Why do we celebrate Christmas so early?


Image courtesy Digidreamgraphix via Creative Commons 3.0 License

Joel Warren, Ranger Review Reporter

Picture this: It’s November 1st and you had one too many Almond Joy candies last night… Now you feel more of a sugar high than a sense of being during the season. Why? Because instead of waking-up to leftover Halloween decorations still up, you look out the window to find a giant snowman on your neighbor’s roof (Christmas with the Kranks anyone?).

This is a phenomenon that maybe not everyone has experienced this early and this heavyset, but the general idea still stands – we celebrate Christmas WAY too early.

In 2020, the peak of Google searches for “Christmas” and other related seasonal festivities began a quick rise on November 1st, the day directly following Halloween, and the national quest for candy. Obviously December 20th-26th is the absolute peak, but the spike begins with a rocketing 14% to 52% between November 1st and November 29th. That means roughly a whole month before Christmas even starts, more than half of our Google-using population has it on the brain.

So why do we celebrate so prematurely? What about Thanksgiving, too?

As bleak as it may seem, most of this is likely the result of marketing. Puritan and Christian culture denounced Christmas as an exclusively European tradition, overtly tied with excessive drinking and wild partying. But ever since 1681 when the holiday’s national ban was revoked, and then the eventual 1840s, the gift-giving element of our favorite holiday saw a rise. Kris Kringle became an icon of the holiday, featured in plenty of literary works, and used to sell knick-knacks. It was perceived as a day of joy and peace, which was inherently marketable to a society of increasingly jaded citizens.

Moving forward to the 20th century, Christmas becomes a centerpiece of world culture, even beyond Christians, leading to events like the Christmas Truce of WWI. Various traditions became a staple of every American household: lights on the streets, popcorn and ornaments hung around each family’s tree, and warm comfort food served at every dinner. Corporations saw this and capitalized on it by making Christmas and winter themed campaigns when advertising products. Many turned-out to become synonymous with Christmas itself, such as Santa Claus’ current culturally-recognized design originating from a 1931 Coca-Cola print ad.

The truth is, because of Christmas being such a corporate holiday, it is an easier decision to push-out more products around this time then, say, Saint Patrick’s Day. Some holidays appear early in small increments, such as candy wrappers getting Halloween overlays as early as August, but it isn’t as noticeable because that’s only one type of product. Christmas is universally marketable no matter what, so much so that it has broken the stigma of being a religious holiday celebrated so vastly. Christmas candy, Christmas movies, Christmas toiletries, Christmas auto, Christmas plumbing, Christmas pens to start writing your Christmas will before you go in your Christmas coffin.

All jokes aside, this shows an underlying problem with society mentally. Current self-abiding issues such as fatigue from the news, depression, and other serious mental health complications aren’t being treated with time or care, rather we turn to small fixes, such as that one family dinner that you SWEAR won’t go weary this time. The balance of hope and despair isn’t held by a strong witted part of our brains that strives for more certainty and inner-peace, it’s held up by a jar of figgy pudding and a Barnes and Noble gift card from grandma.

It isn’t unhealthy to be excited for Christmas, nor do I hope anyone loses their love for the most wonderful time of the year. The issue really comes-down to why we as a culture love Christmas. It’s like a relationship, it isn’t love if there’s only one side, much like how Christmas isn’t something to love unless it loves you back. Do you love receiving and giving gifts because of the thought and the other person behind that exchange? That’s awesome, never lose that. Do you love Christmas because it means you can prove to others how great you are for getting them gifts, or for the wealth of gifts you’ll be swimming in by 12:00AM on the 26th?

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a day like Christmas. The only problem is that I hope more people take the time to look deeper and reflect as we enter this mid-fall, pre-winter season. I hope we take into consideration this question: Is Christmas my band-aid, or is it my gauze wrap?

If we rely too much on Christmas to be good people, or expect society to be better… it dims the light that could be spread across the rest of the year. Why do we have to wait for one particular day to make things great when we could just try that the rest of the year?

Christmas is an idea. If we stop viewing it as a day (or the whole season it’s become), we have more time to enjoy what it has to offer. We will stop being limited to a day, and start spreading TRUE Christmas cheer all year long.