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Dusting Off: Starting Christmas Season the Day After Thanksgiving

Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day Parade (then called “Macy’s Christmas Parade”), 1924

Target aired its first holiday ad on Monday and we’re not okay with that. Just so we’re clear: Monday was October 15, 71 days before Christmas.

It’s barely gourd season.

It’s also a good five weeks before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which has traditionally marked the beginning of holiday season. Target has suggested that its customers would welcome their extended layaway options this year and view holiday ads several weeks before Halloween as a welcome distraction from negative political commercials.

A bit of straight talk: if you need to purchase your Christmas presents on three-month layaway, you’re either shopping for too many people or shopping in the wrong store. Also, exchanging political ads for holiday ads in mid-October is like swapping out strep throat for a stomach bug.

Which is why we’d like to dust off the old calendar...

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1946

The day after Thanksgiving has unofficially marked the start of holiday season since the 1920s, when Macy’s, following its Canadian counterpart’s lead, held its first parade—with Santa’s grand entrance serving as the finale. In the decades that followed, it was considered an unwritten rule that no store would begin Christmas advertising before the parade was over.

In 1939, to quell retail stores’ demand for an extended holiday shopping season, President Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving one week earlier—yet another strong play from FDR—and one that successfully contained Christmas season to the period between Turkey and New Year’s Day, respectively.

We’re not trying to scrooge anything or anyone here. To the contrary, in fact: we’re all about the holiday season. But it’s safe to say the holiday season loses a bit of its luster when stretched to envelope a quarter of the year.

Give Santa and his team a break, Target.

You saw what happened to Jeter...