Every year, it seems the holidays creep into stores and advertisements earlier and earlier. In many places, holiday lights replace Halloween decorations the very next day (or even before October 31st)! Stores begin to offer deals in late October or early November. But the real commercial rush of the season doesn’t occur until late November, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday is the informal name given to the day when holiday sales and ads skyrocket. Last year, American shoppers spent a record $5 billion in 24 hours. Three days later, US history was made when shoppers spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday.
But commercial trends don’t necessarily dictate the start of the holiday season for all people; sometimes traditions hold more influence. For many families, the holiday season begins on Thanksgiving, when relatives and friends gather to celebrate their blessings. Though we now know Thanksgiving to be the fourth Friday of November, the timing of the holiday has historically shifted. In 1933, during the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day one week earlier in hopes that this would help boost retail sales and encourage the economy’s recovery.
In New York City, the holiday season is considered to officially begin with the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree. Every Christmas season since 1933, a massive Norway spruce (generally 69-100 feet tall) is erected at the Rockefeller Center. The tree is lit as part of a public ceremony sometime around late November/early December. It is decorated with 50,000 multicolored lights and a lit star at the top; the 2018 star is 9.5 feet in diameter and weighs 550 pounds. This year, the lighting is scheduled for November 28.
The start of the holiday season varies from place to place, culture to culture, and tradition to tradition. At Olney, the holiday season began in August, when serious prep for our holiday musical Elf was in the works. For our Artistic Director, Jason Loewith, the holidays start the day after his birthday (August 24) when he begins listening to Christmas music! Regardless of the traditions you may observe or the shopping you may partake in, we at OTC would like to wish you the happiest of holidays! We hope you join us in the celebrations.