filled with valiant heroines, evil vil


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Contemporary Consumption Rituals: A Research Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 332

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?