Christmas in July
Promotional material for 2007 Christmas in Winter festival in Tulbagh, South Africa
|Also known as||Midwinter Christmas, Christmas in Winter|
Werther, an 1892 opera with libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann, had an English translation published in 1894 by Elizabeth Beall Ginty. In the story, a group of children rehearses a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds: "When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season." It is a translation of the French: "vous chantez Noël en juillet... c'est s'y prendre à l'avance." This opera is based on Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. Christmas features in the book, but July does not.
The earliest known occasion to make the phrase Christmas in July literal was in July 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl's summer camp in North Carolina, which celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts, and a visit by Santa Claus. In 1935, the National Recreation Association's journal Recreation described what a Christmas in July was like at a girl's camp, writing that "all mystery and wonder surround this annual event."
The term, if not the exact concept, was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood movie comedy Christmas in July in 1940, written and directed by Preston Sturges. In the story, a man is fooled into believing he has won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys presents for family, friends, and neighbors, and proposes marriage to his girlfriend.
In 1942, the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., celebrated Christmas in July with carols and the sermon "Christmas Presents in July". They repeated it in 1943, with a Christmas tree covered with donations. The pastor explained that the special service was patterned after a program held each summer at his former church in Philadelphia, when the congregation would present Christmas gifts early to give ample time for their distribution to missions worldwide. It became an annual event, and in 1945, the service began to be broadcast over local radio.
The U.S. Post Office and U.S. Army and Navy officials, in conjunction with the American advertising and greeting card industries, threw a Christmas in July luncheon in New York in 1944 to promote an early Christmas mailing campaign for service men and women overseas during World War II. The luncheon was repeated in 1945.
American advertisers began using Christmas in July themes in print for summertime sales as early as 1950. In the United States, it is more often used as a marketing tool than an actual holiday. Television stations may choose to re-run Christmas specials, and many stores have Christmas in July sales. Some individuals choose to celebrate Christmas in July themselves, typically as an intentionally transparent excuse to have a party. This is in part because most bargainers tend to sell Christmas goods around July to make room for next year's inventory.
In the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are in reverse to the Northern Hemisphere, with summer falling in December, January, and February, and with winter falling in June, July, and August. Therefore, in some southern hemisphere countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Comoros, Madagascar, Bolivia, Angola, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Samoa and South Africa, Christmas in July or Midwinter Christmas events are undertaken in order to have Christmas with a winter feel in common with the northern hemisphere. These countries still celebrate Christmas on December 25, in their summer, like the rest of the world.
In the Northern Hemisphere, a Christmas in July celebration is deliberately ironic; the July climate is typically hot and either sunny or rainy, as opposed to the cold and snowy conditions traditionally associated with Christmas celebrations in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Some people throw parties during July that mimic Christmas celebrations, bringing the atmosphere of Christmas but with warmer temperatures. Parties may include Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods, and gifts. Nightclubs often host parties open to the public.
The Hallmark Channel runs blocks of their original Christmas television films in July to coincide with the release of the Keepsake Ornaments in stores.
There is also Christmas in June. In some western countries, July has a limited number of marketing opportunities. In the United States and Canada, for example, there are no national holidays between the first week of July (Canada Day on July 1 in Canada and American Independence Day on July 4 in the United States) and Labo(u)r Day (the first Monday in September for both the US and Canada), leaving a stretch of about two months with no holidays (some Canadian provinces hold a Civic Holiday in August, but this is not a national holiday; the U.S. struck its lone August holiday, V-J Day, from the calendar in 1975, as the anniversary of the signing of the actual treaty of surrender, aboard the U.S.S. Missouri is officially observed under that name). The late July period provides relatively few opportunities for merchandising, since it is typically after the peak of summer product sales in June and early July, but before the "back to school" shopping period begins in August. Therefore, to justify sales promotions, shops (such as Leon's in Canada) will sometimes announce a "Christmas in July" sale.
Christmas in August (Yellowstone, USA)
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- Act I, Scene II.
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