Christmas Creep is a phenomenon that can be found anywhere where Christmas is celebrated, but is extremely prevalent in North America.
The concept of Christmas Creep is that the Christmas holiday season more or less kicks in earlier than Black Friday or December 1st. Since The Nineties
(and even earlier) this usually kicked in around mid-November, before Thanksgiving but also well before December.
Since Turn of the Millennium
, it is universally accepted in America that Christmas Creep starts the day after Halloween which was happening before in certain areas, but it was semi-isolated. In the past few years, certain areas are beginning to haul in small amounts of Christmas merchandise as early as mid-October.
This is a phenomenon found throughout most of the Western World, but in the United States it is the most pronounced and most blatant. The United Kingdom is one of the few major Western countries that somehow managed to avoid this trope, mainly because the Christmas season officially begins in October, the beginning of the "Christmas Quarter" (the last quarter of the year).
If Christmas Creep appears in media, it's Played for Laughs
, poking fun at it or mercilessly mocking the commercialism.
- Peanuts joked about this a lot. The Halloween-Thanksgiving period was the usual victim of the creep, but in the special It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, an entire scene takes place in a Christmas display when the gang go to buy eggs.
- In one Shoe comic strip published and taking place on July 1st, Professor Cosmo "celebrates" July 1st as the day when his Christmas decorations are no longer up too late, but too early. (Which is to say, he leaves them up all year round because he's too lazy to take them down.)
- Blondie strip for September 14th, 2013. As Dagwood and Blondie are walking through a mall, Dagwood complains about the stores playing Christmas music in September.
- One Foxtrot comic that ran in November was about a character complaining about how the decorations came out earlier every year, and stores begin pushing holiday merchandise. The punchline was that she was complaining about Valentine's Day decorations, despite it not even being December yet.
- Drabble. In the strip for Monday September 16th, 2013, Mr. Drabble (the title character's father) finds his wife singing Christmas songs and setting out Christmas decorations in September.
- This was the inspiration for Tim Burton's poem that was later adapted into an animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Tim Burton wrote the original story after seeing Christmas decorations being put up in a store window display while the Halloween decorations were being taken down.
- In one sci-fi story, Christmas Creep had gotten so out of control that laws were passed to make it illegal to even so much as hum Christmas carols except on the day itself. On penalty of death.
- Satirized in Straight No Chaser's song "The Christmas Can-Can", mixing Christmas carols and the famous can-can melody. "Heard this same song twenty times!/And it's only Halloween!"..."Christmas season!/Starting sooner every year!/It's October!/Stores with plastic Christmas trees!... But mainly shopping! shopping! shopping! shopping! shopping! shopping!"
- CD-ROM of Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary has a section called "Cultural Guide" and it has a short informative article about Christmas in Britain. One sentence really says it all: "Shops are decorated for Christmas from September and in the weeks before Christmas people do their Christmas shopping."
- Gregg Easterbrook, espn.com NFL columnist, used to have a feature in his weekly Tuesday Morning Quarterback column called "Christmas Creep", where he would list real-life examples of this trope that he found or were submitted by his readers. It became SO common, however, that he abandoned it in favor of the Unified Field Theory of Creep, where he lists all non-Christmas versions of this.
- Many radio stations will play nothing but Christmas music throughout November and December. Originally, they'd only play Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day or at the most, the week of Christmas.
- WSFF FM, a variety hits radio station in Roanoke, Virginia, refuses to play Christmas music in November or early December, citing this trope as a reason. They even state "Has everyone forgotten about Thanksgiving?"
- In the song "We Need a Little Christmas" from the 1966 musical Mame (adaptation of Auntie Mame), the lyric "But, Auntie Mame, it's one week past Thanksgiving Day now!", implies that it's far too early to be starting the Christmas season. Now that lyric is often changed to one week until Thanksgiving, as even most critics of the Christmas creep would not consider post-Thanksgiving to be too early by modern standards.
- The Simpsons brings this up quite often, most notably in "Treehouse of Horror XIV", a Halloween special that was pre-empted and aired in early November, Kang and Kodos mention in the intro "Who is watching a Halloween special in November? We already have our Christmas decorations up!"
- In King of the Hill, Bill becomes a Mall Santa, and keeps his suit and Christmas decorations at his house well after Christmas, even up until March. Dale remarks by saying "They start Christmas earlier and earlier each year!"
- An episode of Garfield and Friends has Garfield putting up Christmas decorations during a July heat wave as part of an attempt to "think cool". When Jon's neighbours see he has his decorations up early, they decide to put theirs up early too, which leads to everyone in town thinking it's already Christmas and celebrating the holiday early before they remember it's still July. Even Santa Claus is fooled.
- In the South Park episode "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", Cartman is looking forward to Christmas on the day before Halloween, to the point of circling what he wants in a shopping catalogue and singing Christmas carols while he and his friends set up their Zany Scheme to scare the fifth graders. Eventually, a delivery man shows up with a package for his mother, but Cartman assumes it's his Christmas present and takes a peek. It turns out to be an Antonio Banderas love doll, but Cartman is estatic over it.
- Truth in Television. It happens in many countries, in fact everywhere where Christmas is celebrated. Some stores and businesses do it more blatantly than others, though some try to avoid it on purpose and focus on all autumn holidays.[[Note]]No need to list specific examples.[[/Note]]
- In Europe, Christmas candy (especially marzipan, ginger bread or Christmas cookies and cakes) are usually available in stores from September or October. Most European countries don't celebrate Halloween the way Americans do and the alternative is more low-key, and also Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday. The Christmas craze can escalate.
- M&Ms used to have candies in "autumn" colors, with items like leaves or perhaps a (Thanksgiving) turkey on the shell instead of the M. Then around Black Friday, the red and green candies for Xmas appeared. Then, some years ago, the autumn colors were replaced with orange and black candies for Halloween; they now go straight into the Xmas colors on November 1. Some of the Christmas candy varieties have white ones as well.
- Office Christmas parties are held from the beginning of November. It is partly for practical reasons; if the party is being held too close to Christmas, people won't have time to attend because they need to make various, typical holiday preparations.