Sunday, 15 October 2017

Don’t they know it’s not Christmas?

It’s the middle of October. The trees are turning orange and gold; the squirrels are burying nuts; it’s time to get out the warmer woollies.

And the next festival (how we need them to brighten the shortening days) is Halloween. And so, yes, there are pumpkins in the markets and wizards in the toy shops. 

So why are there fireworks, already, sparkling and twinkling and crackling, filling the dark skies with  colours. Don’t get me wrong, I love fireworks - but we’ve another three weeks till bonfire night (here in the UK at least).

Even worse - there are Christmas decorations in the shops. Red and silver and winter green. Giant gift displays. And the background music in John Lewis last week … (brace yourself) … O Little Town of Bethlehem. Yes, with more than two months to go, the shops are already trying to tell us that our great aunt Nellie can’t live without a scented candle or several. You’d best try those fairy lights because you can’t possibly be the only home in the village without a flashing Santa by your front door. 

More than two months - that’s over a sixth of a year, and already we are bombarded with Christmas. 

I understand that shops are having a hard time at the moment as we tighten our post-referendum belts. I understand that many families need to spread the cost of Christmas. It is an expensive time of year and the prospect of debt can only make things harder. However, do these hard-up families need their children winding up to the big day, asking for this latest that gizmo or that whatnot - for weeks and weeks and weeks. It’s fine for Mum and Dad to hide whatever under the bed for a month or few, but how hard must it be to have little a Harry pleading each time they do the weekly shop.

There’s more. With the shops full of Christmas trinkets, Halloween and Bonfire night risk drowning in the tinsel. And where is the space for those who don’t recognise Christian festivals to have their moment in the spotlight? 

I’m privileged to have friends all over the world. I know it’s Diwali next week, and so shall light a candle or three to celebrate. And please, if I have Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist (or any other) visitors this week, please tell me if you have a festival before the end of the year, and I’ll light candles for you too. And if you have a birthday - let us all know. You, too, need your own celebrations. I might save you a firework.


  1. I think it spoils the fun of Christmas to start advertising it so soon. Children get fed up waiting for it to come. I saw my first Christmas tree two weeks ago in a restaurant. I like to be excited for Christmas but only in December.

  2. Thank goodness the Dutch don't do that. We don't have to worry about Guy Fawkes either and Halloween isn't that big a deal here either (when did that start in the UK by the way? I don't remember pumpkin stuff when I was young). The first, and most contentious festival we will be faced with is Sinterklaas on 5 December, which is more important to the Dutch than Christmas, but anathema to the rest of the world.

  3. You read my mind. The fireworks started around here about a week ago and I kept wondering why. It's still a couple of weeks till Guy Fawkes night. And don't even get me started on Christmas.

    Greetings from London.

  4. I think that this focus on Halloween and Christmas had something to do with the elevation of capitalism over the last 20 years. Perhaps we can ultimately blame Thatcher for that too. ...