Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christmas in July

As I'm going to be away on the 25 of July, I thought I would introduce this a little early. Christmas in July is an event that has been going on for a number of years now and there are many stories about its origin. I've done a little research and found some plausible explanations for this semi-holiday. Here are some ideas:

In Western cultureChristmas occurs in December. Christmas is a Christian holy day that commemorates the birth of Jesus and is, in general, a time of gift-giving and holiday cheer. Christmas in July celebrations may be held in July to provide a second joyful celebration in the year.In the southern hemisphere, Christmas in July is the name given to social events with a winter Christmas theme, as July is generally the coldest month of the year.In the northern hemisphere during the summer months the weather becomes increasingly warm and many people crave the atmosphere of cooler temperatures, gift giving and holiday spirit. To satisfy this, some people throw parties during the month of July that mimic the holiday of Christmas. The features of Christmas in July include Santa Claus,ice cream and other cold foods and gifts. Nightclubs often host parties open to the public.

In many western countries, July has a minor number of marketing opportunities. In the United States and Canada, there are no national holidays between the first week of July (Canada Day on July 1 in Canada and the Fourth of July in the United States) and Labor day, leaving two months with no holidays. Some provinces in Canada have a civic holiday in August, but those holidays are not ones where gifts are exchanged between loved ones. Therefore, to justify sales, shops (such as Leon's in Canada) will sometimes announce a "Christmas in July" sale.

Scandinavian languages such as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish translate the word Christmas as Jul (literally, Yule), which happens to be the abbreviation for July in English. When you translate "Christmas in July" to Swedish you get "Jul i Juli".

Werther, an 1892 opera with libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann, had an English translation published in 1894 by Elizabeth Beall Ginty. In the story, a group of children rehearses a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds, "When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season." It is a translation of the French, "vouz chantez Noël en juillet... c'est s'y prendre à l'avance." This opera is based on Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. Christmas features in the book, but July does not.

The earliest known occasion to make the phrase Christmas in July literal was in July 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl's summer camp in North Carolina, which celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts, and a visit by Santa Claus. In 1935, the National Recreation Association's journal Recreation described what a Christmas in July was like at a girl's camp, writing that "all mystery and wonder surround this annual event."

The term, if not the exact concept, was given national attention with the release of the movie comedy Christmas in July in 1940, written and directed by Preston Sturges. In the story, a man is fooled into believing he has won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys presents for family, friends and neighbors, and proposes marriage to his girlfriend.

In 1942, the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., celebrated Christmas in July with carols and the sermon "Christmas Presents in July". They repeated it in 1943, with a Christmas tree covered with donations. The pastor explained that the special service was patterned after a program held each summer at his former church in Philadelphia, when the congregation would present Christmas gifts early to give ample time for their distribution to missions worldwide. It became an annual event, and in 1946 the service began to be broadcast over local radio.

The U.S. Post Office and U.S. Army and Navy officials, in conjunction with the American advertising and greeting card industries, threw a Christmas in July luncheon in New York in 1944 to promote an Early Christmas Mailing Campaign for service men and women overseas during World War II. The luncheon was repeated in 1945.

American advertisers began using "Christmas in July" themes in print for summertime sales as early as 1950.

From empirical observation in the Midwest of the United States, many times the birthdays of "Christmas kids" (children born around Christmas) are celebrated in July, perhaps to avoid doubling up on gifts from birthdays and Christmas .One thing I've notice as well. During the summer months most television series are in reruns. July seems to be the time the Christmas episodes air, given it's about 8 weeks (or so) after the beginning of the season. That's always a pleasant surprise for me. Regardless of the show I'll watch a Christmas episode.

Regardless of your traditions, celebration the season knowing that the more "traditional" season of Christmas is less than five months away. Happy Holidays!

Source: Wikipedia

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