Is it Christmas yet?

ChristmasNo.

Simple, right?

And just in case you're ever wondering, you might find this website useful: www.isitchristmas.com

Here’s the thing: it’s November 1st. We just had Halloween. I love Halloween – we do the pumpkins, we trick or treat, we go to church to hear how pumpkins are a symbol of removing the seeds of doubt so God’s love can shine bright. The vicar loves to invent games where kids do gross things – today he had them all sticking their hands in tripe. Love it.

I love Bonfire Night, too. Again, we go to the church (we’re not big Christians, but honestly, in Lytham, EVERYTHING happens at church) and the vicar barbecues sausages, the kids make guys and we burn them on a HUGE fire, then all the kids run around like savages. Fab. 

There are so many brilliant things about this time of year, when you think about it. This year, we’ve been teaching Flea about conkers, and we’ve chatted about Remembrance Day and what that means. We’ve watched the trees turn, and taken long walks on the beach.

But I find it infuriating to see a Santa figure on the reception desk of the local swimming pool (yes, Poulton-le-Fylde YMCA, I am referring to you).

I think we all know that this is basically a phenomenon caused by retailers who want to extend the Christmas shopping frenzy and boost their profits as far as they’re able. That’s why the garden centre is already selling Christmas tree decorations, the shops are promoting Christmas toys, and we’ve got aisles of mince pies and Quality Street in Tesco.

By colluding in this, I think we’re robbing children of the chance to see the roots of our culture. There are real reasons and stories, be they pagan or Christian, behind winter festivals. And if Christmas starts in October or November, how can children possibly appreciate what it means?

I want Flea to understand what the advent is, why we put Holly and Mistletoe around the house, why we put up the tree and decorate it on Christmas Eve,  and take it down on twelfth night. I want her to understand that Christmas is a specific festival with a specific meaning and traditions – not an excuse to spend two months making a shopping list.

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

17 Comments

  1. Aly
    1st November 2009 / 9:11 pm

    My eldest is 7 and I have been telling him from a Pagan point of view what the Celtic festivals mean as they have been intergrated into the Christian religion.Although both intertwine, I do tell it from a non-religious view as I want him to understand the meaning behind them, particularly Easter/Eostre and Christmas/Yule.I have over the years done various crafts building up to Christmas as I want all my children to understand the main thing about Christmas/Yule is that families are important and being together when the world outside in the depth of Winter.Last year year I asked him what Christmas meant to him and the first thing he said was,”Family”.It was a very proud momment for me as even with all the commercial aspect of Christmas, even at 6 years old, he was able to tell understand that.

  2. 1st November 2009 / 10:14 pm

    I have this thing that if I see Christmas before my Birthday in October then retailers are in a bad bad way. As an economic barometer I have yet to be proved wrong! This year Xmas was being promoted on my Birthday…

  3. 1st November 2009 / 11:02 pm

    Oh brother. I couldn’t agree with you more.
    I hate hate hate that Christmas starts in October (shoppers in my local Tesco were positively swarming around the Christmas display of mince pies and wrapping paper).
    I love Christmas. I love teaching my children that receiving is fun but giving is so much more fun. That it’s about being with family and reaching out to people and not just about want want want. Like you say, that there is a reason we do all these things and not just so they can flick through the Argos catalogue and demand Santa take out an overdraft to afford their mountain of presents.

  4. 1st November 2009 / 11:02 pm

    Oh god yes yes. I totally agree. If I had my way all mention of Christmas would be banned until December 1st. The fact that it seems to have overlapped with Halloween this year is complete and utter madness. I work to a Celtic pagan calender of festivals and celebrations. That means one every 6 weeks of so. Each different, each special, and each with their own meanings and traditions. Each one gives significance to the time of year it occurs in, in correspondence with the seasons and our cultural history. The fact that Christmas is dominating more and more of the year is a great demonstration of our society being out of balance and the way in which consumerism has a choke-hold on our society – leaves me feeling less and less enthused about the whole deal to be honest… bah humbug.

