Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Christmas is a time of the year when children and adults alike can give in to the merrier side of themselves. From the twinkling multi-coloured lights, to the cinnamon-scented drinks, candles and crafts, Christmas is delightfully all-consuming for those few weeks in December. As a person who starts thinking about Christmas in July, I more than anyone understand how joyous it can be to just give in and let the festive season take over. By December 8th my house resembles Santa’s work-shop more than a home for non-elven people. I usually have all my presents bought, the tree decorated and several Christmas jumpers neatly folded in a drawer, just waiting to be worn. But even I draw the line at advertising Christmas ware in October. Already shops such as Dealz, Tesco and Tiger are stocking Christmas items. Many have already moved aside the products for Halloween, in order to give the Christmas gear a more prominent spot. Bear in mind we are only in mid-October, Halloween hasn’t even happened yet and three weeks from now, it would still be a little early to start stocking Christmas decorations.
In part, I understand. This year has hardly been typical and retailers are nervous that seasonal sales will be heavily affected by the ongoing pandemic. However, this idea of stocking Christmas items in October is not unique to 2020. Shops have always showcased seasonal products early, with Easter eggs appearing in shops months in advance and Valentines Day adverts starting sometimes right after Christmas. Businesses have the right to market products and holidays as they see fit, however, I feel that the early advertising of Christmas takes some of the fun out of the season and here is why.
My main issue with the premature marketing of Christmas has to be its role in desensitising people. Christmas is one day a year, but there is an entire procedure and routine built into the preceding weeks. We buy presents for family and friends, we go to festive markets, we spend time with people we see only a few times a year and we eat, my god do we ever eat. All of this activity is bundled into just a few weeks, because if we behaved like that all the time we would be a wholly un-productive society. Also by only celebrating like this once a year, it is far more special. When the lights go up and the decorations come out from the press under the stairs it is a deviation from normal life. So when you walk into a food shop in the first week of October and see selection boxes and candy canes you might feel that glowy excitement, but by the time December rolls around, and when you should actually begin getting into the festive mood, you’re not really going to care. Why would you? By this point, shops have been stocked to the brim with tinsel, lights and decorations for almost two months. For even the most die-hard of Christmas fans, the over-exposure of all things Christmas, really does take some of the wonder out of it.
It used to be mid-to-late November that people started to Christmas shop. Whether you were on the hunt for new baubles, lights or a gift, seasonal advertising and displays in shops could be the exact inspiration you needed. But now, when festive marketing campaigns and Christmas ware are everywhere you go and it is only October, it can make you feel like you have to make purchases, lest all the popular items be snatched up. It is not uncommon to need new lights in early December and find the stock heavily depleted and sometimes not there at all. It is a clever ploy by retailers to create this illusion that Christmas stock in October is in high demand and if you don’t buy products now, well best of luck come December. The reality is, if shops chose to sell festive products during the appropriate seasons, there would be more than enough interest without applying pressure on people to stockpile months in advance. This is an issue that has become relevant in more ways than one, considering the problems surrounding the hoarding of items during the previous Covid-19 lockdown. By encouraging panic buying, the process of shopping and buying gifts becomes more of a chore and takes a lot of the fun out of it.
For all the children out there, when you think of Christmas, of course the big jolly red fella comes to mind. A visit from Santa is one of the more exciting aspects of Christmas. The problems arise when the increased and early advertising of Christmas applies pressure on Santa, making his job a lot more difficult. Typically he waits until November, assesses what each child wants and makes his decision on what to give them. But by stocking the shelves early, children tend to drastically change their mind on what they would like over the course of nearly three months. In October and early November they are exposed to marketing saturated with Christmas content, making it harder for Santa to pick the right present for them. This can lead to a lot of children and their parents being confused or upset on Christmas morning when a child opens a gift they weren’t expecting or don’t really want. By keeping Christmas advertising within the festive season, children won’t be over-exposed and can make Santa’s job that bit easier.
Now this is an important issue and was lightly touched upon earlier. The modus operandi in retail now, seems to be to get festive products in as quickly as possible and sell them as quickly as possible. Garden centers in particular are notorious for stocking beautiful Christmas decorations extremely early and marking up the prices. What frequently happens is, as stock tends to go early, people are given two options. Either buy what you need now at hefty prices, or wait till the products come down in price but face the very likely chance that you won’t get what you need. Because as previously noted, by December, when you start dragging boxes out from under the stairs or down from the attic and you notice the lights have seen their last Christmas, most of the decent products have already been sold. Often it can make an expensive time of the year simply unaffordable.
All in all, the early advertising of Christmas in October can take some of the buzz out of the festive period. But it is worth noting, in a year where nothing has gone to plan and the days are a little darker, maybe tinsel and some lights are exactly what we need. If blasting ‘Deck the Halls’ and prancing around your living room with your expensive new decoration in hand lights up your day, then go for it. Just don’t let the marketing companies take the fun and good will out of what is meant to be a joyous season.
If you are interested here are some links to more seasonal content