Why Do We Holiday Too Early?

These times of the year are great, but how come we never celebrate holidays when we’re supposed to?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. I’m completely burnt out on the holidays because I’ve spent the last eight years working retail.

    We get all three holidays dumped on us all at once in late July and have to start putting them out by august. As soon as November 1st rolls around they start christmas music on the store radio (Which is even worse than our regular endless playlist of the same 50-ish songs because now its the same 30 or so songs, just with different people singing most of them)

    We never get to enjoy the holidays because we’re always working during them. Because part of this consumerist mindset means that Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving, and of course you’re going to go out to the stores on Halloween, why in the world would we ever let our fragile little children do something as dangerous as actually go trick-or-treating in the suburbs, they must do it at the mall or in a parking lot instead.

    We’re overworked, understaffed, underpaid, covered in glitter and dealing with customers at their absolutely most insufferably selfish and greedy moments for extended hours.

  2. Personally I start watching Halloween movies in September and Christmas movies in november cause it goes by so quick. I want to enjoy the season more. Every year it seems to go by faster and faster.

  3. That being said, I dread the day after New Years. That’s when the local grocery store starts selling their Easter merchandise.

  4. My observation: I remember the Christmas too early stuff was really getting out of hand until about the past decade or so…but that kind of changed in recent years.


    Because now we make a much bigger deal out of celebrating Halloween!

    It seems we celebrate Halloween for all of October, and I really don’t mind! I love the Fall season, and I love the foods and culture associated with Halloween…it’s definitely a holiday for us geeks and dreamers featuring supernatural and horror elements, costumes, and getting together with friends.

    So Christmas season feels shorter again, and that’s okay…because it already more or less takes up two months already, we didn’t need it to creep into october…that’s Jack Skellington’s domain, dammit!

    As for thanksgiving? It does get lost in the shuffle somewhat, especially during what used to be “Black Friday” with these unscrupulous retailers opening on Thanksgiving night and forcing their employees away from their families so some OCD cheapskate can get a sweater for a $5 less a few hours earlier then at the other box store.

  5. The Cartoon Physicist

    Yeah, though this is more of an American thing. My country, Australia, is very anti-Halloween (though some do celebrate) and of course Thanksgiving isn’t ours, so Christmas is the only thing we fuss about. Even earlier than Halloween because of that now that I think about it.

  6. I don’t have much of an opinion on this since I don’t do any holidays. LOL. Therefore, I agree with you about being a good person all year around.

    I might check out Best for a Buck… maybe… ESPECIALLY since the trailer included a cat!

  7. Snorgatch Pandalume

    As the great Tom Lehrer ironically sang in “National Brotherhood Week”:
    “Be nice to people who
    are inferior to you.
    It’s only for a week so have no fear
    be thankful that it doesn’t last all year!”

  8. Or, you know Doug, it could just simply be because we just love these holidays so much and we just want them to last longer. I have no problem with feeling Christmas while Halloween and Thanksgiving are going on, because it allows me to feel the holiday for much longer than just one fleeting day. I’d much rather start celebrating these holidays as soon as October starts so that I enjoy each one for a whole month rather than just barely catch and celebrate it for one day, or even one night in some cases. I still agree with a lot of the points you say, but sometimes there are simpler answers to big questions as well. And I believe it simply because we just love them so much. But it could just be me, October – December is my favorite quarter of the year, and these holidays are the main reason behind it. That said, as much as I would love to put the value I place in this time of the year in every other day in my life, I don’t usually get as much time or availability to do so, so having national holidays like this is typically the best time for me to do that, if not the only time. But it really is subjective, different answers for different people. I certainly know you’re going to freak out over Christmas like the rest of us are, but I say that that enthusiasm is worth celebrating, not criticizing. Well, unless it really is doing us more harm than good.

  9. Seeing this as someone in germany… we don’t really celebrate most of this holidays.
    Christmas, (a bit valentine in the last years,) Birthdays… that is really all.

    Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated (even tough the Church wants to), Halloween is coming.. a bit every year…

    Christmas is massively marketed as the only real holiday here.
    Yeah.. people are trying to be nice on christmas, and some families reunite and eat together.. but it is mostly ignored.

    I can remember last year at christmas eve, when I was late because I wanted to celebrate a bit of the day with a good friend, most people were out and didn’t really look like they cared about christmas.. even tough you can’t really escape the marketing (and constant public singings)

    • erdelf

      Back when I was working at a deli located in a grocery store, my German, mother of 2 kids, supervisor came to me and said, wide-eyed, ” Halloween is BIG here! You need the costume, the decorations, and the candy!” I had to laugh; It was such a culture shock to ME, who’d grown up in a family and a country that had always gone big on Halloween, to find western people to whom this was new.

