Christmas in July – but why?

As we wrap up July here in Oregon, temperatures hanging out around the high 80’s most days, Christmas is likely the last thing on most peoples minds. Seeing as I’ve always got Christmas on the mind I wanted to take a deeper look into the origins of Christmas in July.

For most, these words are usually just seen on advertisements for sales at car lots, or furniture stores. Others use it as an excuse to snuggle down in an air conditioned home and watch Christmas movies on The Hallmark channel. This year with people coming out of heavy travel and visiting restrictions, I’ve heard of a handful of families getting caught up on missed holidays and actually having a full family Christmas celebration in July!

Image of Santa on the beach from a vintage Panama City Florida ad campaign.

It wasn’t hard to do a quick search and come up with a pretty agreed upon origin story for Christmas in July. As it happens, Christmas in July was first recorded as having been celebrated in July 88 years ago on July 24th and 25th, 1933 at a girls’ camp called Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina. Whimsical camp co-founder Fannie Holt is said to be the brainchild behind the idea. The first celebration included carolers, a Christmas Tree, an appearance by the big guy himself, fake snow and of course presents. As the years rolled on, campers would come to use laundry sacks as makeshift stockings, and then place them outside their cabins on the eve of July 24th. Eventually elves, live reindeer, and Mrs. Claus joined the act.

Most accounts say that after a number of years the Summer festivities began to spread outside the camp. Campers would tell their friends and family and eventually becoming something of a Southern tradition. It wasn’t long before marketers took notices and Christmas in July sales began to pop up. Seeing as there aren’t any major gift giving holidays once Mothers and Fathers day pass, this was a great opportunity for businesses to bump up lagging summer sales numbers.

I did also find references to Christmas in July celebrations being held in the Southern hemisphere. South of the equator, December 25th is in the middle of summer, so some people, especially expats from the Northern hemisphere have taken to throwing an additional Christmas in July celebration to experience some of the delights of Christmas in the colder months. Australia seems to be the largest celebrator of Christmas in July with small events at bars, the beach and other locations all over the continent.

Last but not least in my Christmas in July finds, Texas based, Blue Bell Creamery had a (sadly discontinued) Christmas Cookies in July flavor! “Let’s Celebrate Christmas in July! Your favorite holiday cookies – chocolate chip, snicker-doodle, and sugar – combined in a tasty sugar cookie ice cream with festive red sprinkles and a green icing swirl throughout.“, reads the label. Sounds great to me! Blue Bell, how about you bring that back just for one more go?

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