Wednesday, July 15, 2020


 Ever wonder where the concept of having Christmas in July came from? I did, so I did a bit of on-line research.

The first mention of a Christmas in July is apparently in the 1894 French opera, Werther, based on a book by Goethe. In the story, a group of children rehearse a Christmas song in July; apparently, in the book, Christmas is mentioned but there’s nothing about July.  Whether this had any influence on the general development of ‘Christmas in July’ is, to me, rather doubtful.

A more likely influence is the groups of vaudevillians who gathered at so-called actors’ colonies once the theatres closed for the summer due to the heat. In the time before air-conditioning, actors would take a summer break at  vacation camps and, because they had been working over December, they enjoyed celebrating Christmas in July.  This first occurred around 1915, and the celebration was complete with tree, Santa, and presents.

As vaudeville slowly disappeared from the theatrical scene around 1930, a girl’s camp in North Carolina, Camp Keystone, took up the idea around 1933, again complete with presents and so forth. By 1935, the idea was fairly widespread throughout summer camps.  But it was a Hollywood movie in 1940 actually titled Christmas in July that brought the idea to the nation’s attention. By 1942, a Washington, DC, church took on the idea with services in the summer broadcast over the radio.

Then, in 1944, the U.S. Postal Service along with branches of the Armed Forces threw a luncheon in NYC in July to bring attention to the need for early mailing of Christmas cards to service men and women overseas. By 1950, Christmas in July was a popular marketing tool and used in advertising. The main idea was to clear the shelves to begin getting ready for the real Christmas. It has also become a good chance for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere to have a little Christmas celebration during their winter, while those of us in the Northern Hemisphere sit back and enjoy repeats of Christmas specials on TV and open those Christmas-themed books we didn’t have a chance to get to read last Christmas.

Such as… 

A Christmas Carole

Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells, not sleigh bells that start ringing.
            Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis- delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list.
            If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.


Just .99 at




Carrie jogged in place so she could make the run back to her ranch, and knocked with a somewhat heavy hand on the front door. Footsteps sounded from inside and Carrie pulled the letters out from her pack, scanned them briefly before the door opened and revealed a stout woman.

This person smiled a welcome as she stood giving Carrie the once over, and then took a step back.

Carrie continued her jogging. “Uh. Mrs. Scrooge…I mean, Schrugge?”

The woman’s face abruptly changed. “You call anyone around here Scrooge and you’ll be the one wishing for Christmas past. What can I do for you?”

“Sorry. Sorry, only these letters were mistakenly left over at the Lazy M so I—”

“Hetty? Do you need me?” A deep, rich voice came from further inside the house, followed by the soft tread of socked feet approaching.

Carrie was trying to continue to jog in place but nearly tripped over her own feet when the owner of the voice appeared. She found herself peering up at about six foot three of brown-haired, blue-eyed, chiseled cowboy. Somewhat embarrassed, she noted his gaze run over her from her baseball cap to her sneakers and back up again, a suppressed smile on his face before he spoke. She swiped a line of sweat winding its way down from under her cap.

“Uh.” He seemed at a loss for words. “Can I help?”

Hetty’s knuckled fist sat on her expansive waist and she shook her head. “She’s brought letters from the Lazy M.”

He looked confused. “An invitation?”

Was there the merest glimmer of hope in his voice? “No, um . . . letters meant for you were mistakenly put in my box.” Carrie handed over the pile. “I mean, I’m sure if I were inviting . . .or having a party—oh hell, I mean, I’m sure—”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Get hold of yourself, will you, and stop jiggling about like that for a second.”  Hetty shook her head in dismay, then looked up to the rancher. “I’ll leave Miss Smelly Neon Bright with you to sort out, I’ve got work to do.” And with that, she waddled away.

Carrie took in a deep breath and started again. “Sorry. The letters were left in our mailbox so I brought them over. That’s all.”

“Got it the first time. Or maybe it was the second.”  His gaze examined her once more and his brow wrinkled. “You said ‘our box’. Are you…?”

“Sorry, I should have introduced myself. Carrie Matheson.” She extended her damp hand and the cowboy grasped it.


Carrie noticed he didn’t give his last name, but then again, he didn’t have to since she had his letters.

“I was sorry to hear about Tom’s passing. You must’ve been very close.”

“Well. No, actually, he was my father’s older brother and we rarely saw him.”


“But he left me the ranch I guess as his only relative, so I’m here now.”

“I can see that.”

Carrie stood in stupefied embarrassment for a moment before she tried to jog once more. “Well. I better be off. I’m running.”

“Yeah. I can see that, too. I was sort of hoping that wasn’t your normal attire.”

Carrie caught her breath and had to stop herself from smacking him. The nerve! He probably never wore anything other than jeans and a checked shirt. Even if those jeans did fit remarkably well, and the blue checked shirt brought out his eyes. She glared at him one long instant before stepping off the porch to leave. Then she twisted back to him.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Scrooge.”



Julie Lence said...

Hi Andrea. Great post!! I had no idea where 'Christmas in July' came from, though I did think it was something more modern. Very interesting to learn it originated back in the 1890's with the acting groups. I never knew they took time off in the summer, either. Thank you for the research and helping me to learn something new. Hugs!

Andrea Downing said...

This was all new to me, too, Julie, so I had fun learning. I rather think the main impetus was as a promotional effort--look at how we're using it today! And hugs right back for a happy birthday. :-)

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

How enlightening! Like Julie, I thought Xmas in July was a modern promotional tool. I never really thought of it before. Kudos to you for looking into this. I loved your Christmas story! As always you manage to put the reader right in the setting and the concept of the story and characters were wonderful.

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Patti for those kind words. I certainly enjoyed myself writing this light-hearted novella--as well as being with 6 other great authors in the anthology as was.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

This is so interesting. I had no idea it dated back so far. Great post! And I loved your Christmas story as well!!

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks so much Kristy. I guess a lot of us were surprised at the source of this concept.