Mammon and Messiah came ever closer to convergence in the run-up to Christmas 2004 as the planet girded its loins to celebrate either the birth of Christ or the ascendancy of marketing - or both.

Epitomizing the latter, the world's largest etailer, reported that one of the Twelve Days of Christmas (it declined to say which) marked its largest-ever twenty-four hour trading period.

On that day, henceforth sacred in the annals of ecommerce, Amazon logged worldwide orders of 2.8 million units - approximately thirty-two items a second.

And across the holiday season as a whole, the ringing of Amazon's tills was louder and longer than ever before in its ten-year history.

During which time, over half a million gift certificates were ordered and about 100,000 shipments delivered to US military personnel overseas.

One of Amazon's bestsellers over the holiday was comedian Jon Stewart's book, America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction.

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff