Decking the fall: why Christmas came early this year

By Anastasia Bekker

Elm Staff Writer

Communities around the world have decided that the remedy for quarantine blues is holiday cheer, even with Christmas still months away. 

Christmas enthusiasts have connected both online and offline through neighborhood decorations, holiday-themed radio stations, and the video-posting app TikTok.

As the pandemic keeps people inside their homes, neighbors decorate their houses with Christmas lights to add some life to the empty streets. Hallmark kicked off its “We Need A Little Christmas” movie marathon and Pinterest users doubled their searches for Christmas recipes and decoration ideas back in March.

In the summer months, the Christmas community began growing online. TikTok users started posting slideshows and videos of all things Christmas: classic movies, baked goods, presents — all set to nostalgic holiday music. 

Many find these small tastes of winter cheer comforting during quarantine. Some Christmas-themed TikTok accounts have attracted followers by the thousands.

“There is something special about Christmas that lifts everyone’s spirits,” Megan Ward, owner of a popular Christmas TikTok account, said in The New York Times.

This “something special” is the same reason that the Christmas spirit has spread to the airwaves. 

Radio stations from London to Phoenix are adding favorites like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and Bobby Helms’s “Jingle Bell Rock” on rotation, while other stations have recently started to play Christmas tunes at all hours. 

“What better way to lift our spirits than bringing Christmas forward a few months?” Ronan Keating, the host of Britain’s new radio station, “Magic 100% Christmas,” said.

Although Christmas came early online, on television, and on the radio, there’s still one thing missing: presents. Holiday enthusiasts have emphasized the atmosphere of the season without the shopping sprees.

Research done by Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor of Harvard Business School, and Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, in 2017 into the relationship between Christmas and psychology suggests that a focus on relationships and experiences, rather than presents, is beneficial to mental health. 

Their studies show that placing less importance on buying gifts and instead spending money on experiences can lead to a happier holiday and a sense of well-being that lasts beyond Christmas vacation. 

“We focus on prioritizing time with each other, rather than what we’re going to give to each other,” Whillans said in an interview with Slate, describing the health-conscious holiday traditions in her family. 

Whillan and Dunn’s research also advises people to only participate in the Christmas traditions that they enjoy. This may be easier in a virtual Christmas, where everyone can celebrate their favorite parts of the holiday without pressure from friends or family to be involved in a certain event or activity. 

Christmas, which is usually celebrated over the course of the month of December, has become a year-long event this year, thanks to communities around the globe deciding that yuletide can never be too early. 

Despite the circumstances, Christmas lovers have proven that holiday can be celebrated any time of year  especially by those who need it most. 

Featured Photo caption: With fall right around the corner, people around the world are starting to find reasons to jump ahead and celebrate Christmas earlier this year. Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.

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