      I love the holidays, and always have, but even I roll my eyes at retailers putting stuff out months in advance. They’re already playing Christmas ads on TV.

  10. I saw Christmas merchandise being put out in a local drugstore, in September.
    Yesterday, I saw my neighbor across the street putting up Christmas decorations.
    In mid-October, I saw that two other houses in my neighborhood had already started putting up their Christmas decorations.
    Last year, a local radio station (which is owned by a huge, national radio empire) started playing Christmas songs in mid-November.
    I called them up and complained.
    The DJ said that I was far from the only caller to do so, but that the station had orders from headquarters.
    I always put up my Halloween decorations on October 1st (and really go all-out on them), and ussually take them down around November 3rd.
    It’s funny…I actually found a (lone) inflatable turkey at my local drugstore about a month ago.
    I was looking for Halloween lights, and there it was, in the Halloween section, sitting on the bottom shelf, all by its lonesome.
    At 50% off.
    When I came back around November 2nd, it was still there…reduced by 90%.
    So I got a rather large Thanksgiving decoration which had been originally about $40.00, for about $5.00.
    I found a use for my left-over Halloween pumpkins, also.
    It turns out that they look just as good by the front door, for Thanksgiving, as they did for Halloween.
    I don’t start my Christmas shopping before December 1st; and I buy all of my gifts from local businesses (Books for my nephews from a small, local bookstore, cards, bath products, and clothing from the Arts market…etc.).
    Christmas time makes me glad to be an Atheist.
    My friends and I always have a good laugh at all of the self-proclaimed “morally superior” Christians obsessing about bargains for two or three months straight, forgoing any pretense of having any interest in observing a holiday created to be meek, cherish family, and give thanks to their creator; and instead racing around like ants in the Best Buys, fighting each other over the latest electronic thing, rioting at Wal-Marts, stealing nativity figurines from other people’s lawns…and just generally being utter hypocrites.
    “I’m a better person than you, because I worship a god of love and peace; and you don’t believe in god. Now excuse me while I go bash this person’s skull in, so I can get the last Tickle-Me-Elmo in the store”.

  11. There’s a reason Thanksgiving gets subsumed by Christmas so easily. As a holiday tradition, it was New England’s attempt to try and eradicate Christmas from the calendar that failed. It was the attempt to try and replace Christmas with a new holiday that was more to the values that Puritan-influenced New England wished were more central to Christmas than weren’t.

    The fact of the matter was though, that the idea of replacing Christmas with Thanksgiving never caught on outside of New England thanks to Christmas undergoing a makeover during the Victorian period which tamed it considerably. Up until the 1850s or so Christmas was banned in most of New England. What changed about that time is that Christmas was undergoing a Victorian makeover over in England thanks to Queen Victoria & Prince Albert’s attempt to connect the Royal Family with the burgeoning middle class with Christmas cards and Christmas trees (Victoria & Albert popularized that otherwise German tradition in the English speaking world), and a decade later Charles Dickens added to the makeover party with the publication of A Christmas Carol. But before then? Christmas was either illegal, considered taboo, or simply not celebrated in a few New England states, and instead Thanksgiving was their answer to such a ban. In 1870, Christmas became a Federal holiday in the US, and all those restrictions and bans went away and modern Christmas finally cemented itself into being.

    The holiday of Thanksgiving though did catch on in its own regard as Americans around the turn of the 20th Century went through an intense wave of patriotic fever and adopted the Pilgrim story as a foundation stone of American identity. So Thanksgiving thus became its own separate holiday alongside Christmas, instead of replacing it as had been originally intended.

    Why did New England want to replace Christmas? Because they’d learned that outright banning it had gotten them nowhere. For those who are interested, recall that New England was largely settled by Puritans who during their reign of England under the Commonwealth in the 1640s & 1650s outlawed Christmas altogether. The idea was that Christmas was a time that someone should either be spending in contemplative prayer, or at the very least in church. Christmas celebrations in those days were a wild debauched 12 days of feasting starting from December 25th and ending on the Feast of Fools on January 5th. Imagine if Halloween’s penchant for shaking things up, Thanksgiving’s feasting, and Christmas’ spirit of goodwill and merriment were all combined with St. Patrick’s Day’s drunkenness and debauchery. That’s what those 12 days were like each and every year, each getting a little worse and worse until you got to the Feast of Fools where everything was absolutely crazy.

    In addition there were all these un-Christian traditions that had infiltrated the holy day thanks to the Catholic Church’s appropriation of them, and a move away from that kind of Christmas was a move away from Catholicism as much as it was from the remote pagan associations and were a distraction from the true message of Christmas (to the Puritans). The Reformation wasn’t that distant a part of history to these folks, and anything to distinguish a purified Anglican faith from Catholic influence was seen as a good thing.

