Created By: PaulieRomanov on November 9, 2012 Last Edited By: XFllo on October 3, 2013
Troped

Christmas Creep

They're starting Christmas earlier and earlier each year

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Trope

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 '90s (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.

Indexes:


Examples:

Comic Strip
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Music
  • 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!"

New Media
  • 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.

Radio
  • 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?"

Theatre
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.

Real Life
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 59
  • November 9, 2012
    LancelotG
    • 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.
  • November 9, 2012
    LancelotG
    • Nordstrom averts this by making a point of not putting out Christmas displays until after Thanksgiving.
  • November 9, 2012
    TonyG
    This was the inspiration for 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 still being taken down.
  • November 10, 2012
    PaulieRomanov
    Thanks for the examples, keep'em coming!
  • November 10, 2012
    DracMonster
    If I recall, the Peanuts one had a store with a sign reading something like "Only 246 more shopping days till Christmas." That would make an excellent page image.

    EDIT: Hah, found it here, fourth image down. Dunno if it would still be readable reduced to 350 pixels wide. Let me try editting it.
  • November 10, 2012
    DracMonster
    Did it, stick [[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/EasterBCXmas_3870.jpg]] at the top of your description. (Images get screwy in ykttw replies)
  • November 15, 2012
    XFllo
    Another example for "Other/Real Life":
    • CD-ROM of Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (8th edition, OUP, 2006) has a section called Cultural guide and it has a short informative article about Christmas. One sentence really says it all: "Shops are decorated for Christmas from September and in the weeks before Christmas people do their Christmas shopping."
  • November 15, 2012
    PaulA
    Can we restrict this to examples of works that discuss or make use of the phenomenon, and avoid lists of real-life places that do or don't succumb to creep?
  • November 16, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    This reminds me of there already being speculative talk on some cable news networks about the 2016 (U.S. presidential) election, just days after this last one... Oy vey.
  • November 16, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    (deleted: example already given--how'd I miss that?)
  • November 16, 2012
    Frank75
    In Germany, it usually starts with christmas cookies in the shops. In September. And yes, people here complain about it too.
  • November 16, 2012
    SKJAM
    Sadly, I don't remember the title of the short story, but one SF magazine ran a story in which this 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.
  • November 16, 2012
    XFllo
    @Paul A: Yes, I'd be for that, too, and I think it's only tropeworthy if we collect enough examples from fiction that were used for story-telling.
  • November 16, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Christmas Creep isn't bad, but I keep interpreting it wrong. I want to say Creeping Christmas Commercialism, but that's a bit long.
  • November 16, 2012
    DracMonster
    Actually, it's not too long and it does communicate the trope more clearly.
  • November 16, 2012
    bwburke94
    Christmas Creep is the established term.

    ... Can we get this launched on (American) Thanksgiving, just for the fun of it? We still have a ways to go!
  • November 16, 2012
    Stratadrake
    You mean next Thursday?

  • November 16, 2012
    MorganWick
    Creeping Christmas Commercialism sounds like the plot of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    If we have to rename it, I almost want to name it after the banner in the Peanuts special.
  • November 17, 2012
    dvorak
    NVM, already have
  • December 25, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In one Shoe comic strip published and taking place on July 1st, Perfessor Cosmo "celebrates" July 1st as the day when his Chiristmas 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.)
  • December 25, 2012
    TBTabby
    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 neighbors 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.
  • December 25, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Several things before this article can be published. Change all the media titles to AC. For example, "[[AC:Radio]]" or "[[AC:WesternAnimation]]". Second, link and italicize all the works, like ''{{ComicStrip/Peanuts}}'' or ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas''. I've left the code visible so you can copy it.
  • September 11, 2013
    XFllo
    BUMPING. Why was this abandoned? If nobody else does it, I might volunteer to become a new trope sponsor. :-)
  • September 11, 2013
    NateTheGreat
  • September 11, 2013
    arromdee
    I'd crop the image so that it doesn't need to be shrunken as much and is easier to read. That image has a lot of dead space that can be cropped without losing anything.
  • September 11, 2013
    NESBoy
    In a variation, I-Mockery starts celebrating Halloween as early as September.
  • September 13, 2013
    CrazyLegs2
    Satired in Straight No Chaser's song "The Christmas Can-Can": "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!" (You have to hear it to appreciate it.)
  • September 13, 2013
    XFllo
    A general request for all contributors in YKTTW. It's kindly meant. Pretty please, put examples in proper mark-up and indicate which folder they belong to. Write them as if you were editing the wiki itself. If possible, use links to our wiki. Explain Your Examples.

    I don't know who or what is Straight No Chaser or I-Mockery (hope I don't look too culturally-challenged) and I have to click the links. (Sometimes even googling is necessary.) Makes sponsoring a trope much harder work than it could be. Thanks.
    And thanks for the examples. The Christmas cancan is indeed wonderful. Made me look forward to wonderfully commercial Christmas. Now in September. Truly.
  • September 13, 2013
    XFllo
    I think we should limit real life examples as was noted above. It would get tedious listing how each store deals with it.
  • September 15, 2013
    alnair20aug93
    The Philippines starts their Christmas season as early as mid-September. Which is odd, coz it's mid-September already.
  • September 15, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Should that be added as example? It's a real life example without any link to media or relation to history or famous people. I'm not sure if it is noteworthy. It seems it happens everywhere. People would just keep adding their countries.
  • September 16, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^Meh, I'd say No Real Life Examples Please due to it being an Omnipresent Trope in Real Life.
  • September 16, 2013
    XFllo
    ^I think not. The Tim Burton example fits better there than in literature because it's never explicitly state in the film or the poem. And people might have something interesting from media.

