In the middle of a hot summer in America, the thought of Christmas in July can sound refreshing in terms of both the snowy weather and the cheerfulness of shopping for and receiving gifts that of conjures up in our minds.
In the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in Australia, December 25 is a date that falls in the midst of Australia’s hot summer season. Christmas in July is a way of celebrating a “second” Christmas during winter weather.
No one knows for certain when the concept of Christmas in July originated. One possible source is the libretto from an 1892 opera called “Werther,” which was based on Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther.”
An English translation from 1894 features a group of children rehearsing a Christmas song in July. A character sings in response, “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”
Another early reference to Christmas in July comes from a girls’ summer camp in North Carolina during the Great Depression. In 1935, an article in the magazine Recreation, published by the National Recreation Association, described Camp Keystone’s celebrating Christ’s birth in the month of July with gifts, a Christmas tree and other decorations and even a visit from Santa Claus for the campers.
In 1940, Hollywood released a motion picture titled – you guessed it – “Christmas in July.” Written and directed by Preston Sturges, the film starred Dick Powell and Ellen Drew. In the comedy, a man (Powell) is tricked into believing he has won $25,000, and he uses the windfall to buy gifts for friends and family and to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend (Drew).
Beginning in 1942, Washington D.C.’s Calvary Baptist Church began honoring “Christmas in July” with a special church service, holiday decorations and gifts. In 1945, the service was broadcast live over local radio.
In 1944, the U.S. Post Office coordinated with the U.S. Army and Navy and with American advertising and greeting card companies to promote a Christmas in July mailing campaign to honor for the men and women serving overseas during World War II.
How about Christmas TV movies in July? The Hallmark Channel runs some of their original Christmas films in July to coincide with the release of that year’s Keepsake Ornaments in retail stores.
Christmas traditions often reflect the local culture. In parts of Denmark, people use a play on words as a reason to celebrate Christmas in July. Although “Jul i Juli” is not an official holiday, many people enjoy decorating for Christmas and exchanging Christmas gifts during the summer.
Summer celebrations are not limited to July either. Over two decades ago, a power outage ruined New Years for residents of Berchules, a small town in Spain. The disruption caused the festivities to be held in late August instead. As the Wall Street Journal reported, it has been a tradition ever since.
We do not know for certain when Jesus was born, but it is unlikely the date was December 25. In fact, many Bible scholars believe He was born in the early fall.
Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas in July or not, evoking the spirit of Christmas in the summer months can serve as a good reminder to honor God’s precious gift of His Son all year long.