    Thanksgiving, created many many years after the Pilgrims’ feast, was instituted as a replacement holiday when the Puritan-descended people of New England realized that they wanted a holiday celebrated at that time of year but which supported their values of thankfulness and family, and which didn’t interfere with the Christmas season when everyone was supposed to be thinking on Christ & or going to Church.

    So yeah, Thanksgiving is a remnant of the original War on Christmas (that Puritans & their descendants wished to eradicate) that was appropriated after several generations failed to achieve what they’d set out to do. So to me, seeing it be subsumed by Christmas marketing is a nice ironic twist to life, and in a way continues the old War on Christmas in a new and different way.

  12. The problem I have is that all the buildup burns me out. When Christmas stuff gets promoted in October then by the time Christmas actually comes I’m tired of it.

    Simple rule: no Halloween stuff until October, no Thanksgiving stuff until November, no Christmas stuff until December.

  13. We do seem to be getting ready for Christmas earlier and earlier. Next thing you know we’ll be shopping for our trees after the 4th of July, then Memorial Day, St Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s day, and New Year’s Day. Next thing you know we’ll be replacing our trees on Boxing Day, or just get an artificial tree and leave it up all year.

  14. I dunno, man. : / I don’t know why Thanksgiving is getting less and less appeal for MOST people. Me personally, I just don’t like Thanksgiving cause I’m a rather picky eater and I’m not too fond of hanging out with extended family. And by extended family, I mean the extended family on my step-parent’s sides because most of my biological family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Top it off with family drama from my step families, and it’s kinda hard to feel thankful when I feel like there isn’t much to be thankful for.

    As for Christmas, the cult kinda ruined it for me too. It took a while for me to appreciate the idea of Christmas, and now that I DO appreciate it, I’m in a situation where I can barely afford to get my girlfriend something worthwhile. If I could, I would get my parents something, but I kinda limit myself to one person with my budget. Same thing with Halloween – I’d dress up more often if I felt I could afford it.

    It’s just my opinion, though. Take it for what it’s worth.

  15. Holidays are about community and making stuff together that’s why so lil’ people dress like Dracula on everyday ocasion – beeing a white crown’s not that fun.

  16. And BTW, Thanksgiving is a shitty holiday. What’d ya choose:

    a) getting diabetes while hanging out in silly costume, fucking mummy

    b) getting presents and drinking yourself to death (while fucking mummy)


    c) guttling on roasted bird

  17. Because.. nostalgia?

  18. I went into Rite Aid on the first Wednesday of October and found all the Halloween stuff was fifty percent off and the aisle was already being cleared out. There were boxes of Christmas stuff at the edge of the aisle in boxes. I shouldn’t feel like Halloween is over during the first week of October!

  19. I know it’s not true of everyone, but I always associate Halloween with togetherness and family, at least since high school. At my old house, I lived in a very non-interactive neighborhood. I only saw my neighbors like once or twice a year. But the one time we’d all come together as a community was at the Halloween party for all the families, when we’d go into the street and carve pumpkins and eat things. For Halloween night, kids wouldn’t get candy unless they told a good joke. Not only that, but my school hosted a Halloween party(conservative Christian school Halloween party, which was a joke in itself) and I was never really a popular kid, but I’d always win the costume contests by a landslide. And now that I’ve been in college for several years, Halloween is usually the one time in the entire semester when I can convince all my friends to drop everything and hang out. Not only that, but for me, Halloween lingers into the next month a little(can’t say that for Christmas–it usually goes away after the 25th), and the values I take from Halloween translate to Thanksgiving.

  20. I tend to keep the celebration of each holiday limited to a specific timeframe. I won’t eat Halloween candy/themed food or do anything until October. Right after that, I go into Thanksgiving mode and think about my plans for that day. Then, once Thanksgiving has passed, I go full into Christmas mode..we actually wait until the first day and or/first weekend of December to decorate.

    The only places that make a big deal out of Thanksgiving are mostly grocery stores and other places that sell a lot of food. The place I work (Target) does have Christmas stuff already, but not overly so..and they do acknowledge Thanksgiving a bit (since most Target stores do have a grocery department).

  21. Thanksgiving is a US holiday….The closest equivalent over here would be Bonfire Night when Protestants throw a Catholic effigy on a pyre! – Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and ok even Halloween are much more widespread.
    St Patrick’s Day is the surprise new one – It annoys me to no end that St Patrick’s Day {An Irish Saint’s Day} is bigger over here {England} than St George’s Day {Which gets the short end of the stick thanks to our Government’s hatred of all things English!

