Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Yuletide in August

My sister told me the other day that she heard Christmas carols while at WalMart. It seems to me that each year stores want to roll out Yuletide cheer earlier and earlier. I know that WalMart had their Christmas decorations out as early as August, although at that point they were in an out of the way part of the store. And, of course, Holiday themed commercials are already running on television.

Of course, I can realise the desire of stores to put out the Yuletide decorations they have for sale before December. After all, I can understand that the average person, myself included, might wish to buy their decorations well before the Holidays arrive. After all, not many people care to wait until the last minute. But it seems to me that August is a bit too early. As for Christmas carols playing in stores and Holiday themed commercials running on television in mid-November, that just seems far too early to me for that kind of thing.

As I see it, displaying Christmas goods too early and, worse yet, playing Christmas carols and so on too early has at least three detrimental effects on our winter celebrations. First, it seems to me to some degree Thanksgiving could lose its own character. I can remember growing up that Thanksgiving meant the Macy's Parade, a huge turkey dinner, and giving thanks for what we have. As the years have gone by, however, it has simply become more and more the start of the "Holiday shopping season." If this trend continues, I can see Thanksgiving ceasing to be a holiday of its own and becoming merely an extension of the Yuletide. Second, part of what make the Yuletide special to me is that it only comes one time a year. Indeed, traditionally it was celebrated for 12 days--from the evening of December 24 to the evening of January 6. The Holidays were then a special time of year, little less than two weeks, to which one could look forward. With stores putting out their Christmas gear and playing carols earlier and earlier, the Yuletide seems to be in danger of losing that special quality it has. Third, I have heard a lot of people complaining the past several years of being sick of Christmas by December 15! While I cannot ever say that I have ever been sick of Yule, I can understand their feelings. The past several years the average person has been bombarded with Yuletide imagery and Yuletide sounds at least since November 1. It is perhaps natural if some people then grow weary of the holiday before it even arrives!

Loving Yule as I do, I wish that the stores would cease celebrating the holiday two months before it has even gotten here. I think it would please most people if they did not put out their Yuletide wares until after November 1 and they did not play Yuletide songs until after December 1. I also think that the various television outlets should hold off on any Holiday themed commercials until after December 1. I think this would please most people. It would preserve the identity of Thanksgiving as a holiday of its own and it would help preserve the specialness of the Holiday season. I can't see anyone saying that they are sick of Christmas then.

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