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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Does Christmas start too early?
There are now just under two months until Christmas and shops are well stocked up for the coming spending spree.

Some people feel the long run-up to the festive season means that Christmas is much less special when it finally arrives.

Others feel there is too much commercial pressure to buy presents and an emphasis on consuming lots of food and drink.

But many of us enjoy having the special Christmas feeling around for longer and appreciate the extra planning time.

Do you think Christmas starts too early? Or do you enjoy a longer festive season? Has Christmas become too commercial?

Jason Kynes from the UK suggested this Talking Point.
As shops seem to think it's the festive period already, I think it would be good to discuss whether people think that decorations are put up too early in shops and do they also think that shops are taking the celebration out of Christmas by starting it all too early, making the period feel less special.

To send in your Talking Point suggestions, Click here.

HAVE YOUR SAY I don't think Xmas starts too early at all, in fact I just can't get enough of that great Slade song which should be played more often in all major department stores and pubs. What's wrong with everyone? The earlier Christmas is celebrated the longer we can party!
A. Hudson, UK

I don't know, the "does Christmas start too early?" season seems to get earlier every year....
Guy Chapman, UK


Who buys mince pies in August?

JG, UK
My local supermarket had mince pies on the shelves at the end of August. I went shopping a couple of weeks ago and had to endure Christmas Carols as background music. Why??? Who buys mince pies in August???
JG, UK

I think it's up to each individual or family to decide when to begin their pre-Christmas activities. The fact that the commercial work-up towards Christmas starts in Autumn doesn't compel us to participate: it just gives us a longer time-frame in which to get ourselves organised. Christmas is really for children and kids seem to enjoy the anticipation as much as they enjoy the event. You'll never hear a child complain about Christmas starting too early! So let's just grin and bear it, and not detract from their extended enjoyment!
Chris B, England

I don't care how early it starts, so long as someone destroys all copies of that dreadful, ubiquitous Slade Christmas song. Please, please, can the shops stop playing it? It drives me nuts!
David Hazel, UK

Yes, it does start too early, almost making one wonder why the word "Christ" is in the name. Perhaps they should replace "Christmas" with "Commercemas" as "commerce" is all the event seems to be about these days.
Mark, UK

I think that for a while in the late 80's/early 90's, some shops were starting their Christmas displays in mid-September - even earlier than they do now. Christmas is very over-hyped. I'm much more in favour of the pagan calendar, which has a festival every 6-7 weeks (8 in total). That way, no single festival becomes too big.
Ian, England


This year in particular, it is not too soon to start focusing on Christmas

Susan, USA formerly UK
This year in particular, it is not too soon to start focusing on Christmas. Firstly our retailers need as much lead time as possible to get consumers to spend. Secondly with all the doom and gloom about since September, we need something cheery. Thirdly, and this is a bit of a stretch, perhaps it will engender some early Christmas spirit. Looking through others comments though, a bit of a vain hope. Just remember, it's "baby in the manger", not "dog in the manger" at this time of year!
Susan, USA formerly UK

Christmas definitely starts too early. When I was a child, the season began after Thanksgiving (the last Thursday in November in the US). Now Halloween and Christmas items grace the stores together. I just saw a display of a witch and a Santa sitting side by side!
Jane Rubino, US

I think the premature and compulsory immersion into the festive season does detract from the "special" feeling I enjoy at Christmas time. There are plenty of online and specialty stores for those who want to get their Christmas shopping done early. For the rest of us, please let us enjoy the other holidays first. (Halloween, Firework night, Thanksgiving in USA). Another pet peeve, in the USA especially, is the rush to pull it all down after Christmas Day. The 12 days of Christmas should start on the 25th through Jan 6th! (or 24th - 5th depending on who you listen to).
Sarah, USA via UK

The worst thing about Christmas is the pressure to spend money on presents, cards, decorations etc. At least with this being in the shops early it gives people chance to spread the cost over a longer time.
Peter Robinson, England

The shops lost me years ago - I stopped celebrating Christmas when I realized that it had absolutely nothing to do with religion, peace on earth, goodwill to men or anything else with which it used to be associated. So, if starting the hype in shops by the end of October is supposed to give me more time to spend money on Christmas shopping, it's not working. I can't be the only person who has given up on the holiday completely - I think retailers are shooting themselves in the foot by this "in your face" behaviour. I don't do Halloween, Easter, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day or any other festivals which exist solely for the benefit of retailers, either.
Margaret, Canada

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times in the year. All these lights, decorations, songs and tradition. I love this and I still have the illusion of a white Christmas full of happiness and freedom. But when I go into shops and see gingerbread at the beginning of September I could loose the joy for Christmas! It's awful! From my point of view we should remember Christmas as a family feast with less presents but more love and understanding!
Doreen, Germany

