I hope I’m not echoing the Grinch – but Christmas? In September? That’s way too early.
But I do love the buzz Christmas brings. The glittery lights, the way cafés advertise their new and improved ‘festive flavours’ filled with warming spices like gingerbread and pumpkin.
Even last year, as Covid-19 dampened any sense of joy, we hit back with homier celebrations, and brighter Christmas lights, hanging them up just that bit longer as suggested by the Prime Minister. It’s undeniable, Christmas makes people happier.
But what felt like a cute, cosy month brimming with good tidings and joy, suddenly stretched into a four-month stint – consuming other national holidays like Halloween and Bonfire Night.
This extension appeared out of nowhere – one year Christmas is celebrated from mid-November to New Year’s Eve and the next, we’re bombarded with Christmas carols in the middle of September! I love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as much as the next person, but maybe not if it’s blasting everywhere for four months!
For some a four-month run-up to the festive season is steeped in tradition. In the Philippines Christmas celebrations start on 1 September. Known as the Ber months (due to the four months ending in ber), the countdown ends with midnight mass, followed by a feast called Noche Buena, which translates to Good Night.
But in Britain, September marks the start of autumn and is often laced with occasional flashbacks of starting school after a relaxing summer, and a sudden realisation the days are becoming shorter. But the main reason I think Christmas starts too early?
My experience in retail.
Mid-September had me rummaging through Christmas stock, draping tinsel around plastic Christmas trees and recommending quirky kitsch to stuff in stockings. It’s the busiest time of year, where stores need that extra help. Some staff are holiday workers, because between now and January, we have a few more national holidays.
October holds Halloween, where cookies suddenly become an eerie green, and enormous spiders start creeping onto store windows (while the Christmas stock and trees are ominously standing in the stock room, waiting to be released). Trick or treat encourages communities to become vigilant of vicious ‘trickers’, houses are adorned with pumpkins carved into unnatural smiles and horror films dominate the silver screens.
Then, less than a week later, the sky lights up with the patterns of stars bursting into reds, purples and blues. Massive bonfires flitter against the bitter night air and once again – except for last year – we see communities banding together in celebration of Guy Fawkes not setting fire to parliament.
Now, another date many Brits look forward to is Black Friday, a day devoted to shopping and snapping up the best deals, in November. And for many it’s a chance to bag some bargains to give as Christmas gifts.
I love Christmas and its golden moments. I also understand a grand holiday needs a long preparation. But this constant, all-consuming, sense of anticipation that Christmas is just around the corner is too much. We run the risk of festive fatigue - and by the time December 25 arrives it’ll be a case of ho ho no.
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