In Western culture, Christmas occurs on December 25. It’s usually a time for celebrating the birth of Christ, gift giving and holiday cheer. Christmas in July celebrations may be held to provide a second joyful celebration in the year.
In the southern hemisphere, where July is generally the coldest month, Christmas in July is the name given to social events with a winter theme. Midwinter “Christmas” or Yulefest is an unofficial related celebration followed by some families with an English or European background in Australia and New Zealand during their wintertime. The date of the observance varies from place to place and family to family but generally occurs around the time of the winter solstice, June 20 or 21.
In the northern hemisphere where the weather is generally warm during the summer months, many crave the atmosphere of cooler temperatures, gift giving and long gone holiday spirit. To satisfy this craving, some throw parties during the month of July that mimic the celebration of Christmas. The features include Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods and gifts. Retailers use this time as a marketing opportunity and a way increase summer sales. Television shopping networks even have shows titled Christmas in July.
The Swedish, Norwegian and Danish word for Christmas is Jul, which happens to be the abbreviation for July in English. When you translate “Christmas in July” to Swedish you get “Jul i Juli.”
In the 1892 opera Werther, based on Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, a group of children rehearse a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds, “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”
The earliest known occasion to make the phrase Christmas in July literal was in July 1933 when girls at a summer camp, Camp Keystone in North Carolina, celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts and a visit from Santa Claus.
The term and perhaps the concept was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood comedy Christmas in July. In the movie, a man is duped into believing he has won a $25,000 prize contest. He buys presents for family, friends and neighbors and proposes marriage to his girlfriend.
Celebrating Christmas in July
Celebrating Christmas in July can be tons of fun whether you throw a summer bash complete with a visit from Santa, bake cookies or watch a few good Christmas themed movies. For a mini-celebration, I plan to watch a few favorite movies like The Holiday, The Family Stone and This Christmas. If I get really excited, who knows, I might even dust off The Polar Express.
On a visit to the local Crate and Barrel outlet, I picked up some pretty cool Christmas ornaments that were featured in last year’s catalog. There were even a few buyers sample ornaments available, which may or may not end up as a part of the 2009 Christmas collection. Each ornament and sample cost about .95 cents, not too shabby for a Christmas in July purchase!
Whether you decide to celebrate Christmas in July or wait until the real thing on December 25th, reminders of the season will start showing up everywhere in about 3 months. Most retailers have made inventory choices and will start decorating stores at the end of September and in early October. Oh my, how time flies.
Happy Christmas in July!