It has finally happened — a retailer celebrating Christmas in July has been accused of Christmas creep. Costco stores in Canada are in the news and under assault on social media for selling Christmas items in July.
Forget the fact that Christmas in July has been a retailer tradition for more than a century.
And forget the fact that the media by and large gives retailers everywhere a pass until August 1st before lobbing bombs about Christmas Creep. Forget the fact as well that the linked news source above has broken the 20-year tradition of first complaining about Pumpkin Spice season before complaining about Christmas Creep.
This is a huge leap from standard media protocol about Christmas. This crosses a whole new line.
Christmas creep is a season that runs from August 1st until about a week before Christmas. The purpose of the season is to complain about the presence of Christmas in public in any fashion. Christmas creep is far more than complaining about retailers. It now encompasses people who hang their lights too early, cities who parade Santa too soon, towns who light trees in November and even schools who practice Christmas songs at Thanksgiving.
From this point in the calendar year forward you can expect more and more whining about Christmas in the media. And even though you won’t find a single person in your circle of influence that knows or cares about any of this the media will still claim that people all over are talking about it.
They take their Christmas seriously in Australia. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne is warning against sending Christmas cards without the word “Christmas” in them. Phrases like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” are appearing all to often on official Christmas cards sent between governmental organizations.
Other local politicians are expressing support for the idea. Councillor John Kavanaugh is pushing for proper use of the word Christmas. “It lessens the message when you say Season’s Greetings,” he said. “I want to make sure that the message of a Happy Christmas is there.”
In fact, Kavanaugh feels so strongly about it he is putting forward a motion to require the use of “Happy Christmas” in all seasonal messages going forward on official organizational greetings.
The Lord Mayor backs the proposal. “If you’re sending a Christmas card it is not a season card, it is a Christmas card.” he said.
It should be noted that the hubbub over Christmas cards are coming after a contentious debate over Christmas decorations in this area of Melbourne known as Moreland. Money for Christmas decorations was reallocated for what they call “Moreland Celebrations”, a nod to the growing diversity of the area and a clear move away from the emphasis on Christmas.
Clearly, there is a battle over Christmas brewing in Melbourne.
They call the place Iceland for a reason. It’s cold, the weather is lousy and it’s covered in ice. It is also known for its sad absence of trees. For decades neighboring Norway has shipped a Christmas tree to Iceland for Christmas. But no more.
This week Norway told Iceland: no Christmas tree for you.
Officials say the tradition, which has lasted since 1951, ends because it’s not worth the cost or hassle. Local residents in Reykjavik however smell a rat. Norway tried to ax the tree two years ago and a large public outcry led to a reversal of the idea.
Of course, that 2014 event happened closer to Christmas. Norway has waited this year until the quiet month of July to drop the news this time. We’ll see if anyone is paying attention.
Complicating matters is another tradition held dear: Oslo’s gift of a Christmas tree to London, a tradition started as a “thank you” for allied support during World War II. That tradition, Oslo officials insist will continue.
Meanwhile, in tree-less Reykjavik, politicians there are saying the will find a tree somewhere. And gracious officials for Norway indicate they will crash the tree lighting party as always, even though the tree won’t be Norwegian. They’re not about to let a little thing like this get between them, you see.
This is the kind of thing that has a habit of coming back later during the year. We won’t be surprised to see more to this story as Christmas approaches.
Christmas trees are problematic in the southern hemisphere. While much of the world relishes a cold Christmas with snow, sleigh bells and frosted trees warm weather locales celebrate Christmas in the heat of summer. They tend to adopt the iconic traditions of Christmas the best they can — especially with Christmas trees.
Mexico and Brazil have famous larger-than-life Christmas trees made of metal structures housing millions of lights. In Australia they do much the same thing, turning the lighting of the Christmas tree into an event akin to anything done on the 4th of July in America with bbq’s, beach wear and fireworks.
But this has been a summer of discord over the topic of public Christmas trees in Australia. At issue are the thorny topics of cost and looks.
In Hobart they erected a tree that gained international attention for it’s progressive art form. As a tree it looked like anything but a celebration of Christmas. Now there are some calling for it to be replaced.
In the port city of Geelong the controversy over their expensive floating Christmas tree has raged for three seasons now. The massive tree was criticized for its cost even though the city planned huge community lighting and holiday events that drew massive crowds. Sparring political opponents took sides — and the anti-tree crowd has lost. An entire council of politicians lost their jobs over the issue and now embarrassed city officials are left to admit that, doggone it, the tree actually brought a 540% return on investment to the city. Oops.
Look for the Geelong tree to return this year with an all-new expensive star added to the top of the tree that is sure to once again be featured in international media.
We’ve been tipped off by Christmas fans in Australia of a new ad campaign by Virgin Mobile that features a grumpy, swearing Santa.
“Advertisers here are becoming more like their American counterparts every day!” one fan writes in an email. “Why do they have to show Father Christmas this way? It is not funny.”
In the ad — which touts a $100 Virgin Mobile gift card — Santa is seen lounging by the pool when he is interrupted by an elf who reminds him that he needs to send the cards as gifts for Christmas in July.
The commercial shows a very irritated Santa who tells the elves, “Pack my sack, the f*cking holiday is over”, and the elves cheer in celebration as he walks off grumbling.
The ad comes during a time when advertisers are under fire for depicting Santa Claus in a less than flattering light.
This commercial would most certainly be guilty of that: