Based on my friends’ Snapchats, the last moments before the Christmas season ended the night of Halloween. Everyone was still getting into their Halloween candy when suddenly, the clock struck midnight — and each Snapchat story was filled with carols as my friends traded jack-o’-lanterns for Santa hats.
For many, celebrating Christmas this early ruins the sanctity of the holiday. I hear people every year groan over holiday cheer unless it’s within the strict confines of December.
But Christmas is a holiday much better observed when spread out. The roughly monthlong period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is just not enough time to properly celebrate — and not just because Christmas music is the greatest genre ever.
The Christmas holiday simply gushes happiness wherever it’s spread, no matter if in November or December. Just think of how many viral YouTube videos show holiday-inspired random acts of kindness. A GuideStar survey found that 50.5 percent of charities receive the majority of their contributions during the holiday months — and if the holiday season were even longer, people might be inspired to give even more.
Clearly, corporate America already gets it. SiriusXM started playing Christmas music Nov. 1, and Starbucks transitioned to their seasonal menu the same day. Expanding the dates these seasonal offerings are available allows customers more time to enjoy their favorite products. And it’s a win-win for consumers and corporations — at Starbucks, a strong holiday season boosts sales by more than 10 percent, and a longer holiday season means people can enjoy twice as many peppermint mochas.
Even if you don’t like peppermint or hot chocolate, this could also mean a more inclusive holiday season. For example, Starbucks receives public criticism for their holiday cups seemingly every year. Last year’s controversy was even enough to spark national interest this year in alleged leaked photos of the 2017 holiday cups. Most of the controversy centered on the fact that the cups removed religious symbols of Christmas in favor of a “holiday spirit” — something many would claim is part of a larger “war on Christmas.”
But if the holiday season were longer, there wouldn’t need to be any “war on Christmas.” Rather than try to remove all religion from the holiday season, having a longer time to celebrate could invite people from all faiths to celebrate openly in the months preceding Christmas.
The “Christmas spirit” today has expanded to include a whole range of non-religious traditions that are considered equally as important to the cheer as the story of Jesus’ birth — so it might be better to call it the holiday season. By celebrating the season longer, we could give other religious holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa their deserved cultural respect.
Some people argue celebrating Christmas early means the population is skipping over the Thanksgiving holiday, an important time to spend with family and acknowledge American history.
And while Thanksgiving certainly is special, it doesn’t have as rich a tradition that we can celebrate. There’s little to no exclusive Thanksgiving music, no tradition of gift-giving and it certainly isn’t a cross-cultural holiday. Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are all internationally celebrated holidays that deserve more than a mere month of recognition.
And if you have the choice between celebrating and not celebrating, why wouldn’t you celebrate? ’Tis a fantastic season, and we should spread it out as long as possible. There are plenty of holiday activities that could be enjoyed over two months, particularly if you’re willing to engage with other forms of holiday celebration.
But many just celebrate the holiday season for religious reasons — and if that’s the case, a longer holiday season would still be better. By having two months to reflect and consider the importance of Dec. 25 in Christianity, followers of Christ would be encouraged to connect with the event in an even deeper way. And if many really do believe there’s a “war on Christmas,” extending the holiday season would only help fight against it.
And if you’re a native Pittsburgher wistfully dreaming of a white Christmas, you should start celebrating as early as possible. Some years it’s snowy on Halloween yet raining by Christmas — all we know is the weather is unpredictable here. If we celebrate the holiday season longer, at least here in Pittsburgh, maybe we’ll have the chance to finally experience what we’ve all been dreaming about.