Christmas stores: ‘tis the season… apparently?

It seems that Santa has been making his list and checking it twice since September. © Sofie Verdonck

Summer has only just made its exit, and Christmas stores and collections are already lurking around the corner. This raises the question: isn’t it too soon to spread the Christmas cheer? According to some students it’s definitely not: ‘I tag people in Christmas posts all year ‘round.’

The Christmas season is – to quote Andy Williams’ song – the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of celebrations, of decorated trees and hot chocolate milk. Which apparently starts in September?

‘Ready for Christmas? Ho ho ho!’ © Facebook

When we look at our calendars, the Christmas season starts at the end of November, and runs to the beginning of January. That’s how it’s always been and that’s how it still is for a lot of people – or is it? When we go outside we see an entirely different story. Though summer has only just passed, we can already see stores starting on their Christmas collections, and pop-ups selling trees and decorations.

So what is it about the Christmas season that is so appealing? Why would we want to start decorating so soon? Or why should we wait? Several students were willing to share their views on Santa’s favourite holiday.

Why do you like Christmas?
Answering this question, the students all gave similar responses: the cosiness, gathering with family, decorating the tree, and opening presents. ‘Everything is just so much cosier,’ Wies Van Hirtum explains. ‘It’s cold outside and you can sit indoors next to the Christmas tree. There are presents underneath the tree, and pretty decorations,’ he continues, ‘it really just brightens up the house.’

Sanne Moonemans, on the other hand, has mixed feelings. ‘Right after summer, stores start selling Christmas items, and you hear things about Christmas on the radio. By the time it’s Christmas I’ve had enough of it.’ But Sanne isn’t the only one that thinks stores are early to promote Christmas.

Sinterklaas has to visit first and bring chocolate,’ Noortje Verbruggen says. ‘I feel bad for Sinterklaas, because it can be confusing for small children. It can be convenient for students like me though, because I have to study during the Christmas period. So the stores already being open allows me to buy my presents beforehand.’

Wies doesn’t really mind the stores, ‘it’s early, but they can if they want to, right?’ However, that’s where he draws the line. According to him supermarkets shouldn’t be selling ginger nuts (kruidnoten) and other Christmas foods yet.

Wies thinks it’s too early to be selling ‘kruidnoten’ or ginger nuts. © Sofie Verdonck

When can people start?
So when is the right time for stores to start spreading the Christmas joy? There are two key moments that return in the answers: Halloween and Sinterklaas. International student Alena Bieling thinks we should all wait until Halloween has passed. Some Belgian students, such as Maïthé Chini, agree. ‘I understand that people don’t want to wait until after Sinterklaas, but they should at least wait until Halloween has passed,’ Maïthé clarifies.

The interviewees all come to the same conclusion: stores are early in selling Christmas decorations, and it’s only getting worse. ‘I think that people like that time of year,’ Noortje explains. ‘Setting up the Christmas tree and decorating is usually a lot of work, so people start early. That way they can enjoy it for a longer period of time. It creates a certain cosy homely vibe too.’

So when do you start?
For internationals such as Alena, the Christmas season starts after Halloween. For those who celebrate Sinterklaas – the Belgian and Dutch students – it starts after 6th December. ‘At the end of November, you can see the lights in the streets. That’s the beginning,’ Wies says. ‘But only after Sinterklaas it’s 100% Christmas season.’ He goes on to explain that his family still decorates a real tree. ‘If you were to set it up in November, it wouldn’t look good anymore by the time it’s Christmas.’

Noortje admits that she tags people in Christmas posts all year ‘round, because she really likes the holiday. ‘But you should only start celebrating when the time is right,’ she quickly adds.

When asked if she was willing to answer some questions
on Christmas, Noortje responded using this GIF.

And what about Christmas music?
To slightly change the song by Band Aid: don’t they know it’s not Christmas?

Though it isn’t Christmastime, you can hear Christmas songs every now and then. Noortje explains, ‘usually it’s only after Sinterklaas. Sometimes I do hear a Christmas song before that, and then I’ll sing along. But that’s just for the fun of it.’

Wies initially answers he doesn’t listen to Christmas music before Sinterklaas. As he continues however, he has to confess he sometimes does. ‘Once in a while when I’m in a really good mood it can happen. But not every day or anything. I sometimes listen to a Christmas song during the summer, in July or August. But then I only listen to one song and I’m good for another month.’

Noortje and Wies don’t seem to be the only ones already singing Christmas hits: John Legend too can’t seem to wait until the season officially begins. On Monday 1st October he announced that he will be releasing his very first Christmas album – A Legendary Christmas – on 26th October.

John Legend will be touring the United States to promote his album. © 2018 Sony Music Entertainment


Text and picture: Sofie Verdonck