  5. 1st November 2009 / 11:22 pm

    I love Christmas and the earlier the better for me I’m afraid!! However, I do want to teach the children the meaning of Xmas and I’ve always made sure that we tell them that it isn’t all about getting presents. I like for them to give up an old toy at Christmas to give to charity so they realise that not everyone has tons of new plastic once a year. But I still adore Christmas and spoil them rotten…;)

  6. 2nd November 2009 / 10:17 am

    When I took Piaf to France recently
    http://papaetpiaf.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/je-critique/
    I tried to buy the next few greetings cards I would need in french – next birthday, Francophone friends’ birthdays, and, of course, Xmas.
    I looked and looked around the shop but couldn’t find Xmas.
    “Do you have Xmas cards yet?” I asked.
    The assistant just looked at me like I was deranged.
    “Not till December,” she said. “Ah yes,” I thought. “Good point.”

  7. 2nd November 2009 / 10:22 am

    Oh yes. absolutely, Sally. I’d never heard of that pumpkin symbolism before – it’s a lovely idea. Around here, the churchy types tend to ignore Hallowe’en, regarding it as something anti-christian, which I find slightly baffling when they’re usually quite happy to join in Bonfire Night celebrations, the symbolism of which I find far more worrying. Love carving pumpkins. We had a sort of tall, oval one this year which we made into a kind of representation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

  8. 2nd November 2009 / 12:36 pm

    You are absolutely right. Christmas is hard to ignore with all the decorations in shops already, but I’m doing my best too, and I’m not even prepared to have a discussion with IJ about Christmas presents yet. I want her to understand and value the event nearer the time.
    It is ofcourse all led by the retail sector as they make ore money at this time of year than at any other. Having worked in retail the Christmas planning for some companies starts as early as May. All very annoying really, especially when you have kids,

  9. Chris T
    2nd November 2009 / 12:49 pm

    As a related aside, are we evil parents if we don’t buy into the Father Christmas myth on our children’s behalf?
    Very much unconvinced that I want to promote the idea of some fat dude with a beard delivering all of the world’s presents having flown around the world in a sleigh – following on from a harrowing 4 to 6 weeks spent simultaneously hanging out in thousands of different shoppping centres.
    Or am I just a miserable git who could scar his children’s lives forever and make them social lepers when they start at school?

  10. Insomniac Mummy
    2nd November 2009 / 2:16 pm

    I love this whole time of year, Halloween, Bonfire Night, then Advent and the run up to Christmas.
    I like to feel nostalgic and not forced into feeling festive far too early. Somehow by the time Christmas Day arrives I feel like it’s passed me by.
    We do like to put our tree up in early December though. It’s a family tradition that we carry on.
    I’ve already done most of the kids Christmas shopping online. I hate going to shopping centres at the best of times but in the run up to Chritmas I have to avoid them or risk spontaneously combusting.

  11. 2nd November 2009 / 6:50 pm

    Yes, yes, yes.

  12. 2nd November 2009 / 10:45 pm

    And yes and yes and yes again.

  13. 3rd November 2009 / 1:55 am

    Yes it’s all about getting us to spend more, and it’s nothing new. In the US, the Christmas shopping season is an even bigger deal for retailers than it is here. It begins with the sales the day after Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November. In 1939, President Roosevelt decided to move Thanksgiving forward a week, purely to extend the shopping season by a week and give struggling retailers (this was in the aftermath of the Great Depression) more opportunity to make money.

  14. 3rd November 2009 / 2:24 pm

    I hadn’t really thought about it properly until now, but I realised this is exactly what I had been feeling. Well put.

  15. Peggy@ Perfectly Happy Mum
    3rd November 2009 / 4:40 pm

    With you all the way on that one. I have been raised a catholic and although I am not a big church goer, there are some traditions that I really want to pass on to my children. I want them to live the magic of Christmas and the anticipation but not starting as early as now! I want them to know how it originated and that it is more than just shinny wrapping paper and a big red bearded man at every corner of our town!

  16. 3rd November 2009 / 8:14 pm

    I’m afraid I love this time of year myself from Halloween all the way up to New Year’s! I’m wondering if it’s too early to bring out the Christmas music! Sorry! *ducking*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge