Merry Christmas!

Well almost–there are only 6 months more to go.  But wait–it really is time to celebrate Christmas–in July.

Some may wonder if the retailers have finally succeeded in bringing Christmas earlier and earlier to the point of absolute madness or could there be another reason for all this celebration?

Certainly there is some truth in using Christmas in July to create sales opportunities especially since there are no real holidays after Independence Day and before Labor Day.  Creating a holiday in between is a great way to stir up sales–but retailers aren’t really to blame for starting this second Christmas celebration.

Before we look into its celebration, it is interesting to note that the first known recorded mention of Christmas in July was in the opera, “Werther”, written in 1892.   In the story children practicing a Christmas song were admonished:  “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”  Guess even back then no one really wanted to see Christmas come before its time.

  • The first recollected celebration of Christmas in July happened in 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl’s summer camp in North Carolina, where it was decided to hold a Christmas party at their camp-out complete with a Christmas tree, presents, and a visit from St. Nick.  In 1935 the National Recreation Association’s magazine wrote “all mystery and wonder surround this annual event”.
  • Of course what better way to popularize something than through the movies?  The next known boost to this holiday was through the 1940 movie “Christmas in July”.
  • Perhaps the most noble early celebration of Christmas in July comes in 1942 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.  The pastor, following a practice from a former church he had attended in Philadelphia, collected gifts and donations early in order to distribute to missions worldwide in time for Christmas.  Things didn’t move quite as quickly back then as they do now.
  • A Christmas campaign was instituted in July 1944 by the U.S. Post Office and the U.S. Army and Navy in conjunction with the American greeting card and advertising industries.  A luncheon was held in July in New York to encourage early mailing for service men and women stationed overseas to assure the mail would reach them by Christmas.  One must imagine that this most surely lent itself to a frenzy of Christmas shopping in July.  A true retailer’s dream come true.  Is it any wonder then that Christmas in July is something retailers quickly took a liking to?
  • By the 1950s Christmas in July sales were commonplace in the U.S.  It was a great way for the retailers to clear out last season’s merchandise in preparation for the coming season.  Christmas in July was officially here to stay.
  • There remains another Christmas in July origin (also known as Yulefest or Yuletide) which is centered around the thought that countries in the southern hemisphere who have their winter during this month want to celebrate Christmas during the cooler season just like their northern hemisphere counterparts do.  As July is typically the coldest month, social gatherings during the winter easily led to festivities reminiscent of Christmas.  In Australia, Christmas in July has become a big event with stores advertising just as if it were indeed Christmas and people decorating their homes and gathering to celebrate as well.  It is believed to have originated with (or at least promoted by) an Irish group who upon seeing snow in July while visiting Sydney’s Blue Mountains thought it perfect for celebrating Christmas.

Whether or not you like the idea of celebrating Christmas twice–Christmas in July is here to stay.  In the end–a little Christmas taken in its true spirit is something we all could do with having a little more of.

Merry Christmas!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  ~ an Old Irish Blessing