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The new Gap ad

This post was written by Elysia
on November 20, 2009 | Comments (12)

This week Gap, the popular US clothing chain, released its 2009 holiday ad, which I’ve already seen probably 10 times. It’s a loud and rather annoying cheer, which the first few times I heard just sounded like random shouting. After a couple more times, I realized they are cheering:

Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go Solstice!

Yes, our religious path has been elevated to the heights of a mainstream TV commercial. I mean, they could have picked Festivus for number four, right?


They even have a website where you can choose a “cheer” from these overly cheery model/actor/dancers, personalize it, and email it to friends and family. Aw, thanks Gap. But I did not see a Pagan Solstice card among them. In fact, the solstice-inclusive chant from the TV ad is changed to

Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go whatever holiday youwannakuh!

Ouch! Downgraded! And at the end of this particular one, after shouting out “a tree or a menorah or…” they take a long, long pause and then say “a something no one’s heard of yet!” Yep, that sounds about right. Sigh.

The video has already sparked hundreds of comments on YouTube, with some even saying “Christmas and Solstice should not be in the same cheer.”

What do you think? Is this ad a good thing for Pagans, or a case of the extremely rare phenomenon known as Pagansploitation?

(P.S. If you’re reading this on Facebook, please visit our blog by clicking on “view original post,” just underneath this post for even more bloggy goodness. If you’re reading this on the Llewellyn website blog, why not visit us on Facebook and become a fan? Go to http://www.facebook.com/LlewellynBooks. Please feel free to join the discussion in either place. Thanks! – Elysia)

Reader Comments

Written By Ivan
on November 20th, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

In some way, it is probably not a good thing for any religion to be used in commercials – it is a kind of desacralization, I would say. However, there is at least one good point here: Exactly what they do not understand, and therefore cannot use, is the true sacred ground, devoid of all oversimplifications and unnecessary cliches. Just by throwing away everything they do can use, we’ll get our feet right on it.

Written By Brandi Palechek
on November 20th, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

I have mixed feelings about it. I was pleasantly surprised to hear, “Go Solstice!” in the chant, but why not use the same wording on the website? The “Christmas and Solstice should not be in the same cheer” comment was obviously made by someone who does not understand their most hallowed celebration is actually based in Pagan tradition. What is totally funny is most Christians don’t even realize Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th. It was a date chosen by the Christian leadership to mark the celebration of his birth. It is no coincidence it happens to be around the same time Pagans celebrate the Solstice.

Written By Elysia
on November 20th, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

Ah, Brandi, you see, this is all part of the “Christmas wars” that bubble up this time of year. On the one side, you have companies who are religion-neutral in their decorations and advertising, who instruct their employees to say “Happy Holidays!” rather than “Merry Christmas!” On the other side, you have the conservative Christians who complain that we’re trying to “cover up” or entirely eradicate Christmas from the public sphere, and naturally they see no connection whatsover between their practices and those of “other” people. Instead of welcoming the inclusion of other religions as a sign of freedom of religion, they see it as an intrustion on *their* freedom of religion.

So naturally, when conservatives/fundamentalists see ads like this, they go berserk. Unfortunately, inclusion of all is very threatening for some.

Written By Mary
on November 20th, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

My ears perked up when I heard “Go Solstice!” on the commercial. I’m a little sad that they left it off the site, but a cheering thought is that more people will see the commercial than will likely visit the website, though.

All in all, I think it’s a positive step in the right direction! I’m happy to share this holiday with all religions and all ways of life and it’s nice that some are beginning to accept mine as well. 🙂

Written By Morrigan
on November 20th, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

The word Solstice is not a pagan term at all being that many cultures through out the world celebrate the return of the light. Yule is a pagan term and not one used in the ad. Even if it were the simple fact is that paganism has hit the mainstream quite some time ago. One only needs to go to Barnes and Noble to check out their “spiritual” section…they have branded tarot decks and spell books.

Mainstream serves a purpose that I think is being missed in this discussion…normalcy. Being a lesbian I know this phenomena first hand. Thanks to Ellen and the like we are seeing more and more fight for equal rights and I can assure you it is due to the media talking about celebs coming out that paved the way for this to happen.

