It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Christmas in July, that is! While many people prefer warm summer days over cold winter nights, when it comes to Christmastime, it’s quite difficult to imagine sitting inside reading a book near a roaring fire when the mercury in the thermometer is reading 100-plus outside the window. And while this may be true for many people, perhaps it shouldn’t be given the number of people that mark Dec. 25 in shorts and sandals, instead of parkas and boots each year. By participating in Christmas in July celebrations, people in the southern hemisphere get to enjoy a more traditional “northern Christmas” weather-wise, while people in the northern hemisphere get to enjoy a warm and toasty “southern Christmas.” In either case, having the opportunity to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year at the halfway point of the year during Christmas in July is sure to make your season bright.
The exact origin of Christmas in July is a mystery. Some believe the “holiday” started in Europe as a way to celebrate Christmas in the summer, as the northern hemisphere becomes warmer and people start to crave the cool air of winter. Also, because a half year has passed since last Christmastime, many people begin to long for the holiday spirit and gift-giving that is synonymous with the Christmas season. Therefore, many towns and people started hosting Christmas-inspired parties that resemble the actual holiday. Others subscribe to the theory that Christmas in July was created when a group of Irish tourists vacationing in Sydney, Australia’s Blue Mountains during the summer of 1980 were so shocked and excited to see snow in the summer that they convinced a hotel in New South Wales to host a party called “Yulefest” to celebrate the sights of winter during that time of the year. It was a hit, and now many businesses and restaurants in Australia hold similar events, drawing many visitors both near and far.
It’s also believed that the term Christmas in July came from “Werther,” the 1892 opera story in which a group of children rehearse a Christmas song in July. The earliest known occasion in which the phrase Christmas in July was celebrated was in July 1933 at Keystone Camp, a girl's summer camp in North Carolina. The camp celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts and a visit from Santa Claus. And in 1940, even Hollywood caught on to the Christmas in July movement, when it released a film by the same name. Another past example of Christmas in July is from 1944, when the U.S. Post Office and U.S. Army and Navy officials, together with the American advertising and greeting card industries, threw a Christmas in July luncheon in New York in 1944 to promote an early Christmas mailing campaign for service men and women overseas during World War II.
Whatever the true history or origin of Christmas in July, each theory seems to share a common theme of celebrating the holiday spirit and the joy of spending time with family and friends that is customary at Christmastime. Today, there are many different types of Christmas in July celebrations that help people get in the Christmas spirit even during the hot summer days. From Christmas movies and specials on television throughout the month of July to sales in retail stores and townwide events for people of all ages, there’s a special present for everyone to enjoy. Here’s a look at some of the Christmas in July celebrations taking place in the U.S. this year:
Christmas in July (North Pole, NY): It should come as no surprise that North Pole, NY, a small hamlet in Wilmington, NY, celebrates Christmas in July. Taking place every weekend in July, this family-friendly event includes campfire sing-alongs with some of Santa’s helpers, a family-style dinner with Santa Claus, a character breakfast and demonstrations from Woody, one of Santa’s toy makers on how toys are made at Christmas.
Christmas in July (Perrysville, Ohio): This July 15, those who want to get into the Christmas spirit can do so by enjoying the many fun family-friendly activities planned at this year’s event, which is organized by Pleasant Hill Lake Park. From food, games, laser tag, kayaking, live music, Christmas-themed crafts and nature programs to fireworks at dusk accompanied by Christmas music, candy goodies handed out by Santa’s elves and a special appearance by the big man himself, who arrives on jet ski at the beach, this event is sure to cover your wish list. “The event has the excitement of Christmas combined with the summer beach atmosphere,” says Louis Andres, park specialist at Pleasant Hill Lake Park. “It’s a great summer event for the whole family and friends—where else can you find Santa Claus riding a jet ski?”
Christmas in July Half-Marathon or 5K Run (Indianapolis): On July 15, runners (presumably many dressed as elves and Santa himself despite the heat) will hit the streets of Indianapolis for a fun and festive run with the start and finish at the Tow Yard Brewing Company. And the finisher medals for these two races are sure to make your running season bright, given they have come equipped with blinking Christmas lights! Adding to the merriment, participants of drinking age will get a free beer at the end of the race.
Christmas in July at The Inn at Christmas Place (Pigeon Forge, TN): While Christmas is celebrated year-round at this hotel, from the end of June until the beginning of August, guests are invited to partake in the special Christmas in July activities that include Christmas crafts for kids, bow-tying classes, gingerbread making, Christmas movies by the pool and storytelling. Plus, a visit to The Incredible Christmas Place retail store located across from the hotel is a must to purchase Christmas items to bring home.
Christmas in July (Glendale, AZ): On Saturday, July 8, the 11th annual Christmas in July celebration will take place in Glendale. Visitors will enjoy a fun-filled day of holiday treats and exclusive deals; a visit with Santa Claus; free trolley rides, including a stop at a candy shop where visitors can make a chocolate Christmas ornament; an elaborate holiday light display and “snow” for kids to play in. The event also features a bottled water donation drive in which visitors are encouraged to bring a donation of bottled water to the event. “Historic Downtown Glendale is the perfect destination to enjoy family fun and a hometown summertime holiday experience where shop owners greet you by name and the Norman Rockwell-like scene evokes warm memories and Instagram-worthy moments,” says Lorraine Zomok, administrator at Visit Glendale.
Whether you are able to attend a celebration in your area or plan to watch one of your favorite Christmas movies this month, be sure to keep the holiday spirit alive in some way this July. It’ll help make your summer days merrier and brighter!
If you prefer Christmas in July with sun and surf, these beach tips will help you get the most from your next vacation date, and make sure you have the best holiday music to put you in the Christmas spirit.