    I can’t stand Valentine’s Day, Don’t celebrate Halloween and am always at my most depressed on New Year’s Eve

    Oh and to the person who equated Thanksgiving with Boxing Day – You do realise Boxing Day isn’t actually a specific holiday in itself but a part of Christmas right? It’s the day after when you’re getting over the festivities.
    Easter Monday is a Bank Holiday but the actual day of the Holiday is Sunday!

  22. But if I wear my reindeer skull all year, people will think I’m a weirdo.

  23. I agree with that for the most part. I tend to associate the holiday with the season. I’m not into Christmas until winter and I’m not into Halloween until fall. That said, I am a bit more obsesses with Halloween, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who feel the same way about it that I do. It’s a time when the strange, the supernatural, the unknown are more accepted. People welcome it. For those who have no choice in being “different”, Halloween is that one time of year when you feel more socially accepted. Any other time of the year, talking about werewolves makes people think you’re crazy. Around Halloween, they either don’t care or welcome the strangeness.

  24. I don’t know about the rest of the holidays, Doug…but when it comes to Christmas I think you’ve missed out on one big thing: society has changed.

    In the days of our grandparents and parents, everyone stayed around home all year and only one parent worked. Now there’s a lot more single families or ones with two working parents. Everyone is more rushed nowadays. Everyone is subject to sensory overload. In spite of all of our advantages, we’re rushing more and working more than ever. I myself live alone, work a full time job, and commute an extra 90 minutes to two hours every day. A lot of people “bring their work home with them” too, and that’s on top of everything else around the house.

    There was a time I got sore about “Christmas starting too early”, and I was that way for years. I was determined not to do anything until December. December got here and Christmas came and went…and I realized I felt so unsatisfied. I realize it had come and gone so fast I felt like I had slept through half of it. I only needed to look at the calendar to face the reality of the situation…there are a grand total of six weekends left until Christmas as of this time. That translates to 12 weekdays, which is the only time many of us have our own time or anyone else’s to shop, decorate, bake, plan family gatherings/parties, etc. 12 days…that’s it. Even if I’m not one of those insane shoppers who tramples people to death on Black Friday and I’m vehemently opposed to this crap about opening stores on Thanksgiving (which I am), that’s not a lot of time and absolutely each of my everyday concerns are still going to be there up to and through the holidays.

    So…yeah, I’m actually kind of in favor of starting that one early. Maybe not to really “get into it”, but at least to start doing the preliminary stuff, including the shopping, so that I’m not showing my “Christmas Spirit” in December by shoving other mall-goers out of the way or screaming at traffic and can spend more time at home making the tree look nice and listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or something like that.

  25. Thank you, capitalism!

  26. I feel bad for not knowing about Saint Jude’s hospital. Hey, you referenced caregiving in your editorial! How appropriate! I thought in the previous video, you said you didn’t like it how “Pokémon” was popular. You showed a Zubat cosplayer, you hypocrite! You really don’t have a consistent idealogy, do you?

  27. I think the problem is not that people want an excuse to stay happy all the time. I think people shouldn’t be excessively happy all the time. The importance of holiday in earlier times was to have a break from hard work, time with your family and cherishing the things that make live worth continuing. But these days people seem to do nothing but celebrate the whole year anyway. They desperately try to force everything challenging and inconvinient out of their live so that they can stay all year inside their own little neat comfort zone. So holidays and festivals aren’t a special occasion to forget the harshness of live any more. They are just another way of escaping the things that upset you and tide you over to the next occasion of escapism.

  28. i think here in mexico we have a little problem, well i actually don’t see it as a big problem but it is, because we don’t really celebrate our traditions anymore such as ‘dia de muertos’ which is celebrated on november 1st and 2nd because of halloween. it’s not something that bad but it’s kind of sad, i like halloween but i like more dia de muertos. Also thanksgiving is nothing here.

  29. It’s a bit simple, inn’it?
    Every company wants to get people’s holiday money, so they keep pushing the date up to compete with each other.

    As for the waning emphasis on Thanksgiving, I think part of it is there’s just not a whole lot of cash flow involved (so it gets less PR), and that, sadly, without some focal point (like Christmas, Halloween, New Years, etc) a good number of families don’t really get along very well.
    Nothing like being stuck at a table being browbeaten by your parents and having to put up with your racist uncle and alcoholic aunt to bring out the holiday cheer.

  30. I remember when holidays were something I was suppose to care about and look forward to but I never really did.

    1:35 – I don’t care about the holidays in the least other than finding the interruption of TV schedules irritating as well as the overcrowding in stores when I just want to do my regular shopping.

    3:20 – I don’t recall being happy in the past. I recall my parents being excited about taking me to see Santa or the Easter Bunny but it was just an annoyance to me.

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