By the time this article appears in UNews, Halloween will have only been over for two days. Why is that relevant, you might ask? Seeing as Christmas items have been in stores for easily the last month and a half, it is incredibly relevant. It shouldn’t be relevant at this time of year, but Christmas products seem to be arriving earlier and earlier in stores each year, sometimes unseasonably so, particularly where the weather is concerned.
This is largely a result of the increasing commercialization of Christmas. Most all holidays mean big revenue for businesses of all sorts, but none beat Christmas for the sheer rush of family and friends trying to buy gifts for their loved ones. However, these people tend to pay more attention to sales and what seem to be the most popular items for Christmas gifts and lose sight of the family camaraderie that can come with a holiday where most everyone receives extended time off of work or school.
In days gone by, Christmas could last for up to twelve days until January 5th with the celebration of Three Kings’ Day, the day on which the Magi allegedly reached the newborn Jesus. This also coincided nicely with Eastern Orthodox Christmas celebrations, which usually happen on Jan. 7th in the Gregorian calendar. Perhaps, because of this extended celebratory period, people did not feel the need to purchase or make Christmas presents until a few days before Christmas; many households did not even put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve.
One would think that with the massive rush that many stores experience around Christmas Eve of people struggling to fit in last-minute shopping—or just shopping, period—for gifts, much in tune with their predecessors, Christmas products would not need to be sold in conjunction with Halloween decorations. It always amuses me to see decorations for two holidays that began as firmly Christian celebrations with pagan roots before being adopted so much by secular culture as to be rendered commercial opportunities coexisting in the same stores on the same shelves. However, it is also mildly sad to consider how far All Hallows’ Eve and Christmas have strayed from their roots, but I am talking about Christmas here.
As I mentioned, part of the hyper-commercialization swirling around Christmas naturally leads to products being released progressively earlier, but it can also lead to all manner of Christmas festivities being celebrated preemptively. These can range from Christmas music being played hideously ahead of schedule on radios all over the country, holiday specials airing for popular TV shows long ahead of time, and Christmas-themed media coming out too far from Christmas. The St. Louis area at least seems to have a solid grip on managing the last two, as does most of the country. There have been years, though, when local radio stations have begun to play Christmas music the day after Halloween and have not stopped until at least three days after Christmas. I do love Christmas music, but it does start to get old when it’s been airing for that long, especially considering one can only hear “Little Saint Nick” and “Jingle Bell Rock” so many times before wanting to strangle Saint Nick with some rock-filled jingle bells. If the whole point of Christmas music is to increase Christmas cheer, playing it too early seems a little counterintuitive.
So when is a good time to start playing Christmas music, selling Christmas products, and getting into the holiday spirit? Well, a tradition at my house is to start putting up our frankly elaborate porcelain Christmas village on Veterans’ Day. My parents and I always did it on this day so I could be off of school to help assemble my favorite decorations. For me, this was always accompanied by Christmas music from our CDs, and my passion for Christmas escalated as this event neared. As such, I was already ahead of most of my peers in my Christmas spirit. Thus, for purely sentimental reasons, I declare Veterans’ Day to be the first day to begin Christmas celebrations. Even so, I have rationalized its proximity to Thanksgiving and distance from Halloween enough that the date has become acceptable, as well. Will this do anything to change the hideous commercialization of Christmas? Probably not, but it’s always a way to enjoy my favorite holiday on my own terms.