Christmas season starts early
Christmas is more than a month away, yet the celebration of the season began weeks ago.
Christmas is the only special occasion we annually observe that is celebrated for a period of upwards of two months.
We don’t begin to celebrate Halloween at the beginning of September, nor do we even begin to think about Valentine’s Day at the outset of January. The same goes for Easter, Mother’s Day and all other special occasions. A couple of weeks in advance, perhaps. But two months? Christmas is the only special occasion that can lay claim to such a long, drawn out period of celebration.
For many, the Christmas season begins on Nov. 1. On that morning the Yuletide enthusiasts will be composting the carved pumpkins that had been lit on their front porches the night before while later that afternoon, they’ll be setting up and decorating their trees. Others, out of respect for Remembrance Day, will wait until at least Nov. 12 to get the ball rolling. Nevertheless, at minimum among the steadfast aficionados it’s a 44-day celebration leading up to Dec. 25, or more than 50 days when the festivities are stretched out to New Year’s Day and beyond. Putting that time frame into perspective, it almost matches the duration of the summer hiatus students enjoy between school years.
So why are so many willing to devote that much time toward observing a single special occasion? The answer to that hasn’t changed in several decades. We can thank the retail sector for that. I don’t blame any of our local business owners for decorating their stores for Christmas on Nov. 1 and simultaneously stocking their shelves with festive wares while pumping seasonal music from their audio systems. It’s all about competition. The early bird does truly catch the worm and if you snooze, you lose. Retailers must do what is necessary to capture their market share in this world of stiff competition.
Over time, their marketing strategies have subliminally put many into the “Christmas mood,” and that’s why we’re seeing trees up and houses lit in early November.
Most radio stations will hold off until at least American Thanksgiving before they begin to air Christmas music, but other media outlets have already jumped the gun. There are specialty television networks that have been airing cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies since the beginning of November. The plots of these movies tend to be carbon copies of one another and have already become nauseating well before December arrives. Usually, they’re a case of man meets woman who isn’t what the other thinks he or she really is. They put up with one another for the first half of the movie, then there is a quarrel when they learn of the other’s true colours, but then they realize there is a spark between them, they become an item just in time for Christmas, and they all live happily ever after. White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street they are not.
I often wonder just how long those who are raring to get Christmas underway each year leave their trees and lights up beyond Dec. 25. Do they stretch the season out to at least New Year’s Day or are they so tired of it all that maybe Boxing Day is as far as they’re willing to go?
In any event, don’t expect the way Christmas is observed to change anytime soon. It has long been carved in stone. Thank goodness for Halloween. Without it, there’s no doubt among some that trees would be up and decorated and outdoor lights lit right after Thanksgiving…Canadian Thanksgiving.
Mike Jiggens is a Delhi resident