By Shannon Watts, Staff Writer
The day after Halloween, I decided to treat myself to a trip to Copley Place. I wandered into Bath and Body Works, because who can resist the lure of seasonally scented, one-dollar hand sanitizers? Definitely not me. To my sheer horror, the entire store was covered in red and green wintery decorations. The Christmas themed candles and fragrance lines were already in place. Worst of all, Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” was blasting over the speakers. It was Nov. 1, and apparently, it was now Christmas.
Christmas season seems to be coming earlier and earlier every year. It’s not just the seasonal cheer and the decorations; it’s the sales and the music and the food and everything else. I may have been accused in the past of being a bit of a Scrooge, but I love Christmas. I do. But I only love it during its appropriate period, the day after Thanksgiving through midnight on Dec. 25. I like Thanksgiving, and I want it to have its time in the limelight.
I also know that if I listen to Christmas music and participate in Christmas-themed festivities starting in November, I’ll have no cheer left at all by the time December actually comes around. The Christmas season is special because it’s not forever; it’s a short period of anticipation leading up to the holiday, and then it’s over. I’d like to keep that period less than a month, but major stakeholders like big businesses have incentives to stretch Christmas out as long as possible.
The phenomenon of Christmas coming earlier every year is so culturally salient that it has a Wikipedia article. It’s the Christmas Creep, and apparently, it’s not going away any time soon. The common lore around the Christmas Creep says that Christmas starts earlier every year because it boosts stores’ sales in the last quarter. With wages that haven’t kept up with inflation in years and limited family budgets, retailers are also trying to capture holiday spending money before it’s spent elsewhere.
It’s all about competition; if one retailer starts their Black Friday sales the day after Halloween, so must any other retailer that wants to keep up. These factors drive a vicious cycle that seems to have worsened recently. Maybe we’re just more aware of it, or maybe more businesses feel the need to join the competition every Christmas season.
I highly doubt anyone actually wants to be out shopping with hundreds of other crazed people the day after (or the day of!) Thanksgiving, but because of the stagnant state of the economy and the relentless tactics of retailers, we do it anyways. Of course there are many other reasons to want economic growth, but if it means stopping this terrible scourge from advancing, count me in. Luckily for us, Massachusetts has remnants of Blue Laws that prevent big stores from being open on Thanksgiving itself. We have one day to defend against at least the commercial aspect of the Creep. But as business interests grow in power, so does the Christmas Creep. We may become powerless in the face of expanding Christmas commercialism, and just like Santa’s elves, we might be forced to start preparing for next Christmas on Dec. 26.