After the halloween hooley comes the christmas creep

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I thought Halloween was sold to us by retailers as a very big affair this year.

As I walked down a supermarket aisle on October 31 I was astounded at the amount of creepy house decorations and spooky stuff available.

Christmas decorations going up this week  in Victoria Square Belfast

Christmas decorations going up this week in Victoria Square Belfast

Halloween was never like this when I was growing up. Back then, our spooky celebrations consisted of monkey nuts, an apple tart with a five pence piece hidden inside (health and safety zealots would never allow this now) and a spot of apple dunking.

What astounded me even more was walking down the same supermarket aisle the very next day and finding myself in the midst of all things Christmas. Surely this couldn’t be right, I asked myself? It was only November 1! I have never before recalled Halloween being replaced by Christmas overnight.

As I perused the cards, wrapping paper, calendars and assorted gifts, I felt slight panic beginning to rise deep within my stomach. I suddenly found myself wondering if perhaps the powers that be had decided Christmas was being brought forward and I hadn’t got the memo.

Continuing in this startling vein, my son returned to school on Monday morning after the half term break and came home that afternoon with a Christmas card! When he handed me the envelope I assumed it was a birthday invitation. I went into momentary shock when my eyes lit on the snowflake embossed card. The thought: what on earth is going on crossed my mind? Why had Halloween suddenly given way to the festive season?

For the first time ever a Christmas card was sitting on my mantelpiece on November 2. The mother who had sent it to my son on her daughter’s behalf was obviously being hyper-organised and had decided to get her Christmas cards out of the way. Another festive activity ticked off her to-do list no doubt. This didn’t feel right; it was too soon to be receiving Merry Christmas wishes.

Admittedly I have been getting catalogues through the post since August from retailers trying to entice me into starting my Christmas shopping early. These magazines have been consigned straight to the bin over the past months. However, when two brochures arrived on my doormat yesterday, and I am now bordering on last-minute-shopping mentality because of the premature Christmas atmosphere in shops, I found myself perusing these publications with interest and frankly, alarm!

When the front cover proclaimed ‘Shop for the Unusual’ it wasn’t wrong. These publications held such seductive delights as spreadable beer, light-up chopsticks, a handy book assisting in how to swear around the world and in my opinion, the piece de resistance, flatulence underwear! These pants were advertised with a picture of a girl standing in her underwear, pushing her bottom into a man’s face as he smiled in delight, thus demonstrating her charcoal infused underwear saved his nostrils from any undesirable odours emanating from her flatulent derriere. Clearly romance is not dead, though I felt the magic of Christmas dissipating before it even starts.

In the US this premature arrival of Yuletide is a merchandising phenomenon known as the Christmas creep. The reason behind retailers making Christmas creep up early on us is to of course lengthen their selling time for seasonal goods in order to maximize their profits. The longer the preamble to Christmas, the more time we have to spend our hard-earned coffers. We also have the relatively new phenomenon of Black Friday which occurs this year on November 27. This is the biggest shopping day of the year when retailers offer drastic deals to kick start the Christmas shopping season. £1.07bn is predicted to be spent on Black Friday this month.

Since the year 2000 it’s been accepted in America that the Christmas creep starts the day after Halloween.

According to a study which looked into festive related Google searches for terms such as ‘presents,’ ‘elf’ and ‘Santa Claus’, we are beginning to think about Christmas much earlier in the year than we did in years gone by. Research revealed that back in 2007 our minds didn’t turn to Yuletide until November 11. In 2008 we began Christmas related internet searches around October 12, however, last year it was found we were looking ahead to Christmas as early as August 25!

We often say in jest that Christmas is getting earlier every year and this statistical research proves that’s true. It appears the 12 days of Christmas is fast becoming the twelve weeks of Christmas!