I think that Christmas is more of a cultural holiday than a religious one. We cannot deny its pagan roots and I think that it is important to have such a holiday that expresses our cultural roots just as much as our religious ones. I think that maybe it is good for our economy to start Christmas early. I think that people should just buy things for the kids and keep it simple. I for one have a huge family and it always puts a dent in my wallet. This makes my favourite holiday hard to enjoy. I am not a Christian and do not celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday. I think it should be more a time to enjoy family and teach our kids about our European heritage.
Jim, Hoboken, USA


Abuse of the Christian festival

Doug E-J, UK
Each time I visit a shop that has put its Christmas decorations out prior to December I like to point out to them my displeasure at this abuse of the Christian festival. These days of course this means complaining in almost every shop.
Doug E-J, UK

Give me a break. I'm still buying fireworks!
Paul Fairhurst, UK

Having seen Christmas decorations in a shop at the end of August in Lymington, yes it does start too early! Let's get Halloween and Bonfire night over and done with before the decorations go up - preferably mid-late November. It takes all the fun (and magic) out of Christmas. Also, can magazines please stop advising us to "stock up on milk and perishables". Don't they realise that most shops (big and small) open for a few hours on Boxing Day? The amount of food, particularly bread and milk, that I see being bought by panicking idiots would be enough to keep an average family well-fed for a month!
Sue Hudson, London, UK


I just heard that Luton Council are planning to restrict Christmas

Hazel, UK
Count yourself lucky - I just heard that Luton Council are planning to restrict Christmas and make it part of a weak merger of other religious festivals. It won't be an official individual event anymore. I bet people there would rather have it starting in November rather than not at all!! This country is a strange place of contradiction...
Hazel, UK

I think the earlier the better! At a time of year when it's dark, gloomy and cold, it's lovely to have something to look forward to. I'm sure that Christians wouldn't mind the reminders of Jesus' birth being sent out a bit earlier either!
Jenni Meston, Swindon, UK

I can't believe it! Commerce has actually killed Christmas. It's no fun anymore and it's a big stress for everyone. Well, I'm not stressing out this year. I'm spending all my cash on really good food and drink instead of tacky decorations and useless presents that no-one wants. I'm going to hold several large parties. If my guests really feel they have to bring gifts, let it be something worthy - wine.
Russ, UK


A huge marketing ploy

Simon Moore, UK
I don't have a problem with people celebrating Christmas, but I do have one with the pretence of the whole event. Let's face it, it is nothing more than a huge marketing ploy to get people to spend vast amounts of money on things that they don't really want to buy. And the most annoying part is that you can't opt out - however much you try to do so Christmas is always shoved down your throat. Miserable Scrooge? No, I just happen to think that there are more important things in life than SHOPPING!
Simon Moore, UK

I know someone who used to work for Cadbury. Whilst the Xmas stuff is in the shops, they are making Easter eggs. In my opinion, Christmas is much more special when stuff is in the shops for just a month.
Helen, UK

Yes Christmas does start too early, I went shopping on Saturday only to find Halloween costumes mixed with Christmas goods, how confusing. Also shops seem to get their items in early every year. It shouldn't start until the end of November, early December at the earliest.
G. Williams, UK

They can start putting the decorations up in April if they want but I'll still wait until mid December until I do my shopping. Like most people I've got far too much going on in my daily life to concern myself with Christmas shopping.
Tim, UK

I used to be peeved at the sheer absurdity of Christmas ads in shopping centres, until it hit me. The truth! Don't celebrate it until you're ready. Do it at your own pace. And remember those who really don't know the freedom to choose!
Ivan Bawa, USA

If you don't like Christmas, don't celebrate it! It is then neither early nor late.
Richard, London, UK


Big stores don't have any choice - they have to bleed it for every last penny

Philip, UK
Yes, it does start too early, but big stores have shareholders to answer to and they don't have any choice - they have to bleed it for every last penny. And that means starting early.
Philip, UK

As a foreigner, I was surprised to see that there were already Christmas ads in October in the UK. In France, what I would call the Christmas campaign starts in November. One of my professors, who is British, told us that in his opinion the French are more attached to the tradition related to Christmas than the British. He holds the view that Christmas in Britain is much more commercial than in France.
Dominique Bikindou, France/UK

Back in the 70s the Christmas season started after Thanksgiving, that's when the decorating and the shopping began. Three weeks were enough for me. Now since the retailers rely on the holiday season for a third of their yearly revenue, the madness starts before Halloween. That is a little too much for me to stomach, with it all being shoved down our throats.
Paul Wislon Jr, USA

