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Online Trends

Published December 12th 2019

When Does Christmas Start? We Have the Data

Jumping from Halloween to Christmas just doesn’t feel right. So what time is the right time to break out the festive decorations?

You’ve barely dusted off your winter jacket, yet you’re seeing Santa displays in your local shops. What ever happened to pacing ourselves around the holidays?

There are a lot of different ideas about when the Christmas season actually starts.

For the traditionalists, any merriment before December 1 is out of the question.

For a lot of our American readers, the second Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, the Christmas tree goes up.

For our die-hard Christmas lovers, it’s the end of Halloween that should signal the sound of cheesy festive tunes.

With so many conflicting opinions, we decided to consult the data. Here’s what we found.

Christmas countdown

Looking at a couple of years of data we’re able to see when people start getting into the Christmas spirit.

In both 2017 and 2018 we see a rise in online Christmas joy began as soon as the Halloween costumes are packed away. But the real start of the Christmas conversation (especially in 2017) didn’t come until December 1.

Christmas mentions on social (2017 vs 2018)

Source: Brandwatch

In both years, the overwhelming majority of the conversation is categorized as joyful. Add a dash of Christmas tree emojis and a sprinkle of shiny wrapped presents and you have a very festive conversation.

This year is on track to follow the same trends, with Christmas talk beginning in earnest in early October and steadily increasing as we get closer to December.

But what do online conversations around Christmas-related activities like shopping and decorating tell us about when consumers consider the Christmas period to truly start? And are things changing?

Shop ‘til you drop 

It’s one thing to talk about Christmas, it’s another thing to get going on that never-ending shopping list.

In 2017, consumers began discussing their Christmas purchases early, with the first big spike coming through on November 10. There were a couple of big jumps later in December 2017 (shoutout to my fellow procrastinators). And December 23rd in particular saw an increase of last-minute shopping mentions.

Christmas shopping conversation (2017 vs 2018)

Source: Brandwatch

2018 data tells a similar story, although it seems people are being a little more organized with their Christmas shopping. The conversation indicates less of a last minute dash, with higher conversation volume in the earlier days of the festive months.

Could it be that we are getting more organized?

Oh, Christmas tree

So what about the beloved Christmas tree? For both 2017 and 2018 the highest mentions of the holiday staple fell in late November and early December.

Christmas tree decoration conversation (2017 vs 2018)

Source: Brandwatch

The data tells a similar story here to the one we see with Christmas shopping above – in 2018 our biggest spike in decorating conversation fell earlier than in 2017, just like we were more likely to chat about getting our shopping done earlier in 2018 than in 2017.

What’s the verdict?

It does seem like every year the Christmas season sneaks up just a little bit earlier, and the above data more or less supports this inkling.

If our habits continue, retailers could do well to get their Christmas ranges up and ready even earlier next year – consumers seem keen to get their shopping and decorating underway long before the clock strikes midnight on the last day of November.

But here’s the thing about the holidays: they’re meant to be enjoyed (whatever that looks like for you). If putting up that Christmas tree in November brings you joy, then you go Glen Coco. If you want to leave it til the last minute, you do you.

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