Mariah Carey exposes Sweden’s creepy Christmas secret

(Mood: Curious)

It’s the 9th of December, and two days ago, I typed ”all I want for Christmas is you” into Google for the first time this year. It seems reasonable, given that the star is up, the Christmas tree is up, and I had my first Glögg of the year about a week ago. I’m ready for Christmas.

But I remember a time, not so long ago when I wasn’t ready for Christmas. It was just after Halloween and the thought of typing any Christmas songs into Google seemed entirely inappropriate. Yet, the day after Halloween, the Christmas decorations started creeping into shops and Glögg started creeping into Systembolaget.

It’s called Christmas Creep and it’s the phenomenon that each year, the trappings of Christmas appear earlier and earlier in the shops, in our homes, and on our computers. Yes, I said computers. Normally, Christmas Creep is quite difficult to measure because you have to record an event such as Glögg hitting the shelves of your local Systembolaget, for many years before you can see a trend. Luckily, our all-knowing friend Google can lend a hand. Some economists suggested using the search term “all I want for Christmas is you” in Google as a way to measure Christmas Creep. While this has been done around the world, I couldn’t find any data for Sweden, so I did it myself.

Let’s look at a 10-year window. If we take the last full year we can analyse as 2017, then we need to go all the way back to 2007. Here’s is what the Google trend looks like. The x-axis is the date and the y-axis is the normalised search volume.

xmas 2007 graph

It doesn’t look too bad, right? Apart from some worrying activity in mid-September, things seem normal. The volume starts increasing in mid-November and peaks around Christmas. Using Google Trends, we can also look at who is responsible for this, I’m looking at you Södermanland.

xmas 2007 places

Now let’s have look at 2017. Oh dear.

xmas 2017 graph

Search volume is kicking off way earlier at the beginning of November. Let’s think for a second what this means. This isn’t about shops or Glögg in Systembolaget. The day after Haloween, people, in their homes and on their phones, start searching for Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit, and they don’t stop until the new year. That’s two months of “All I want for Christmas is you”. I would have said this is madness but I can’t because when you look at the graph, you can see that some people are searching for the song at the beginning of August.

The. Beginning. Of. August.

Right, somebody has to be held accountable for this. Let’s take a look.

xmas 2017 places

I’m calling this, you’ve gone too far. It looks like we’re in the middle of an epidemic of Christmas Creep led by our friends in Dalarna. Why it’s them is a mystery. While they are definitely in the lead, it’s worth noting that Östergötland and Jonkoping are not far behind making it seem like the creep is spread geographically.

But is Christmas Creep really all that bad? I suppose it doesn’t have to be. It’s thought that Christmas Creep is a marketing phenomenon which could certainly lead to some problems such as over-spending and over-consumption. It could also drive your friends a little crazy if you start blasting Christmas music out of your speakers in August. But Christmas is about more than just consumption and if you get a kick out of listening to Christmas songs, and putting up decorations, what’s the harm of doing it a little earlier, just as long and you don’t rub people faces in it.

It might be worth taking a look at the trend for this year.

xmas 2018 graph

It seems that we have a few more nutcases searching for the song in August, but at least the main increase isn’t starting until November which is the same as last year. Maybe Halloween is a boundary that Christmas cannot cross. If that’s the case, I think I can live with it, especially if we get to eat Lussekatter earlier.

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