Is Christmas Here Already?


With Christmas presents, lights, candles and calendars already filling Irish shops, Rachel Gaffney asks is it too soon to don that tacky Christmas jumper?

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, but are they coming much too soon? With Halloween drunken nightmares still all too fresh in our memories it’s far too soon to be discussing the most wonderful time of the year. Lords should not yet be a-leaping. It’s too early for chestnuts to be roasting on an open fire and the boys of the NYPD choir shouldn’t be singing Galway Bay.  It seems even Nidge-weasel is hanging up his twinkle lights of late (alongside his bullet-proof vest that is). With six weeks to go until the main event, can it really be said that Christmas is around the corner? More importantly though, can we really be expected to now start the twelve pubs expedition and don our tackiest Santa jumpers?

If it’s deemed socially unacceptable to wear a onesie to lectures then it should be equally unacceptable to even whisper the “C” word until long after Halloween. Bonfires are barely extinguished and cat ears not yet locked away (for another unoriginal year). And Harry Potter box-sets still litter living room floors, as shops usher in the red and green decorations as quickly as possible. Having once witnessed Advent calendars shelved adjacent to the Back to School stationary, it’s only too clear that Christmas comes too early.

Admittedly, Jack Frost may already be nipping at your nose and the Insomnia Christmas range causes an extreme internal battle with your self-control. With E4 showing The Grinch on October 26th, “Do they know it’s not Christmas?” might be more appropriate. However, when is the right time to crack out the carols and pop out the crackers? Some Dubliners say that the season of goodwill begins when the vendors on Henry Street are flogging wrapping paper instead of ‘three Toblerones for a fiver’. Others claim the time of mistletoe and wine is upon us once Clery’s have their incredible decorations displayed proudly in their windows. The tear-inducing John Lewis advert may also be a good indication that now is the time to compile completely unrealistic present wish-lists and to start training your stomach, Tribbiani style, for more courses than it could ever need in one day.

Arguably RTÉ makes the decision for us with their traditional Late Late Toy Show antics in mid-November. It is extremely challenging not to catch the Christmas-bug whilst watching Ryan Tuberty interview the latest heroes of our generation inevitably fail miserably to make some piece of technology work. The parade of children scooting across the set in cars as fast as their terrified little legs will allow them are also hilarious. You’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to melt your objections towards the season to be jolly following this stunning feat of television.

If one fights the festivities too long, can the proverbial sleigh be missed? It’s a delicate balance to achieve. It’s akin to going on a night out but missing the pre-drinks, still a good night but everybody knows you were late to the party. You could possibly be on the receiving end of scathing looks for only throwing on your Rudolph pyjamas mid-December. Said looks are also likely to be shot at you if you are caught blaring Christmas carols through your headphones on a bus. If the hype is missed, Christmas ultimately transforms into a day of forced Mass attendance and an unreal roast dinner. Added to this is the exchange of presents soon to be flung into the dark, forgotten corners of wardrobes.

It’s more and more difficult every year to keep the excitement levels up approaching the holidays. We’ve grown too cynical to appreciate the joy. We focus instead on the corporate-driven greed surrounding Christmas. There is a general rule of thumb that the longer and better the build-up to Christmas, the more depressing and dreary January is. It is universally acknowledged that Christmas is simply not the same once the Santa myth is shattered. Is it sheer bitterness for the removal of magic in the holiday that results in us all resembling Mr. Scrooge on sight or sound of anything festive before December?

Is it truly terrible to get into the festive cheer ridiculously early? Let’s face it- November is a bleak time for us all. The men of Ireland are slightly more hairy than usual and the released in time for Christmas celebrity biographies are less scandalous than the water charges. November is a month of Mondays. Perhaps the condemning of the people already in the Christmas spirit is simple jealousy as we know they’ve beaten the frantic flurry of present shopping on the 24th. Their relatives won’t all be receiving identical bath sets from the clearance section of Boots. They probably even have a New Year’s date lined up too. I retract my earlier statement, we are allowed to hate these people.

With thoughts of exams looming over our stressed heads, adopting some festive cheer may be a simple and effective way to keep our spirits up. Who can remain a Grinch listening to Cindy Lou-Who attempt to burst our eardrums or munching a mince pie or sipping on a hot Cinnamon Caramel Chai Comet from Starbucks? (an invented beverage in case that wasn’t clear). So do we extend the festivities as long as possible in the hope of clearing our winter woes or do we blatantly ignore all festivities until we physically can’t deny the holiday season is upon us? Personally, the reindeer antlers will be safely tucked away for a minimum of two more weeks before fully embracing that the best way to spread Christmas cheer: singing loud for all to hear.