When Do the Holidays Really Begin?

Joseph Mulligan and Sydney Trebus

Why people shouldn’t think about the holidays too early:

by Joe Mulligan, Copy Editor

Everyone loves some Christmas cheer. Seeing the lights and trees and Santa beards brings light to all but the most dour of cynics. But these festive activities are great because they are rare. We only see them in the month of December, causing us to cherish them as a fleeting memory of joy and warmth. But in the past few years, the commercialization of Christmas has been increasing to unprecedented levels, leading to a disturbing phenomenon: early Christmas prepping.

Christmas cheer and consumerism often go hand in hand. Christmas decorations in Brisbane Arcade, November 19 2019. AUTHOR: kgbo. Via Creative Commons.

Have you ever been to a retail store and seen ads for Christmas presents in late October? Have you ever driven through town and seen Christmas lights up on houses before Thanksgiving has even arrived? These are symptoms of a diseased society, one where prestige in the last months of the year is solely determined by how much work and money you put into Christmas. 

Corporations shove our faces with ads, urging us to buy more and more and more, and we eagerly gobble it up, buying gifts months in advance to avoid holiday-season price jack-ups. Neighbors and friends compete over who has the most intricate or complex decorations, setting up massive light arrays in early fall.

However, the most insidious is the Christmas music. For years, people have been tuning in to Christmas music a few weeks before the holiday, enjoying the festive mood created as they prepare for relatives and friends to come over. But recently, Christmas music has begun playing on the radio in November.

The reason for this early preparation for Christmas is simple: it’s profitable. According to Statista.com, Christmas sales make up more than 20% of general merchandise sales in the US. This massive money-making potential has led companies to push for more time spent on Christmas. It began with the creation of a mass sales event in late November, known as Black Friday, but it wasn’t enough. 

Corporations craved more, shoving Thanksgiving aside in favor of the cash cow known as Christmas. Earthy fall-toned decorations were pushed out in favor of white and red candy canes and snowflakes. It is telling that the only remaining vestige of Thanksgiving embraced by the corporate machine is also the most commodifiable: pumpkin spice.

Now, the month of November has been colonized by Christmas preparation, leaving only one short week where people actually care about turkeys and gratitude. If this continues, Halloween could be next, leaving a hollow shell of candy and costume sales, the true spirit gutted by the zealous anticipation for Christmas. 

Now that we have entered December, celebrating the Christmas spirit is perfectly acceptable. But you must not allow the corporate brainwashing to overtake you; you must stay guarded and vigilant against the dangers of commercialized Christmas.

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Counter-perspective: Bring on the holiday cheer!

by Sydney Trebus, Business Manager

Holiday cheer, filled with lights, food, and time with family in friends. Christmas, one of the most celebrated holidays of them all, fills stores across the country with items to decorate your homes, food to fill your bellies, and gifts to put under your tree. Only coming once a year, people miss the season as it rounds the corner into the next year and anticipate it as the fall begins. Stores have begun their Christmas preparation extraordinarily early to anticipate the joy and happiness people associate with this time of the year.

As a culture, we refer to this time of the year as the holiday season, truly a line up of holiday after holiday, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, The New Year, Haunaka, and more. While we always see early preparation for holidays in our neighborly Walmarts, Targets, and superstores, this season is different. Stores must begin early preparation for our community because the holidays keep coming one after the other.

Corporations offer products to the community to put themselves in the holiday spirit, something November represents. Many of us associate the holiday, Thanksgiving, with thankfulness, turkey, and family, something the following holidays encompass as well. Families continue to celebrate together by traveling and eating hearty meals. It’s not as if Christmas is trying to steal Thanksgiving’s thunder, after all, you can be thankful for things all year and eat turkey whenever you please, in fact, you should.

The proud, illuminated Christmas tree is ubiquitous in many American households in the weeks following Thanksgiving. Photo via Sydney Trebus.

As for the Christmas music, what’s wrong with some classics a little bit earlier in the year. Most songs are both hopeful and joyful, something scarcely represented in other genres of music. And for those that don’t have the white and fluffy snow to get them into the spirit, It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas will surely do the trick. November is not forgotten, merely extra time to prepare for caroling in December.

Yes, it is true that corporations may look towards early festivities for profit, however, they aren’t the only ones benefiting from this remarkably evolved concept of the holiday season. The deals businesses give us allow us to fill our craving for objects. We can buy our airpods and Gucci belts on sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. And don’t forget about the workforce, students our age are finding more and more opportunities over Thanksgiving break and winter break to work in stores for a short period of time.

While corporations often anticipate the coming of a holiday season, it is ultimately up to us when we decide to indulge and leave the holiday. We can choose to play a different station on the radio or pull out our nifty Spotify account for only $9.99 a month or probably less over the holiday season, we can choose to buy holiday cakes, cookies, and meats, and we can choose when we want to decorate our homes, if at all. The holiday season is called what it is for a reason because it encompasses several holidays over a long period of time.

We may quickly move to Christmas as we enter November, but the spooky season is untouchable as it extends to the very end of October. The same however could be said about long-lasting holidays. Are people being too nostalgic by leaving their lights and decorations up to long? Are they disrupting Valentine’s Day and the coming of spring?