Christmas comes but once a year. Or does it?! Discover what Christmas in July is all about and why you should celebrate too!
Whether it’s a chance for a wintry Christmas celebration Down Under, or a Southern States girls’ summer camp tradition, Christmas in July has been offering mid-year festive cheer for coming up on a century now.
So what’s all the fuss about, and should you get in on the (un)seasonal action!
What is Christmas In July?
Simply put, it’s a mid-year Christmas celebration! (Because sometimes once just isn’t enough 😊)
We didn’t make it up … Christmas in July is a real thing! And you’re never going to believe where it first popped up!!
Whilst it’s not an officially recognised holiday (alas no day off work this time), Christmas in July has been gaining in popularity over the years.
So have a lot of fun with it – it’s a great way to try out different festive ways of decorating, ones that you may never risk trying for the main Christmas season.
After all, who doesn’t need a little (un)seasonal silliness in their lives?
How Did Christmas in July Start?
The origin of Christmas in July is a bit of a slow burner. In fact the concept seems to have been developed in several places independently, with a slightly different emphasis depending on whether you are a retailer/publisher or simply a Christmas fan, and which hemisphere of the world you live.
First Use Of The Phrase Christmas In July
If you guessed that the first ever reference to Christmas in July appeared in a 19th century French opera, you deserve your own aria!
But believe it or not, that’s the truth!
1892 French Opera, Werther, shares a story of a group of children rehearsing Christmas songs in July, with the phrase “Christmas in July” used by one of the characters in the English translation.
And early preparations for Christmas is one of the reasons the concept still exists today.
The First Christmas In July
The first Christmas in July celebration on record was held at Keystone Summer Camp in Brevard, North Carolina in the United States in 1933.
Camp co-founder Miss Fannie Holt is credited as the creative force behind the concept, although her motivations remain somewhat of a mystery! Held across two days – July 24th and 25th of course – there was carolling by the Christmas tree, cotton ball snow, and even a visit from Santa Claus.
The tradition continued at the camp for decades following that first party. Over the years celebrations became more elaborate, with reindeer and Mrs Claus joining the festivities, and laundry bags hung out as pseudo-stockings which magically filled with sweets overnight.
A major part of the Christmas in July extravaganza seems to have been the camp-wide gift exchange. Everyone was included – counsellors, staff and campers – and gifts ranged from pencil holders fashioned from tennis-ball cannisters to bejewelled toilet plungers!
In more recent years the camp has opted for a more general celebratory holiday party. Though carolling is apparently still very much on the agenda!
For more about Keystone Camp’s Christmas in July, click here.
Christmas in July During WW2
It seems that the concept of Christmas in July became something of a necessity during World War 2. The US Post Office joined forces with US Army & Navy officials in 1944 & 1945 to host Christmas in July luncheons in New York. Together with American advertising and greeting cards organisations, they promoted an early mailing campaign so that deliveries may reach service personnel overseas in time for Christmas.
This early commercialisation of the Christmas in July concept continues today, as retailers take advantage of a lull in the holidays calendar after 4th of July to start promotion for Christmas.
Christmas in August, Yellowstone National Park
So the story goes … a group of visitors became stranded at Old Faithful Inn during a freak blizzard and, rather than let circumstances get them down, they decided to embrace the weather with a Christmas celebration. Facts to confirm the legendary event are sparse and there is much debate about when such a storm might possibly have been seen in August in Yellowstone.
Regardless, it paved the way for an annual celebration at the famous National Park.
Park employees (known as Savages) celebrated Christmas in July from the 1930s onwards with homemade ornaments, visits from Santa, and a holiday feast. Over the next two decades this evolved into Savage Christmas, an event for employees and guests alike held on August 25th.
Rebranded as Christmas in August, its date coincides with the National Park Service’s birthday and is still celebrated today.
In fact, during a family visit in August 2016, my family and I were very amused to stumble across a decorated Christmas tree standing proudly in the Old Faithful Visitors Centre foyer! Christmas really does find me everywhere 🙂
Read more about the history of Christmas in August here.
Blue Mountains Yulefest in Australia
Whilst North Carolina’s girls’ camp got there first, the idea of celebrating Christmas out of season is not unique to the United States!
A group of Irish visitors to the Blue Mountains National Park in New South Wales, Australia accidentally started another annual Christmas in July tradition in 1980.
Gazing out of the window at The California hotel (now Mountain Heritage Hotel) in Katoomba at the snow filled skies and frosted window panes whilst the fire danced in front of them, one of the group observed that celebrating Christmas in the heat of summer just wouldn’t be the same.
Upon hearing this, and with pre-immigration family stories of northern hemisphere white Christmases part of his own upbringing, the hotel owner decided to put on a festive feast for his guests. And so the tradition of Yulefest was born.
Nowadays many of Blue Mountains hotels offer yearly Yulefest celebrations complete with carol singers, Christmas trees, and steaming mugs of hot chocolate from the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company!
For more information about Yulefest in the mountains, click here.
Christmas in July In The Publishing World
For those in retail and publishing, Christmas in July has a somewhat different meaning and came to be as a logistical necessity.
