Hollier and Jollier: On the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Graphic by Robert Samec
Graphic by Robert Samec

Most houses still have Halloween decorations on their yards, while in supermarkets across the nation candy is on clearance. Pumpkin spice and cinnamon flavors have overrun menus. Mariah Carey is once again on the charts. Welcome to the holidays!

While the holiday season abruptly ends at New Years, the start date seems to creep up earlier each year. School supplies are on sale in July, Halloween candy makes its way into stores before Labor Day, and Christmas decorations are on display before Halloween. What are we celebrating after the New Year? Presidents’ Days is just an excuse for a 3-day weekend and sales, while Valentine’s Day is a great way to make lonely people feel even more lonely. It’s already spring by the time St. Patrick’s Day comes around.

I love Christmastime. People decorate their houses with bright lights, everyone seems jolly, and who doesn’t enjoy gawking at ugly sweaters? I look forward to Christmas Day because it means I get to watch a movie with my family and eat Chinese food for dinner. That’s right—this Jew loves Christmas. I don’t have a tree, but I still enjoy candy canes and the holiday spirit. 

Why does Christmas have to be so early, anyway? The pinnacle of the winter season is only two weeks after the solstice, which makes all of January and February cold and sad. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say Jesus was born on December 25. Christians started commemorating Jesus’s birth on that day because it happened to coincide with a Pagan holiday for the Winter solstice. Christianity itself is divided over when Christmas should be. Orthodox Christians celebrate on January 7 because they use the Julian calendar, while Catholics and Protestants use the Gregorian.

Holidays evolve. It seems like it’s only been a few years since Columbus Day warranted a 3-day weekend, while now the second Monday in October is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

One month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is not enough for me. I want more of the indescribable warmth of Christmas during the coldest of nights. I want more Yule logs and hot chocolate. I want more people wishing me “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!”

Moving Christmas back to January or February would make holidays better spaced out, eliminating the need for a holiday season altogether: there would always be another holiday around the corner. We could still be joyous at the end of December for New Year’s, while not begrudging the beginning seasonal depression. 

Corporate America can try to appeal to the coziness of the holidays with red and green-toned ads and the same dozen songs on repeat; the real holiday magic comes from the quality time spent with friends and family during these special days. There is something significant about participating in the same events year-in and year-out, whether casual or all-out. Ritual gives us something to look forward to. Holiday traditions stretch further than cultural norms. Customs within a family or household—like eating a certain food or dressing in a specific way—can hold just as much importance as more mainstream traditions like Christmas ham or an Elf on the Shelf. 

The chance of changing our holiday calendar is somewhere between nil and zero. We can shrink into our oversized sweaters while relishing our limited holiday time, or we can create a more manageable alternative. There’s no reason why we cannot create new holidays. I think a second Christmas sounds delightful and certainly not unheard of. 

One year, my family found an extra turkey in the freezer. After inviting some cousins over, Thanksgiving in June was born. We served all the traditional Thanksgiving foods, and our cousins brought Italian ice for dessert. Great food is always a plus, so it became a tradition. Thanksgiving in June fell off our calendar only when we moved away—it became clear that transporting a frozen dessert from New Jersey to Maryland would be cumbersome.

If you find yourself in the middle of the summer (or spring or fall or winter) and missing your favorite holiday, don’t despair! Grab a few friends and spread some cheer. Who knows, maybe your newfound holiday will gain traction.

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