Photo by: Lakota Lane
Those who celebrate Christmas often face a dilemma when opening their holiday celebrations for the year: how early is too early to begin festivities?
This question has sparked many conversations over the years; including plenty of internet memes, the creation of new terms based on concerns over Christmas-related capitalism and even those who wonder if it is acceptable that they begin listening to Christmas songs in October.
The premature celebration of Christmas can certainly be a source of annoyance for some, plenty of whom even plan on celebrating Christmas themselves later in the year.
This festive friction has resulted in plenty of eye-rolls over the years from those who believe the holiday hype has become obsessive and devoid of any true meaning, while some experts make an argument in defense of early celebrators saying they are happier thanks to their connection to childhood nostalgia.
“I usually start celebrating when we put up our Christmas tree,” said Ryan Styles, a second-year concurrent education student who celebrates Christmas. “That’s the first ‘we’re getting into the Christmas spirit’ sort of time. We usually set up the Christmas tree either a week before December, or the week after December starts. So, around a month beforehand.”
However, while each person might start celebrating Christmas at a unique time, their opinion does not necessarily affect the timelines of others. “I tend to find that when the Christmas season starts, all of my buddies start wanting to get together,” said Styles. “I have this friend group that I’ve had for years and years, and we really start hanging out together around the Christmas season. So, that’s usually when the season starts to hit. We also like to gauge based on when the radio stations start changing their music, because that’s usually a good indicator as well.”
While a person’s decision to celebrate Christmas “early” is worth an entire discussion, the topic of Christmas sales and merchandise in stores as early as September is an entirely different beast. As “Christmas creep” settles in, many begin to wonder how ethical the potential market manipulation of Christmas-themed buyers really is.
“I think it’s both scummy, but smart at the same time,” said Styles. “When they get the sales out early, it’s good for the people that know what they want to give others. If you know somebody really well, then you know the stuff that they want all year-round. So, it’s smart for those who have an idea on their Christmas shopping; but it’s also kind of scummy in the way that it begins that stressful mood that goes around. I think it’s a double-edged sword, depending on who you ask.”
The “stressful mood” that Styles is talking about is not an uncommon sentiment. While Christmas time is typically associated with being merry and joyful, many struggle throughout the season to maintain feelings of relaxation.
High expectations for the holiday’s outcome, family stress and the festive workload may be contributors to the anguish some people feel when they see Christmas decorations out earlier than they might have expected.
While Styles recognizes the stress that an upcoming Christmas may have on some people, he does not believe this should prevent anyone from beginning celebrations as soon as they feel ready.
“People should have the right to choose when to celebrate,” said Styles. “Some people might say that I celebrate too early, by putting a tree up in the last week of November. As long as you can be respectful, as obviously not everybody is into the Christmas season… It causes a lot of stress for a lot of people. I think as long as you keep it in moderation until it’s in your face everywhere, I think people can celebrate whenever they want.”
Styles believes that the most important thing about this Christmas conundrum is that, regardless of the timing of your celebrations, respect and love should be shown to everyone, no matter what their situation may be. “Respect each other. Give a lot of love during the Christmas season. A lot of people need it. It’s been a year since COVID restrictions died down, and a lot of people are still suffering the effects. Take the time to give your neighbour a pat on the back. Let people know that they’re appreciated.”
The holiday season means something different to everyone, and this means that celebrations will begin at different times for different people. As this debate inevitably rages on for years to come, we must maintain a mutual respect and courtesy of others’ wishes to celebrate, wait for or entirely avoid the holiday season.