Christmas is a celebration with ancient roots and shared customs across many cultures. Mythology, religion and politics have through the millennia influenced how Christmas became what it is today. And let’s not forget the role that marketing has played in making this holiday a worldwide phenomenon. (Don’t miss our blog series on the history of marketing). But a newer celebration has taken off in recent years—Christmas in July. Many think it’s a marketing scheme launched to clear out old merchandise and prepare for new products. But Christmas in July has a much older derivation:
- The first “Christmas in July” party was celebrated by an Ohio fraternity in July 1884.
- The first actual use of the phrase “Christmas in July” was in an 1894 English translation of the French opera Werther: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”
- In 1933, a girls’ camp in North Carolina began celebrating an annual Christmas in July, complete with a tree, gifts, and even a visit from Santa Claus.
- In 1940, Preston Sturges directed a Hollywood comedy film called “Christmas in July.”
- In 1942, a pastor at a church in Washington, D.C. instituted the annual celebration of “Christmas Presents in July,” which he had brought from his earlier post in Philadelphia, complete with a gift-covered Christmas tree. His goal was to collect presents in plenty of time to distribute them to the church’s worldwide missions. By 1946, the Christmas in July service began to be broadcast on the radio, that era’s equivalent to television.
- During World War II, the U.S. Post Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Army and Navy, launched a Christmas in July campaign to make sure servicemen and -women overseas got their Christmas cards, correspondence and gifts in time for Christmas.
- The advertising industry picked up on the trend and turned it into a sales opportunity for their clients as early as 1950, when “Christmas in July” sales were first advertised in print.
So this week AntiquityNOW is celebrating Christmas in July with two days of fun facts and free gifts. Look for our special blogs on Wednesday and Thursday. Enjoy your summer and have a very merry July!
Read about the ancient origins of Christmas here.