With the long lead times required to print monthly magazines, the gap between content gathering and publication can be substantial. Preparation of winter issues takes place predominantly during the summer months with products needed for photo shoots and editorial during this time. Many businesses therefore hold Christmas product launches in July, ready for the journalists to use.
Whilst timeframes vary nowadays with increased online & short timeframe content, there are still plenty of production teams sweating away in the heat of summer as they fluff Christmas trees and decorate tables for photo shoots! It’s not just Jo and me thinking Christmas all year long haha.
When is Christmas in July?
No prizes for getting this one right!
Traditionally Christmas in July is celebrated on 25th July. Although the Hallmark Channel run a whole month of back-to-back Christmas in July movies so take your pick on the party date!
Why is it Christmas in July instead of June?
If we’re going to celebrate a mid-year Christmas, why not June 25th?
That’s a jolly good question! The answer is primarily to do with Christmas in July’s origin rather than some strange aversion to June. That being said, Christmas in June is garnering some interest these days too.
Aldi coined the phrase Junemas in June 2021, giving customers an opportunity to catch up on the missed Christmas of 2020 as they brought mince pies and pigs in blankets back to stores.
But the name seems to have stuck and there are now a splattering of Junemas specials around to mark the occasion.
The 25th June is also known as Leon Day. Why? Because it’s halfway to Christmas and LEON backwards spells NOEL.
Tenuous link? Yes, we agree 😊 And how National Leon Day started is anyone’s guess but, hey, we don’t need to be asked twice to extend the festivities…!
Why Celebrate Christmas in July?
Still not quite convinced about the Christmas in July concept?
Well it’s been proven that putting up Christmas decorations makes us happier (with the nostalgia of our childhood memories raising our spirits). And many believe that thinking about the cold when it’s hot, or vice versa, can help balance our internal temperature. So we could argue there’s a scientific basis for Christmas in July celebrations..!
But if that still hasn’t done the trick, here’s a whole host of reasons why you might like to include a little unseasonal festivity in your year!
- Experience a hot / cold Christmas, depending on which hemisphere is home.
- Opportunity to try out new festive traditions and décor without compromising your annual Christmas rhythm.
- Great theme for a summer camp / campground party.
- School holiday activity – keep the kids busy with the preparations and mark the beginning / end of the school break (depending on your location).
- Unusual birthday party idea (or even party idea for someone whose birthday is Christmas Day).
- Fire pit celebrations are a fun twist on fire place festivities.
- Why not?!
Best Place To Celebrate Christmas in July
Plenty of Christmas in July stories seem to originate from stranded travellers in inclement or unseasonal weather. What else are you to do in those circumstances but have a Christmas party!! And so the traditions have stuck.
Some of the most popular Christmas in July celebrations around the world include:
Christmas in July United States
Christmas in July York, Maine
Christmas in July is celebrated in York, Maine with the annual summer lighting of Nubble Lighthouse (a tradition of some 30+ years) as well as several other fun summer events in the area. For more information, click here.
Christmas in July Ormond Beach, Florida
Local businesses come together to organise the annual Christmas in July festivities in Ormond Beach Florida. With shopping and dining offers aplenty, family friendly activities and a visit from Santa himself, there’s more than enough festive spirit for any Christmas enthusiast! For more information, head to Ormond Beach Main Street.
Put-in-Bay, Ohio Christmas In July
Drawing huge crowds from nearby Detroit, Put-in-Bay had become a mecca for summer crowds looking for an excuse to party. But, 2019 saw the end of the official Put-in-Bay Christmas in July celebrations after things had become too unruly. That being said, the island town still sees an influx of visitors at the end of July for unofficial summer Christmas revelling.
Christmas in July Festival, West Jefferson, North Carolina
Billed as one of the best old fashioned summer festivals in the south, the annual Christmas in July festival has been a staple of the Ashe County calendar since 1987. It began as a celebration of the Christmas tree industry for which the county is well known and has evolved into a popular family friendly yearly celebration. More information here.
Christmas in August, Yellowstone National Park
As mentioned above, there is a long tradition of celebrating a summer Christmas in Yellowstone National Park. Whilst it’s not the big event it used to be, you can still head to the Old Faithful visitor centre to see the trimming of the tree for Christmas in August.
Christmas in July in Australia
Yulefest in the Blue Mountains, Australia
Take your pick from a veritable festive feast of options in New South Wales’ Blue Mountain National Park!
Warm ‘Mountains’ hospitality balances the chilly weather to make for a perfect second round of Christmas celebrations. There’s banquets on offer at many of the area’s hotels with Christmas singalongs, trimmed trees, and merriment aplenty. Or head into the Jenolan Caves to meet Santa in spectacular albeit rather unusual surroundings!
Find out more about what’s on for Yulefest in the Blue Mountains here.
Christmas in July Festival, Canberra & Sydney
Live out your winter market dreams at the Christmas in July Festivals held annually in Canberra & Sydney.
