One writer against Christmas went so far as to say that the shopkeepers for their own commercial purposes alone sustain Christmas Day. I am not sure whether he said that the shopkeepers invented Christmas Day. Perhaps he thought that the shopkeepers invented Christianity. It is a quaint picture, the secret conclave between the cheese-monger, the poulterer, and the toy-shop keeper, in order to draw up a theology that shall convert all Europe and sell some of their goods. Opponents of Christianity would believe anything except Christianity. That the shopkeepers make Christmas is about as conceivable as that the confectioners make children. It is about as sane as that milliners manufacture women.
— G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, January 13, 1906.
I dug this out of the kinnon.tv archives from two Christmases ago. For when the muse departs, ’tis best to quote Chesterton.
UPDATE: My good blog friend, Sonja, does a wonderful job riffing on this post.