Can Anything Be Done to Stop Christmas Music Playing in Stores?

The term of art for this phenomenon is “Christmas creep.” But is Christmas really creeping?

I was recently deflated to find a store playing Christmas music—loudly—the day after Halloween. Can anything be done to stop (or at least postpone) this awful slop? We all know it’s just a corporate mind trick to make us spend more. —Grumbler

The Christmas season long ago breached the once presumed to be impenetrable Maginot Line of Thanksgiving. Now, as you note, it’s massing its forces on the brink of October. If Halloween falls, there’ll be nothing to stop Yuletide from marching virtually unimpeded through a hopelessly outgunned Labor Day straight up to the Fourth of July and beyond.

The term of art for this phenomenon is “Christmas creep.” But is Christmas really creeping? The phrase has been in use since at least the 1960s, and I found a complaint about October Christmas ads “rushing the season” in a newspaper from all the way back in 1901. Is Christmas creep one of those eternal gripes, like how old people have been railing against young people’s terrible music and lack of respect for fine lawn care since Plato’s time?

Another example: In 2015, a story went viral about Nordstrom’s “one holiday at a time” policy—no Christmas decorations in their stores until after Thanksgiving. The internet rejoiced that, finally, someone was taking a long-overdue stand against Christmas creep—but then it turned out that, actually, Nordstrom had been doing the same thing every year since at least the 1980s.

If every generation has the same complaint, one explanation is that nothing is changing. Maybe it’s just an illusion that the Christmas season is expanding. Maybe there’s actually nothing to be concerned about? Perhaps Crimea has always been part of Rus—hang on, what’s this? Why, it’s an October 2021 press release from Nordstrom. In it, they promise Christmas-themed photo booths, an in-store “Holiday Gift Shop,” and visits with Santa—all starting Oct. 4.

If every generation has the same complaint, another explanation is that the thing being complained about really has been getting continually shittier, every year, forever. By this logic, Justin Bieber is literally the worst thing ever, Plato must have had a lawn to die for, and it’s only a matter of time until the Christmas season actually starts before the Christmas of the previous year—and God only knows what kind of unholy interdimensional time portals that will unleash upon the world. Good luck.

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.