Kevin Dooley on Flickr via Creative Commons

‘Tis the Season: how early is too early for Christmas?

By

Deputy Features Editor

During a quiet night in this week, I finally decided the time had come. I knew once I made the decision, there’d be no going back. With baited breath, I opened up Spotify, and clicked play on my Christmas playlist, which had not seen the light of day for eleven months. I ended up spending a pleasant half an hour tidying my room to the sound of Mariah Carey, Band Aid, Wham!, the Pogues and Kirsty McColl. It was mid-November, and, as much as it scared me, I had caved to the inevitability of Christmas.

I can already sense the quiet tutting from devotees of the ‘no Christmas until December the first’ rule. In a culture where Harrods’ Christmas shop displays have been in place for weeks already and Tesco started selling their festive sandwiches as soon as Halloween was over, we are invited to get into a holiday mood – and with it start reaching into our tinsel-lined pockets – earlier and earlier every year. While I was writing this, Spotify played a supermarket advert featuring the words “…and before you ask, yes, you can eat Christmas pudding in November!”. Like it or not, Christmas has arrived and it’s not going away until every cracker has been pulled and the last mince pie is gone from the box.

like it or not, Christmas has arrived and it’s not going away

Some people thrive on this culture of celebration, and I’m all for making the most of it by extending the festive mood as far into November as possible, but I think we can all agree that only on the first of December is the full-on Christmas-jumper-and-fairy-lights-thing allowed. I’m always shocked by people who don’t get their trees up until a week before Christmas, but once December hits, Christmas culture becomes so inescapable that it makes very little difference. It’s easy to react against this sudden rush towards candy canes and fir trees, especially when the calendar points out that it’s still technically autumn, and it’s even more frustrating when it seems to get more intense every year; the culture around Christmas adverts alone is almost a whole industry in itself nowadays.

once December hits, Christmas culture becomes inescapable

Of course, it isn’t just about how early you’re allowed to start watching Polar Express or wearing those reindeer antlers you keep in the back wardrobe – Christmas comes with a sleigh-load of preparation, tasks and admin, from writing cards and buying presents to organising parties and events, and many of these things have to be done before December. Many people sort out this less celebratory side very early on, either out of a need to stay organised or to spread the cost over a few more weeks, while others go in for that last-minute rush of sorting everything as late as possible, or take advantage of huge Black Friday sales. Some of us are already so stressed that thinking about Christmas can just be another source of worry; even as ‘Stop the Cavalry’ drifts from my laptop speaker, I confess that the thought of a trip into town next week to buy gifts for my friends at home makes that formative essay suddenly look a lot more appealing.

Regardless of where you stand on the festive rush, if you’ve already booked that trip to the Christmas markets or confess yourself to be a total Grinch, one fact remains: retail and the media would have us buying stocking-fillers as soon as the Jack-O-Lanterns have been disposed of. It’s easy to let this kind of pressure get to us, especially in the already hectic lifestyle of a student, but it’s important to step back and remember that, above all else, all the time and effort we take over this time of year is in the name of enjoying ourselves, whether that be a family trip to evensong, a society-wide Secret Santa, a party or just window-shopping with friends. Try not to let the pressure of organising Christmas get in the way of the end result – a great time with people you care about. So pour yourself some mulled wine, find a copy of Now That’s What I Call Christmas, and take time to enjoy the advantages of the festivities starting early rather than getting yourself down about the stress it might entail.

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley on Flickr via Creative Commons

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