Christmas definitely does start too early. But is it my imagination, or has it started slightly later this year as a result of the World Trade Centre attacks? I'm sure we've seen Christmas decorations in shops by September in previous years.
Kate, UK


It was not the season to be jolly

Scroogina
A month ago whilst on my way to work, I spotted an outrageously fully-dressed kitsch Christmas tree... tinsel, fairy lights, the works... not in a shop, but in a house. It was not the season to deck the halls... it was not the season to write Christmas cards... it was not the season to be jolly... Bah humbug!
Scroogina

The commercial aspect of Christmas definitely starts far too early as does Halloween and firework sales. The Christmas lights in Chorley were starting to be put up by the council at the beginning of October.
Roger Taylor, England

Christmas does seem to start earlier and earlier. I think it's funny that Christmas decorations start to appear BEFORE Halloween. Businesses are planning Christmas "specials" earlier and earlier to try to make up for the lack of spending that has been occurring. (Although the same thing happened when the economy was good). I do not agree with forcing Christmas spending on people, but I hope that the Christmas "spirit" helps to alleviate some of the stress people are feeling about the "war" on terrorism.
David Mayhall, USA

Christmas wouldn't start this early in the shops if people didn't buy the goods. People prefer to blame business rather than themselves.
Ian Sharpe, UK

Not only does it start too early, it also drags on until mid-January. BAH! HUMBUG!
Mike, UK

Yes it does start too early. One large department store in Basel put decorations up in mid-October in the children's department. Thankfully most of the other shops don't start until mid-November.
Pat Hills, Switzerland


The material aspects seem much more important than the spiritual ones

Fatimah Begum, UK
As a Muslim, I'd been brought up with the idea that Christmas was a religious holiday for Christians. Yet the material aspects seem much more important than the spiritual ones. That is a shame really. If I understand the Christian view of Jesus correctly, he wouldn't have approved of any of this at all.
Fatimah Begum, UK

Well, I personally like to see the decorations when I go shopping in a mall but then again I do not feel pressurised to buy anything - I just enjoy the decorations! Of course, in the US, they don't go overboard until after Thanksgiving at the end of November. Right now it's turkey time!
Amanda, USA

Spare a thought for the poor retail staff - they'll have the Easter eggs in the stores' warehouses before they even put their sprouts on. Just think how long they've been gearing up for Xmas already. And do you really think they'll be allowed to take the holiday leave to make a week of it up to New Year?
Ian W, UK

Last year in Cardiff, shops were taking down the Christmas decorations a week before Christmas to put up details of the January sales (which were starting on Boxing Day ?). Ultimately all they will end up doing is watering down the "event" into a non-event.
Philip Daw, UK


The Christmas season starts bang on time

Jason, Manchester, England
I have 2 children and for me the only way to get them presents they like is for me to start to save up in September so as Christmas comes closer I have enough for their presents and the other things that you need. So for me the Christmas season starts bang on time.
Jason, Manchester, England

We have a culture that militates against enjoying Christmas. As a nation we work too hard, do too much commuting, come home and metaphorically kick the cat; TV tries to sell us and our kids stuff that we don't want or need, and probably the most long-lived toy is the box the thing came in. CANCEL CHRISTMAS!
Terry F, Hereford, UK

Christmas has been so destroyed by commercialism and is so stressful as a result that I start dreading it towards the end of August. The fact that cards and calendars start appearing right after Labour Day (early September) doesn't help. If only there was no sign of Christmas clutter until Advent (end of November)!
Barrie Martindale, Canada


Don't put the decorations up until December!

Jo Mitchell, UK
I enjoy Christmas but I resent the fact it is rammed down my throat for three months before the festival actually arrives. Please, get rid of the constant Xmas-muzak in the shops, and don't put the decorations up until December!
Jo Mitchell, UK

As a boy in the 1960's, I used to love Christmas - it never seemed over-busy and I think my parents enjoyed it too. Nowadays, bang on queue, as soon as the clocks go back, we start the Great Shop. Of course it is a personal issue, but the hype seems increasingly unavoidable. Helen, UK is perfectly right - we are all fodder for the marketing boys - they have us eating out of their hands and the worst thing is, we know exactly what they are doing. And don't get me started on children's TV adverts on Saturday mornings!
T. Mathews, UK

Christmas does not start too early but 'Shoppingmas' does. The most widely practiced religion in the UK is now 'Shopping'.
Helen, UK

What? Christmas already??? Hang on, it is only just November.... Yes it does start too early.
Dan F, England

I think Christmas starts far too early. By the time it actually gets here I'm usually heartily sick of it all and can't wait for things to get back to normal!
Jane, Wales, UK

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See also:

26 Oct 01 | Business
Top ten toys for Christmas
31 Oct 01 | Business
UK shoppers hit by nerves
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