Mariah Carey just announced that her new single “Fall In Love at Christmas” will be released this Friday, and the reactions were split. Her fans were ecstatic about the news, but most complained that November has just begun.
Halloween is over, Thanksgiving looms, and there’s really only one important question on our minds: When is it socially acceptable to start listening to Christmas music?
Don’t pay attention to the rest of the world — enjoy Christmas music whenever you want.
Those of us who listen to Christmas music at “inappropriate” times face constant shaming. We have to fight to listen to Christmas music, arguing with those who make the mistake of waiting too long or, in a fit of humbuggery, refuse to listen at all.
There is no other genre of music that people attempt to prohibit during certain times of the year, and no other genre of music directly linked to the calendar. No one suggests that you should listen to country music only in the summertime, or that you rap music only when you’re working out.
Nobody complains when I turn up the volume on Taylor Swift’s “August” in the middle of March, “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood in July, and “Honey in the Summer” by PUBLIC in October.
Guns n’ Roses toured America this summer, playing to big crowds from coast to coast, including Comerica Park in Detroit on Aug. 8. I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure nobody booed when the band played “November Rain” at this seasonally inappropriate moment.
I typically start listening to Christmas music when it starts to get cold and I need to whip out my winter coat. Just last week, I listened to Phil Wickham’s entire Christmas album on a long car ride. This acoustic rendition of classic Christmas songs is delicate and peaceful, and the Christian songs are perfect for prayer and study. I even listened to this album over the summer.
For many, this is scandalous. If it hasn’t started snowing, why listen to Bing Crosby’s dreaming of a “White Christmas”?
Well, two days ago, Hillsdale had its first minor flurries. And snow already has fallen in the northern reaches of the state as well as Colorado and parts of the Pacific Northwest.
No one cares if you listen to Christmas music in December, but if you start earlier people may think you’re fast-forwarding to Christmas and celebrating way too soon.
The real problem may be that we don’t listen to Christmas music too soon, but we don’t listen to it long enough.
A Christian radio station in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio —104.9 The River — starts playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, and stops the day after Christmas.
It ended the Christmas season on December 25, even though liturgically Christians celebrate Christmas until Epiphany.
You might hope a Christian station would know better.
That’s the meaning of a famous song, by the way: “The 12 Days of Christmas” are supposed to begin on Christmas Day. People who are sensitive to the calendar ought to play this song in January more than they play it in December.
Some of our favorite Christmas songs aren’t even about Christmas. They don’t mention the holiday in their lyrics. “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Home for the Holidays” may be classic Christmas tunes, but they’re just as fitting for New Year’s Eve.
Music should add to the joy of Christmas, setting an atmosphere as we decorate the tree alongside Andy Williams, make hot cocoa on the stovetop with Mariah Carey, or build a snowman with Michael Bublé.
But music shouldn’t become a scale for how much we love holidays. Instead, it should draw us together. Don’t blame music for making us speed through the season.
Rather than focus on the music your friends listen to this holiday season, focus on the holiday itself. If songs such as “Joy to the World” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” remind you of joy and gratitude for family and friends, listen to those songs all throughout the year.
And if you catch me listening to “Mistletoe” in my car this week, let me sing with Justin Bieber in peace. I’m going to listen to Christmas music whenever I want, and you should too.