With wooden huts, mulled wine bars, melted cheese stations (and igloos!), live music, Christmas lights, what more could you wish for?! Falling snow? Oh yes, they have that too! What’s more, entry to the festival is free. It really is a bit of North Pole magic Down Under.
For latest news and dates, click here.
Ballarat Winter Festival
Less than 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, the town of Ballarat really know how to party! Ballarat Winter Festival continues for over three weeks with Christmas in July treats including live carols, mulled wine & cider, Christmas inspired food specials, ice-skating and the spectacular Winter Wonderlights.
For latest news and dates, click here.
Christmas in July Around The World
Greytown Festival of Christmas, New Zealand
Starting post-lockdown, this new Christmas in July tradition has already built a solid fan base. An hour outside the capital city Wellington, the rural North Island town of Greytown transforms itself into a winter wonderland for the whole month of July. There’s European Style Night Markets, workshops and family activities, and some impressive festive light displays to brighten the winter night sky.
For latest news, click here.
No Christmas in July event nearby? Don’t let that stop you! We’ve got 11 fabulous Christmas in July party ideas that are bound to get everyone in the festive spirit!
Christmas in July Movies
The Hallmark Channel has made Christmas movies synonymous with the Christmas in July holiday.
And whilst it is certainly more than acceptable to dip into a few of the festive classics to mark the occasion, there are also movies made specifically on the Christmas in July theme.
Christmas in July
The 1940 comedy film Christmas in July, starring Dick Powell & Ellen Drew, sees an ambitious clerk being fooled by co-workers into thinking he’d won $25,000 in a slogan contest. A fun lesson in not spending money before you’ve received it, the movie is the first known film on theunofficial holiday theme.
Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July
This 1979 TV movie brought together two festive cartoon favourites – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman – for an unseasonal adventure.
Hallmark Channel Christmas in July
The award for most Christmas TV movies resides firmly with the Hallmark Channel and they don’t fail us for Christmas in July either. There’s a whole month of festive movie watching on offer with new releases coinciding with the occasion! And with movies like Campfire Christmas on the schedule, there’s sure to be one to suit your Christmas in July celebrations.
Don’t forget that Hallmark Christmas movies pair perfectly with our FREE Christmas Movie Bingo game. It’s time to up your festive movie watching!
Movies 24 Christmas In July
Those of us in the UK who don’t have access to Hallmark Channel need not miss out. Movies 24 regularly show Christmas movies during the month of July as well. Check your TV schedule for details.
Christmas in July Songs
Believe it or not there’s even a Christmas in July song! It’s by Sufjan Stevens and you can listen to it below.
FREE Christmas In July Playlist
If you’re in the market for a little tropical Christmas, we’ve created a FREE Christmas in July playlist for you to enjoy.
With an eclectic mix of island-style Christmas classics, Christmas tunes for the summer and the obligatory bit of Mariah, this is Christmas like you’ve never heard it before! Mele Kalikimaka!
Listen to the Christmas in July playlist for free on Spotify here.
What To Do For Christmas in July?
You’re sold on marking the occasion but need inspiration for how? Here’s some Christmas in July ideas for what to do.
- Host a party. Check out our fun Christmas in July party theme ideas for inspiration.
- Host a second Christmas with those you missed. Get together with family and friends you couldn’t see over last Christmas, or know you won’t this year.
- Make a trip somewhere it’s Christmas all year long. Whether it’s a trip towards the Arctic, to a year-round Christmas shop for some early browsing or even to a Christmas Cottage!
- Movie Marathon. Take advantage of the increased number of Christmas movies on the TV for Christmas in July.
- Test your knowledge with a quiz. Ever done a Christmas in July quiz? We just happen to have a free one ready for you to use! Host a quiz event in your workplace or with friends. Or simply see how much you really know.
- Send cards & gifts. Christmas in July is a great excuse to remind friends they are in our thoughts and send a little mid-year cheer.
- Elfie returns. A great one for the kids! Why not bring your elf on the shelf back for some school break antics?
- Spread a little Christmas cheer. Not that we should need one but Christmas in July would make a wonderful focal point for a few acts of kindness in the local community.
- Have a Christmas in July wedding! The ultimate Christmas in July party – perfect for those Christmas super fans looking for an excuse for a double festive celebration, this year and forever more!!
- Kickstart the prep. Rather than celebrating Christmas in July itself, why not use this as your calendar reminder to gently start preparing for December. Perhaps making a few cards, gifts or decorations whilst the pressure is off and it’s really just a little mindful relaxation and time for you.
- Christmas in July Mahjong. If you can’t find anyone else with the same enthusiasm for a celebration, enjoy a little game of the free online Christmas In July Mahjong dimensions here and drift off into your own North Pole wonderland as you match the pairs.
More Décor Inspiration
These gorgeous DIY mushroom decorations are seriously easy to make and will look cute hanging on your tree this Christmas.
Enjoy free printable pdf copies of the classic Night Before Christmas poem to share with loved ones & decorate your home this holiday season.
Looking to update your festive décor? Here’s 23 of the hottest Christmas trends 2023 you won’t want to miss!