There is a new source of stress for Americans and it’s called “Christmas Creep.” It’s enough to make you want to bring out the holiday cocktails. Back when I was a child the Christmas holiday season began the day after Thanksgiving. Indeed, in 1939 Thanksgiving was set to take place on November 30 and that left just 25 days until Christmas. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decreed Thanksgiving would take place one week early in an attempt to extend the Christmas season. People derisively called it Franksgiving.
I have noticed in recent years how Christmas displays began coming out earlier and earlier. By now we have all seen Halloween and Christmas decorations existing at the same time. What’s missing is Thanksgiving. There’s hardly a sign of it due to Christmas Creep. This from Healthline.
No, it’s not just you.
The holidays really do start early these days, and we’re not talking about Halloween. In fact, retailers seem to have put the spooky season on the back burner and are already starting winter holiday sales this year.
At some point in the future I can imagine the first and second quarter holidays (through July 4th) running together into a 6-month Valentine Memorial 4th of July festival. The 3rd and 4th quarter holidays from Labor Day to Christmas to New Years will become one big hybrid holiday season.
“This is the tendency of retailers — both physical and e-commerce — to try and kick off holiday spending earlier and earlier in the season. For the American consumer, in particular, this tends to be oriented around Christmas gift shopping,” says Matt Johnson, PhD.
The holidays can be a money-making boon for retailers. In 2021, the National Retail Federation said holiday sales jumped 14.1% to a record $886.7 billion, and it appears retailers are banking on a longer season helping their bottom lines this year.
Some people become depressed during the Christmas season. This is sometimes referred to as the pre-holiday blues. Many people are saddened by the perception that they are not has happy as others or that they should be happier. Holiday shopping can also be the source of stress. Experts say Christmas Creep may not have the intended effects.
But Johnson and mental health experts say the Christmas creep can backfire more than the Grinch’s attempt to steal Christmas. Notably, it may stress consumers out and turn them off from shopping.
Healthline spoke with mental health experts about the pros and cons of the ‘Christmas creep’ phenomenon, its effects on mental health, and how consumers can avoid the pre-holiday holiday blues.
Holidays are supposed to be joyful, but many people may be feeling stressed about money.
There isn’t research on how an extended season of holiday deals affects mental health. But generally, data has indicated that the holidays, especially the gift-giving expectations, are stressors.
“The creep of the holidays can trigger feelings of inadequacy for some,” says Janelle S. Peifer, PhD, LCP, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Richmond and founder of Peifer Psychology. “People may wonder, ‘Am I behind the curve on preparing for the holidays? What if I can’t afford the trappings of the holidays being presented? Am I letting down myself or my family in some way?”
I understand how the Christmas holiday can be stressful. My stress level came down tremendously after my siblings and I agreed to stop exchanging gifts. I’m no longer in a mad rush to find things for nieces and nephews. I don’t have to figure out what to get my parents. My wife and I agree on something we want and it’s usually small since we have everything we need.
My own thoughts on extending the holiday season is that it will dilute the holiday season. I’ve seen people in Home Depot and Lowes chuckle after seeing Christmas trees beside Halloween skeletons. People aren’t being fooled into celebrating Christmas earlier. If anything, they are more likely to be cynical of the holidays. How can Home Depot entice me to invest in an extravagant Halloween display, or a blow-up turkey for the yard while they remind me Christmas is just around the corner?