It was the start of September and I walked into Home Depot for some home essentials when I saw a jolly smiling Santa blow-up animatronic nestled right next to the Halloween decor. I stared in disbelief then proceeded to ask, “Why does it seem like every year the start of the Christmas season inches closer and closer?”
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is easily my favorite holiday, but it’s hard to get excited about it when it feels like it’s being marketed to us all year long. Celebrating holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and any other days that hold significance to us is part of the specialness of it. If Christmas is all year long, aren’t we diluting the message and spiritual value? This event and many other instances similar to it made me curious to see where public opinion stood on this or if I was just being a plain Grinch.
According to an Instagram poll taken by Point Weekly, 51% of students voted Christmas belongs in December while another 21% disagreed voting that Nov. 1 is considered the start of the Christmas season. The remaining 20% voted they were indifferent to the whole debate but were excited about a belly full of turkey.
The problem is not about Christmas enthusiasts expressing joy and excitement about the holiday or wanting to knock out Christmas shopping early to get ahead of the crowd. I support my friends and loved ones who have all their Christmas decorations up the day after Halloween because we’re all free to celebrate how we choose. I also agree that putting up your Christmas decorations early allows you to make the most of the season since December seems to fly by and some want to make all the work that goes into decorating count. The Christmas spirit is uplifting, warm and comforting providing a festive escapism that feels comforting during the stressful times of the year.
The problem lies with the commodification of Christmas, the role corporations play in the perpetual holiday season being pushed on consumers within retail spaces these days and also the way consumer behavior drives the economy.
On Nov. 1, just one day after Halloween, Walmart released its viral “Mean Girls” commercial announcing its Black Friday deals which started on Nov. 8. Followed by Starbucks which released its holiday drink collection as early as Nov. 2. Add that into influencers monetizing everything holiday related with sponsored ads, it’s hard not to feel Christmas fatigue.
In 2023, the National Retail Federation (NRF) “expects shoppers will spend around $900 each on purchases for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and other end-of-year festivities.”
While I don’t think we’ll ever be able to say for certain, large corporations supply the demand and the loop continues.
An article from the Washington Post reports “a marketing analytics firm and ad tech platform Nexxen found that 61 percent of marketers expect to spend most of their holiday budgets in October and November — mostly via targeted online ads, social media and video streaming. And 86 percent of them plan to spend the same or more on advertising compared with last year.”
On the other hand, those who look forward to the Thanksgiving season argue the overnight switch between Halloween to Christmas almost erases the November holiday, a phenomenon known as “Christmas creep” where retailers introduce Christmas-themed merchandise before the start of the Holiday season. Why can’t we just take the time to process one holiday before skipping right along to the next one? We all know as soon as Christmas is over the aisles will be covered in Valentine’s Day decor. In the time of social media and instant gratification, can we acknowledge that it’s ok to slow down?
It feels exhausting to swim in a sea of holiday propaganda from social media, public spaces and retail stores. One marketing ploy after the other dilutes the meaning of Christmas. It’s okay to enjoy ads and hit up the Black Friday sale. We certainly can’t force Christmas to stay in December, but we can take some time to reflect during this time on the true meaning of Christmas and the holiday season while also staying mindful of what and how we consume.