    EDIT: After just a few days, I think you might be right. People keep adding examples about concrete shops, cities or countries. Which is no fun.
  • September 16, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^Honestly I think that could go under film, but ok. It probably should have a note not to just add example of stores doing this (Those would effectively be a variant of Troper Tales.)
  • September 19, 2013
    Arivne
    Newspaper Comics
    • 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.
  • September 20, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • September 20, 2013
    XFllo
    I plan to launch it soon, but I hope for more examples. We have quite a few, but lots of the works don't have a page, so there will be few wicks. Seven wicks is not a high number.

    What about indexes? Christmas Tropes, obviously, but other than that?
  • September 20, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • 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.
  • September 20, 2013
    CrazyLegs2
    If this is the title we're going with, it would also count under Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • September 21, 2013
    MonaNaito
    With regards to indexes, it'd also go under Tropes For Sale.
  • September 21, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Because of how I interpreted the title the first time I saw it, I suggest adding this line to the end:

    "Not to be confused with someone who hates Christmas."
  • September 21, 2013
    CleoMenona
    Not sure what to call this example, but:

    In the song "We Need a Little Christmas" from the 1966 musical 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.
  • September 21, 2013
    XFllo
    ^^ Re: Ultramarine Alizarin's comment:

    Did others misunderstand it? I saw Christmas Creep is established term for this phenomenon. I'm not an English native speaker and had to learn it, but when I first saw the draft, I didn't think it could be a person. But if there are more people confused, then why not. :-)

    ^ I think Theatre is best for musicals. :-)
  • September 22, 2013
    Lawman592
    Another Real Life example:
    • A shopping mall in the Pacific Northwest used to put up its outdoor Christmas decorations in mid-October until customer complaints stopped the practice. Supposedly the reason for doing this was because it would be too icy to put up the decorations if they waited until November.
  • September 22, 2013
    Arivne
  • September 22, 2013
    XFllo
    ^^ We shouldn't be adding these examples. There would be too many of them and that would be no fun. If you read the whole discussion, you'll see there were many people voicing this opinion.

    ^ Christmas Creep is the title we will definitely use. :-) The issue is if that's confusing to non-native speakers and if we should add a line not to confuse it with The Grinch.
  • September 22, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^ I actually did interpret the title as being about a creepy person around christmas time, and not a marketing thing. Before reading the description.
  • September 22, 2013
    XFllo
    ^^ Ok, that's two of you... Might be worth it, then. Lat's see.
  • September 22, 2013
    joshbl56
    Why not just change the title to Creeping Christmas or Christmas Happens Early This Year? (yeah, probably not the second one just because it's absurdly long).

    Also, a question about the section before examples: It mentions that the UK stays away from this by "Christmas season officially begin(ing) in October, the beginning of the "Christmas Quarter"? This trope is about Christmas decorations/talk about Christmas happening very early and October seems kind of early for Christmas. I'm probably reading it wrong though.
  • September 22, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Real Life: 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.)
  • September 22, 2013
    XFllo
    The description is not my work. I don't know that much about it. Do any British tropers have an insight on it? Personally I interpreted it that sonce they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, beginning early is sort of justified. But I don't know how they feel about that.

    This title is used outside of this wiki. Lots of people agreed to it, so we're going with it.

    ^ That's in my opinion one of the good Real Life examples. But lots of people suggest No Real Life Examples Please. I am worried that people will be adding which stores/cities/countires do that and which don't.
  • September 24, 2013
    Arivne
    Newspaper Comics
    • 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.
  • September 24, 2013
    spideydude
    I guess this example would belong in New Media.

    • 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.
  • September 24, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    Semi-real life: On many local TV news shows (at least where I am) on December 26th they run a story about people returning Christmas gifts and stores' post-Christmas sales, and invariably end with the line "remember, there are only 364 days left until Christmas."
  • September 25, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ That would be TV section, methinks.
  • September 25, 2013
    NESBoy
    And we have to specify where RandomSurfer lives.

    • 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.
  • September 26, 2013
    Kinswaous
    Two Real Life examples from Norway (although they might be more global than that):
    • Christmas candy (especially marzipan) is usually available in stores from October. Same thing with Easter candy, which is made available in the middle of Lent (most Norwegians are Protestant, and don't recognize Lent anyway)
    • Office Christmas parties are held from the beginning of November. This 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 the various, typical holiday preparations.
  • September 26, 2013
    XFllo
    I'm really, really torn about Real Life examples.
  • September 26, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Maybe should limit it to... something?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=f3q5i54j3on3qdfexhp4aj03&trope=ChristmasCreep