Christmas, as much as I love it, is a strange time of year. In this day and age, the build-up to yule is absolutely massive, what with people counting down the days months beforehand and Christmas light switch-ons in November. And yet, once Boxing Day is finished, it seems as if a new mood takes over our society (in the UK, at least). Christmas decorations come down in the shops, Christmas TV immediately becomes far less festive, there appear to be less Christmas lights outside than before Christmas Day and people start talking about how Noël is over.
Nowhere is this un-festive mood more apparent than on parenting website and all-round goldmine Mumsnet, which is full of accounts of people taking down their Christmas decorations long before the year’s even out. On a thread in the Talk section of the site entitled “When are we taking our Xmas decs down ? [sic]”, users tell of taking their Christmas gear down on December 27, December 28 and even Boxing Day. There was even talk of decorations coming down on Christmas Day itself!
I personally have no idea why people would take their Christmas decorations down before New Year’s Day. If you’re Christian, you might believe in the concept of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which runs from Christmas Day until January 5. Even if you’re not, however, this idea is one that has seeped into popular culture — think about the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. For people to go about taking their decorations down just a few days after Christmas, or Boxing Day, or even Christmas Day itself, just seems a bit Scrooge-like.
Still, at least some of the Mumsnet users see sense. One commented on the thread: “Ahh [sic] the ridiculous annual threads where people who’ve had their tree and decs up since September declare ‘Christmas is over’ 4pm on the 25th and must get ‘back to normal’ 🙄 [sic]”. Another user wrote: “There seems to be a trend for starting Christmas earlier and earlier and also for finishing it sooner and sooner. There’s something a bit miserable about people tearing down the decorations at midnight on Christmas Day and declaring Christmas officially over.”
They may be being a little tongue-in-cheek, but I know what this latter poster means, and I definitely agree with their observation about Christmas beginning and ending earlier. Nowadays, we’re plunged into the festive season all the way in November, and perhaps that’s why the time after Boxing Day feels like such an anti-climax and prompts people to view Christmas as finished for another year. This year, the John Lewis Christmas advert was launched on November 15, while Asda’s ‘Bring Christmas Home’ TV advertisement premiered on an eye-watering November 2 — before Bonfire Night had even occurred! Of course, there’s no denying that Christmas is a great marketing tool for the retail world, so referencing it earlier is a good idea for them, but does that mean we all have to follow suit? For example, I know television has to cater to everyone, but why does it have to get rid of the Christmas song countdowns and leave only a handful of festive programming before the 12 Days of Christmas are out?
As for Mumsnet? Although a user did make a pertinent point about how they would find it strange if someone wished them “Merry Christmas” after the big day itself, others were with me about wanting to make the most of the Christmas period. “Why can nobody languish in the festive period any more?” one user wrote, while another said: “This is the restful period for me: no more hosting, minimal cooking, lots of sleep and reading and tv [sic] and walks and it’s when I can actually sit and enjoy all the decorations in a little hibernation cocoon.”
Amen (religiously or non-religiously) to that.