Sunday October 5, 2008

It's Like Christmas in X

A couple of days ago I said, "It's like Christmas in September," then later in the same day a friend who wasn't around when I said it said the same thing.  Today, I read "It's like Christmas in October" somewhere (that's a blog citation, BTW).  Synchronicity gets me curious, and curiosity leads to blog posting, so I fired up (even though this isn't really a snowclone) to find out how frequently each month occurs as a filler in it's like Christmas in X.

Here are the results, according to Google:

Month gHits
july 2270
august 1660
september 779
june 580
march 543
december 526
may 421
october 366
april 365
february 173
november 119
january 113

This distribution forms a nice, nearly smooth curve over the course of the calendar year:

With the exception of March and December, the further away a month is from the actual date of Christmas, the more likely it is to occur as a filler for it's like Christmas in X, presumably because the further away a month is, the funnier it is to contemplate Christmas occurring in that month.  The peak is skewed a bit later than May June, the true calendrical opposite of December, perhaps because hotter months seem less Christmassy then colder months.  It's easy to see why December is an exception to this rule—because corner cases are even funnier than incongruity—but why is March?  I've poked around a bit in the search results for the phrase "it's like Christmas in March", and I don't see any obvious pattern.  It doesn't appear to be the name of a movie or anything.  Anybody have a guess?

[Now playing:  "Breathless" by X]

[Update:  At Squid's suggestion, here are the results for just like Christmas in X (i.e. no it's):

july 16700
august 4960
june 4710
september 3910
may 2860
march 2230
december 1490
april 1440
november 988
october 769
january 583
february 526

The distribution is nearly the same, with bumps at March and December:

I should mention, by the way, that I fixed a couple of instances in the original post where I said I'd searched on it's Christmas in X—in fact, as in the title of the post, the original pattern was it's like Christmas in X.  Oops!]

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A lot of the Christmas in March links have to do with either exchanging gifts or purchasing luxury or frivolous items. After the Christmas glut, people have less taste for exchanging gifts and less available cash while they're paying their Christmas debt down. But by late February or early March the early IRS filers start receiving their income tax refunds. Sudden cash influx + recent discretionary purchase drought = luxury sales spike.

Um...isn't the calendrical opposite of December in June?

Posted by: Rick S at Oct 5, 2008 4:17:13 AM

I have a lesson that I taught my EFL students for Christmas in July. There's an older Korean movie that was very popular when it came out title Christmas in August 8월의 크리스마스 (I have it on DVD)

Posted by: EFL Geek at Oct 5, 2008 4:28:36 AM

The peak is skewed a bit later than May, the true calendrical opposite of December

... I think you mean June, there. :)

Posted by: Marcos at Oct 5, 2008 5:25:40 AM

Um...isn't the calendrical opposite of December in June?

God dammit. I counted it on my fingers twice and still got it wrong. Math is hard.

Posted by: The Tensor at Oct 5, 2008 5:27:37 AM

Ah, that was your mistake. As any fule kno, you count the months on your knuckles. (It also helps you to remember which ones have 31 days.)

Posted by: erkki at Oct 5, 2008 7:55:59 AM

I've encountered actual 'Christmas in July' and 'Christmas in August' celebrations, which may be affecting your results; I wonder if you'd get a different curve if you used like Christmas in X rather than it's Christmas in X. Not really, I suspect; it might be flatter but it would suggest the same conclusions.

Posted by: Squid at Oct 5, 2008 10:12:03 AM

This may be of passing interest, given what topped the chart...

Posted by: Simon Blake at Oct 7, 2008 4:12:13 AM

Damn, didn't paste the link:

Posted by: Simon Blake at Oct 7, 2008 4:13:07 AM

I know that Australia (and possibly other countries in the Southern Hemisphere) has actual Christmas in July celebrations because its colder then and feels a lot more Christmassy than wearing shorts. We still have the main Christmas in December, so we get twice the fun! It's probably still mostly a commercially driven phenomenon, though, to get twice the revenue...

Posted by: Gilly at Nov 24, 2008 4:20:58 AM

More on snowclones:

At a summer camp I worked at, we also had a real Christmas in July...

Posted by: Mark Peters at Dec 7, 2008 8:45:35 PM

I am surprised that you didn't mention that 31 oct(al) == 25 dec(imal), making Christmas in October the obvious choice for math/computer nerds.

Posted by: Owlmirror at Jul 5, 2009 2:51:15 PM