» About Christmas in July
QUESTION: Is Christmas in July still celebrated at Put-in-Bay Ohio?
ANSWER: NO! This used to be a nice little celebration for island residents and visitors that happened for many years. However, this tradition has ran its course and has now come to an end. Thanks to all who used to attend back in the old days!!!
How did this festival originate?
The precise beginnings of the Christmas in July tradition is not very clear, although it is commonly believed that it actually started in Europe, as a way to celebrate Christmas in summer. During the summer months in the Lake Erie Islands, the weather becomes increasingly warm and many people crave the coolness of winter. Amid the scorching summer months at Put-in-Bay, people miss the gift giving, and holiday spirit of the Christmastime. Though it is not known when it started exactly, it is probably from the 80's that the festival began to be celebrated. The earliest Christmas celebrations in July saw people at Put-in-Bay throwing parties that imitate the actual Christmas festivities in December. The celebrations also included other Christmas traditions like Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods, and gifts. It was held that celebrating in the warm season would ensure a strong, happy winter Christmas season.
This untimely Christmas festival is also often ascribed to a group of Irish tourists who went for a vacation in Sydney's Blue Mountains in the summer months of July in 1980. Away from the summer temperatures in their country, they were overjoyed at the sight of snow there. It is believed that they convinced the proprietor of a local hotel in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales to hold a party called "Yulefest". The idea was an instant hit and caught on the imagination of everyone present there. The proprietor saw a golden opportunity in this and henceforth held a Christmas Party each year in July. The local businessmen too jumped in to cash in on this unique festival and it continues to this day. Today, the tradition is so well entrenched in Australia that most restaurants, clubs and dining halls, have an official advertised annual catered menu for Christmas in July, and are often booked in advance. Most hotels, restaurants, bars, apparel stores, gift shops offer special discounts for the occasion. During this time, you can find the local gift shops brimming with figurines of Santa and Snowmen. Resorts have special events connected with their Christmas in July celebrations. The whole occasion has come to be utilized as a marketing gimmick as much elsewhere in Australia as in its snowfields where the month of July coincides with the high season in the Australian skiing resorts.
How did this festival get its name?
The party market opportunity is, undoubtedly, the most plausible reason behind "Christmas in July" celebrations. It is commonly said that the occasion was dreamed up by island merchants who wanted to benefit from a holiday at the end of July, which is otherwise a dull season for business and has few marketing opportunities. That makes a lot of sense, specially when we see how so many "holidays" are emerging these days ranging from Boss' Day to Grandparent's Day. Many people embrace these special days as they emerge which surely spells a fortune for retail merchants as well as beer and wine companies.
In recent years, Christmas in July seems to have became mainly a time for retail sales. In the United States, like all other festivals, this event too had become highly commercialized. It was more often used as a marketing tool than as an actual holiday celebrated by ordinary people. Most people really didn't care that this is not a natural holiday and enjoyed the party atmosphere. An unofficial holiday, the event was especially popular among the young people. Restaurants offered special discounts on this time. Many nightclubs hosted on this time Christmas parties open to the public. Drinks were guzzled and food items were eaten up like crazy. Local bars and hotels were packed with tourists who flock to the islands. Many, however, chose to spend the time with their friends partying at Put-in-Bay pools.
Many families used to love the concept of Christmas in July at Put-in-Bay, especially if their family members were scattered across the states, because it was easier for them to have a get-together in July, which is a summer month and when the weather is favorable for a vacation, rather than in the freezing winter months when long distance journeys are really hard.
Despite its rampant commercialization, Christmas in July at Put-in-Bay remained primarily an occasion to remember the long snow blanketed Christmas nights. It was a fun way to satisfy the craving for cooler weather and holiday cheer that many people experience during the hottest month of the year. And it was a great excuse to come to the Bay for an awesome party! Sadly, those days are gone.