With Halloween’s festivities concluded, it’s Christmas time again. The radio is playing everyone’s favorite Christmas tunes, Santas are putting up fake trees in malls, stores are selling Christmas food and decorations and Christmas ads are popping up on television—the joyous season has begun!
Why, before we’ve even prepared for Thanksgiving break, are we being bombarded with Christmas? In a country where we now call Christmas break “Winter break” and insist on “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” we sure put a lot of focus on Christmas. According to an article published last year in Pennsylvania’s Republican Herald, Christmas displays are up in some stores as early as Labor Day.
The split between the commercialized and the religious Christmas is nothing new; Christians celebrating Christ’s birth are far from the only people celebrating Christmas. Still, there are those who don’t partake in Christmas, either religiously or commercially. Thanksgiving, a secular American holiday, is smothered in Christmas cheer.
I’m not suggesting that Thanksgiving is the purest of holidays—even though its spirit is one of sharing and being grateful, it relates to the European settlers who ultimately took this country from its Native Americans. Still, Thanksgiving has a place in our culture, and with an understanding of history, we can use it as both a time to remember our abuse of others and a time to be grateful for what we have.
Instead, Thanksgiving serves as the final roadblock on the path to Christmas, as Black Friday shows. With stores kicking off Christmas sales the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has consistently been the busiest shopping day of the year. I’m not particularly against the commercialization of Christmas; I’ve always viewed it as a secular holiday, and I celebrate it with my family as a non-Christian.
Gift-giving, time off from school and work and catching up with friends and family are all good themes for a holiday; I just don’t need them for two months. Thanksgiving can fill the same role in November, so why do the two holidays need to merge?
Maybe what Thanksgiving needs is some more commercial and cultural support. Thanksgiving doesn’t bring in nearly the same amount of revenue as Christmas and Halloween, nor does it have the songs and decorations that Christmas does. If Thanksgiving were given more of an identity, perhaps it would hold its place in November and fend off the Christmas incursion.
Alternatively, a fatter Thanksgiving could serve to only further blend Christmas and Halloween, creating an October to December super holiday with more chances of spilling over into neighboring months. The best solution might be to leave Thanksgiving alone and just tone down Christmas.
Regardless of what the best hypothetical solution is, it is doubtful much will change aside from Christmas growing further.
The twelve days of Christmas have given way to the two months of Christmas, and it may not be long before a September/October start to the Christmas season is a norm, not an outlier. We might as well replace autumn leaves with snow and start putting up stockings instead of pumpkins.