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Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites "but open to everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action," says the group's website.

'When I was working at Adbusters magazine back in 2001, I noticed how successful the Buy Nothing Day campaign was, especially in North America and the UK," said Aiden Enns, co-founder from his home in Winnipeg, Canada. "What a shame that it's only one day, I thought," With a background in the Christian faith, he decided to inject a spirit of radical simplicity into the whole Christmas season -- and Buy Nothing Christmas was born.

His first act was to gather a a few of his Mennonite friends, pass the hat and purchase a full-page ad in their national church magazine, "If you think Christmas has gotten too commercialized, here's your chance to do nothing about it." Then they took the message to the broader public and launched a website to spread the word.

It's not that Enns and his gang are against giving things at Christmas. "Gift-giving is important," he said. "It's a profound action, an important glue that keeps communities strong, people less individualistic. But this gift-giving impulse has been exploited by consumer capitalism and a market that preys upon our appetite for wasteful gadgets and soon-obsolete fashions."

The Buy Nothing Christmas website includes alternative gift ideas, for example a set of coupons to print and give to family members that include two free homemade desserts, three back massages, or an evening of child care.

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