Perhaps you’ve seen these famously North Pole-centric characters during your summer shopping adventures: a beach-bound Santa looking cool in his sunglasses and swimsuit, or a group of elves working hard on a surfboard under the beaming summer sun. The first time you see them, it may seem a bit strange. Until you realize that it’s all part of Christmas in July. At this point, most of us have heard about this “second Christmas,” but how much do we really know about it?
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What Is Christmas in July Anyway?
Christmas in July is a once-a-year occasion where people get the opportunity to enjoy all their favorite things about its December 25 namesake, from Christmas carols to Christmas cookies. Anyone up for a festive holiday party or a sandy sleigh ride?! It’s a fun way to bring a little holiday joy to the middle of the year. In fact, you could celebrate Christmas all month long, and many do. Or you could recognize July 25 – the halfway point – as THE Christmas in July holiday date.
And Where Did It Come From?
There have been quite a few different theories as to where Christmas in July originated, including an 1892 French opera and the 1940 Hollywood movie. However, according to legend, and confirmed by reporters at Southern Living magazine, the idea surfaced at a girl’s summer camp in 1933. On the border of the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, North Carolina, the Keystone Camp hosted the very first Christmas in July celebration at the request of the camp’s co-founder Fannie Holt. The celebration included the giving of gifts, a Christmas tree, caroling and a Santa Claus as part of the inaugural festivities. Seems it was a big success and the tradition spread and evolved from there. But how far exactly?
What Countries Recognize Christmas in July?
Besides the United States, there are several other countries that recognize Christmas in July. Among them are Australia, South Africa and Canada.
It makes quite a bit of sense that Australia would celebrate Christmas in July since their actual Christmas falls smack dab in the middle of their summer months. Living in the Southern Hemisphere, their December 25 is already associated with beaches and barbeques. When things cool down during the winter month of July, it’s a prime time to break out the eggnog, hot cocoa, roaring holiday fires and twinkling Christmas lights.
South Africa holds a pretty significant and sizeable event called the Hogsback Xmas in July Winter Festival on a small mountain in the central-southern part of the country. And in Canada, particularly in Quebec, some of the most popular traditions of the holiday season are observed at campsites across the provinces, in a celebration called Camper’s Christmas.
5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in July
What’s so exciting about this annual event is that if you really want to celebrate the Christmas season during the month of July, you have permission to go “all out”. Just like the girl’s camp in North Carolina almost 90 years ago. But here are a few quick ideas to get you inspired.
1. Decorate, decorate, decorate! Put up a Christmas tree, wreaths, twinkling lights or just about anything Christmas themed to add holiday joy to your home. FYI: The Bradford Exchange has a wide selection of Christmas decor worth checking out.
2. Watching your favorite Christmas movies or listening to Christmas music is a quick way to get into the holiday mood, even when it’s 85 degrees out.
3. Plan a Christmas-themed party and ask everyone to dress for the occasion. Perhaps an Ugly Sweater Party? Maybe a round of Pin the Nose on the Reindeer? They are always popular happenings in December. Plus, sharing your love of the season with others only spreads more holiday fun around.
4. If you love to bake, consider making your favorite Christmas treats. Rolling out a few batches of delicious sugar cookies decorated with festive frosting, a beautiful winter cake or your top-secret brownie recipe will not only feel great, but your family and friends are sure to love the fringe benefits.
5. Having a gift exchange with those you care about is a wonderful way to make it feel like the “most wonderful time of the year”. You could even coordinate the exchange to happen during a Christmas party (see #2) to round out the event. After all, everyone loves receiving presents!
Merry Christmas (in July)! We hope we’ve answered a few questions regarding this unusual but awesome yearly occurrence. Most of all, we hope you were so inspired by today’s post that you fetched your Christmas decorations out of the attic, got out your famous Christmas cookies recipe and started humming “Jingle Bells” involuntarily. ‘Tis the season after all.Christmas in July 101: The Origins Behind Our 2nd Christmas by The Bradford Exchange