The leaves don’t turn; the snow doesn’t fall. It doesn’t get colder or in the spring thaw. There are some seasonal changes, more or less rain, hurricanes. But no gradual progression of the seasons. So how do people mark the changing of the Florida seasons?
The secret for residents is the flow of commercial holidays and the changing of the colours of the jelly beans.
The day after Christmas is not Boxing Day in Florida, but the day the Valentine’s Day displays go up and the jelly beans turn all red. The day after Valentine’s Day is the day St. Patrick’s Day displays and green jelly beans emerge from the back of the stores, to be replaced, depending on the year, by Easter eggs, baskets of pastel jelly beans and specially produced Reese’s peanut butter eggs.
True, there may be interludes of President’s Day Sales which happen usually only in the bedding sections of department stores, or at car dealerships which have sales for any occasions.
There is an urgency to buy to keep up with the changes in the seasons and conform to the changing festival days. Each mini-season is just long enough for a sales event with a different flavour – with displays and products colour coded to that mini-season: the red and green jelly beans of Christmas evolve into the red jelly beans of Valentines, then the green jelly beans of St. Patrick’s.
And so the seasons are marked, or should I say marketed.
There seem to be cards, candies and cakes for every season. Back to school, followed by the orange and black of the Hallowe’en candies and displays, Thanksgiving (Pilgrims and turkeys) which, after a brief Black Friday interlude, turns into Christmas once again.
Rampant commercialism? Yes. The United States is a nation that appropriates from everywhere and celebrates itself more than any other. It is not much of a wonder that such a larger proportion of the US GDP is on consumer goods, more than in any other country; the country is all about celebrating consumption.
I recall George W. Bush’s speech as he left the 9-11 Trade Center ruins urging everyone to get back to normal and go out and spend. Vowing, the U.S. “will be open for business tomorrow.”
As the orange and black jelly beans of Halloween, fade into the red and green Crunch Berries of a Smartfood Christmas, I wonder if it is a failure of the U.S. economy that no one has yet determined what colour the jelly beans should be for many other commercial holidays, like Back to School or Martin Luther King Day.