My spirituality is sacred to me because I say it is and no ad on television can change that. If media exposure creates tolerance, than why would we complain?

Written By Elysia
on November 20th, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

Good point, Morrigan! I think it will create tolerance, and that’s always good. I think that it will also get people to start asking “who celebrates solstice, anyway?” and connecting the dots. Yule is indeed “a” Pagan term, and of course it’s not the only one. Pagans of many stripes, not just northern European, have celebrated the solstice for millennia. But nowadays I think if you say you celebrate Yule, many folks just assume you mean Christmas and you’re saying it in an old-fashioned way! Think of all the Christmas carols that use the word “yule-tide” to refer to the time of year, not necessarily to the Pagan holiday. I think within the Pagan community we can equally hear “Good Yule” and “Happy Solstice” – at least in my experience. What about everyone else?

Written By Erica Cornett
on November 20th, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

I was pleasantly surprised to hear them include solstice and I don’t think it has to be exclusively pagan. The solstice is something every religion can share. However, it does tend to run stronger in Pagan circles and any inclusion we can get is positive, even if they won’t back it up on their website. This is Gap, after all. Baby steps are still steps forward and I will be grateful for those as I continue to push toward social equality. Maybe if we support Gap enough they will be bolder next year. Go Pagans!

Written By Daughter OBatala
on November 20th, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

The use of the word ‘yule’ in reference to the holiday was part of the ‘rearranging’ of Jesus’ birthday. Yule does indeed refer specifically to ‘our’ holy day, but was replaced by ‘chritmas’ as more people became comfortable with the changeover. ‘Yule-tide’ is a lost tie to the process of past conversion.

What bothers me about the ad is the amount of angst it brings up amongst people who can’t deal with difference. The light is on, and we see where the roaches are so to speak. It saddens me to see the vehemence in the anti-Solstice comments and the righteousness in the Christmas-only attitudes. I suppose it’s good to test the waters sometimes to see how we’re doing in our attempts to evolve into a tolerant society, but the results are rarely encouraging.

On the flip side, we’re not valuable enough to the economy that Gap wants us to buy things from them to put in our stockings. The cynic in me wants to know if the economy is really that bad, or am I suddenly more affluent than I knew. More power to the Gap, whatever their reasons, but the ‘moral majority’ is s tough crowd, and however their angst manifests, are we a powerful enough demographic to counteract the potential negatives? A risk, indeed.

I’ll keep chanting for peace.

Written By Daughter OBatala
on November 20th, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

Ah, lapse in editing! Apologies all!
We’re NOW valuable enough to the economy…


Written By Nova Brilliant
on December 1st, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

I love the fact they said Solstice! Any step towards understanding, no matter how small (or commercial) is a step in the right direction.

Written By jim Germain
on December 6th, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

WHAT a bunch of politically correct nonsense spouted here. Christians conservatives (oh no,,,) fundamentalists do not see ads like this,and go berserk. And I’m not threatened, and unwelcoming to other faiths.
Political correctness is just another weak way to hide what the individual thinks-THA’S WHY ITS CALLED “POLITICAL”.A person who is afraid to say that they think just gets in front of the political parade and pretends it’S their idea.People LOVE CHRISTMAS in private, I’ve asked them.
Without the “spirit of Christmas tha is surrounding the nativity”-PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TO MEN, GIFT GIVING- there would be no wishing you a “happy holidays” or Season’s greetings”.

It would be just another holiday.Have the courage to admit it

Written By Elysia
on December 7th, 2009 @ 9:59 am

And without the solstice, people would not be celebrating Jesus’s birthday in December. (Scholars feel that he was actually born sometime in the spring.) So why is it so terrible to include the solstice too? To say “happy holidays” and include all other faiths? I’m pretty sure Jews don’t celebrate Hannukah at this time of year just because of “the spirit of Christmas that is surrounding the nativity” so you shouldn’t assume that EVERYTHING going on at this time of year is solely because of Christmas.

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