When Should The Holiday Season Start?

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When Should The Holiday Season Start?

Words by Mr Dan Davies and Ms Danai Dana

5 November 2020

Every year, the holiday season seems to arrive earlier than the previous one. This may be the case, or just another culture war invented in our heads. What is certainly true, however, is that when the first snowflake falls in a festive advert or “Santa Baby” chimes at our local supermarket, ’twasn’t the night before Christmas, but some weeks – if not months – before that. At that very moment, a debate erupts, between friends, family and strangers on Twitter: when should this festive season officially kick off? Must we abide by the 12-day rule or can we start throwing tinsel around the second we need to put on a big coat to leave the house? As with many things, this is an argument often divided by age. To get some degree of resolution, we tasked our spritely Gen-Z Sub-Editor, Ms Danai Dana, and our creaking boomer (we think – we daren’t ask) Editorial Director, Mr Dan Davies, to thrash it out. May the best Dan win.

Mr Dan Davies, Editorial Director

“From mid-December at the earliest”

Some people love the changing of the seasons. They harp on about the pleasing colour of the leaves, the sudden snap of cold in the air and the reassuring smell of bonfires. When they see no change whatsoever in my expression, they often try a different tack, waxing lyrical about how excited they are to once again be eating stews, drinking full-bodied red wines and pulling on the cashmere for the first time in months.

I’ve got no problem with the latter – I appreciate superior meat-based broths, big malbecs and reassuringly expensive knitwear as much as the next man. But as someone who loves the sun on my skin, the feeling of it on my eyelids, the many and wonderful things that happen when it is high in the sky, signifiers that winter is coming generally send me into a tailspin.

At the very least, autumn, or fall, whatever you call it, should provide a buffer to the worst excesses of winter. And by the worst excesses, I don’t just mean chronic vitamin D deficiency, three hours of daylight and feeling constantly cold, wet and miserable. No, I’m referring to Christmas or the holiday season (whatever you choose to call it), the Coachella or Glastonbury of the colder months, the time when normally sane people spend fortunes on landfill for people they don’t really like, dress up in novelty sweaters that make nobody in the world laugh and reassure themselves they are digging the spiritual side by attending church for the only time in the year.

Parking the religious aspects for a moment, I’d like to focus on the very worst thing about this time of year – its refusal to stay in its own season. Christmas is a winter thing, so why must it unleash its shock-and-awe units – TV commercials, gift guides and festive decorations in shops – in autumn? I mean, give me a chance properly to mourn the passing of summer before you start brainwashing my children and guilt-tripping me with promos for the latest injection-moulded plastic monstrosity that’s destined to be discarded or broken by Boxing Day.

My hatred of winter, and all that it brings, is compounded by the fact my birthday falls on or around the day the clocks go back. Rather than marking the passing of another full year of life, the day of my birth coincides with the firing of the opening salvo in the annual war of attrition against the forces of darkness and guileless consumerism.

If the holiday season would only sign a treaty guaranteeing it would stop invading autumn and would not undergo exercises of any kind until the first week of December, we might be able to enter a new age of détente. Until then and while winter, and by extension Christmas, continues its brazen encroachment on the final days of summer, I will have no choice but to stand firm.

Ms Danai Dana, Junior Sub-Editor

“Joy to the world right now”

OK, boomer. What’s not to love about the holiday season? It’s a time to kick back, there’s food and alcohol aplenty, everyone is happy and, even if there’s no snow, there’s always the hope there will be. The otherwise bleak, long nights are lit up, the air is infused with cinnamon and cloves. Winter can be grim and any celebration that takes your mind off the miserable weather is welcome. So, the earlier, and therefore longer, the better. Am I right?

As far as I’m concerned, as soon as Halloween is over, it’s holiday time, baby. Picture it: it’s early November, decorations sporadically appear, lights go up and markets pop up all over the country. And you know what markets mean – mulled wine.

In my native Greece, during the holidays we make melomakarona (honey cookies). They’re a combination of dough, walnuts and winter spices, soaked in syrup and honey – they are heavenly. Then there’s the stuffing, latkes, gingerbread, mince pies and all the other amazing foods. There’s so much to eat, you’ll need extra time to fit it all in, so why wait until the big day? Plus, the holidays cordially invite you to wear layers of chunky clothes to cover your Santa belly.

’Tis the season to dig out those old wintry knits at the back of your wardrobe. Why not don your comfiest sweater while you enjoy the old classics? There are so many great Christmas movies that you have to give yourself a good two months to watch them all. Home Alone, Elf, Die Hard (sorry, Twitter, it is a Christmas movie), The Nightmare Before Christmas (which can also double as a Halloween film, so extra points to Mr Tim Burton for straddling both). I love Christmas music, too. If my grumpy co-debater is in need of some rousing cheer, I’d stick on Ms Mariah Carey or Wham!, who truly make this season.

It’s the time of year to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. Most of us do this by giving gifts. Yes, the shopping part may be a pain but, again, it pays to take your time, start early and not leave it until the last minute. That way, you can get what they really want without the shopping mall meltdowns. (Did I mention MR PORTER’s array of gifts, so you can swerve the shop scrum entirely?)

It’s a bit of a cliché, but most of all the holidays are about spending quality time with your friends and family, be that at home, on a trip (we can dream) or at a party (let’s hope, eh?). And if you don’t want more of that, you’ve got bigger problems than tinsel and the Queen’s speech. To all the Grinches out there, stop being such a buzzkill. Jeez.

Illustrations by Mr Adam Nickel

Winter Wonderland