Festive cheer is inescapable at this time of year, from the oversized ornaments adorning city streets to choirs of children singing carols in local parks.
But not everyone is excited about the upcoming Christmas holiday.
While it may be somewhat taboo to admit it, the feeling is more common than you might think.
Nearly one in two Australians (47 per cent) are not looking forward to Christmas, the Australian Christmas Attitudes survey by data insights platform Glow found.
Nearly one in 10 (8.3 per cent) said they were dreading the holiday.
The survey revealed that people find Christmas difficult for a range of reasons.
It is extremely stressful, extremely expensive and too much work for the person who has to do all the hosting and the cooking,’’ one respondent said.
For 41 per cent of single people, loneliness was a major reason they weren’t looking forward to the day.
By contrast, high-income earners attributed their holiday blues to social pressure and the expectation they take time off work and see family.
However, across all income levels one thing stood out as the biggest December downer: Financial stress.
“Petrol prices go through the roof and I can’t afford to visit my children and grandchildren,” one survey respondent said.
Another described Christmas as “over-rated”, “expensive” and a “waste of money”.
According to Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan estimates, a staggering $52.7 billion will be spent in retail stores between Novermber 12 and December 24, up 2.6 per cent on 2018.
Around $21.7 billion is forecast to be spent on food, followed by $8.8 billion on household goods, $7.5 billion on dining and drinking out, and $4.2 billion on footwear and clothing.
On average, each Australian will spend $686 on Christmas according to a recent Accenture survey, with ACT residents tipped to spend the most ($816 each), followed by New South Wales ($769), Victoria ($674), Queensland ($658), WA ($616), Tasmania ($587), South Australia ($564) and Northern Territory ($457).
Earlier this month, Community Council of Australia chair Tim Costello urged people to reflect on “greedy” Christmas spending habits, and consider giving to charity instead.
Mr Costello slammed the “consumerism and really pointless greed” of pre-Christmas sales events such as Black Friday, telling The New Daily that while spending might make us momentarily feel happier, it was more important to lead a meaningful life.
“More primary to happiness is meaning,” he said.
“And there’s meaning in saving a child’s life, building schools, immunising kids, or helping people with breast cancer.
“We’re all fragile humans trying to get by. Happiness is a fickle thing, it ebbs and flows.”
$400 million of unwanted gifts in landfill
In addition to causing financial stress, retail experts have warned that the Christmas shopping frenzy is also causing environmental harm and contributing to the climate crisis.
“Be mindful of giving for giving’s sake. About $400 million was spent on unwanted gifts last Christmas, many of which probably went to landfill. The most unwanted presents included underwear, socks, pyjamas, candles and novelty items,” Australian academics Louise Grimmer, Gary Mortimer and Gary Grimmer wrote in The Conversation.
“Or perhaps avoid the retail frenzy altogether, and consider having a present-free Christmas. The planet, and your wallet, will thank you.”