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Step away from the tinsel, Christmas freaks. It's not even December yet.

Holly and her son, Billy.

By HOLLY WAINRIGHT

Step away from the tinsel. It is NOT Christmas yet.

I know you’re tempted, I know you want to get the party started, but just take a breath.

Hold back. Let it go.

Christmas hasn’t started yet. It’s November. NOVEMBER.

But I can’t blame you for being confused.

In news that makes me want to weep, according to scientists, Christmas now starts on August 19.

The smart people at the Royal Statistical Society have worked out that August 19 is when Chritsmassy words start popping up in Google searches, a date that’s inched earlier and earlier as the Google-able years increase. Back in those innocent days of 2008, Christmas didn’t start until October.

Everyone has a different idea of when Christmas really begins.

According to my local shopping centre, it starts on November 1.That’s when they’ve start dangling shiny wreathes around the escalators, hoping to induce a little retail panic.

According to traditional Catholics, it starts at noon on Christmas Eve, December 24.

According to the Christian tradition of Christmastide it starts on Christmas Day, December 25. And look, they should really know.

Me, I have strict rules about when it’s acceptable to start dangling baubles.

And it’s September.

When my colleague told me that her brother’s family already had their decorations up on November 13, I judged.

And when I went round to my friends’s place in February and they still had the tree up – “the kids just love it so much” – I judged.

A bit of reaching out to Reddit on the topic seems to get all the same responses – “I love Christmas, so I put my decorations up in the first week of November.” “We like to put our decorations up in November so we have longer to look at them.” I judged those people, too.

I judged because, in my opinion, these people have Got Christmas Wrong.

I don’t approve of the way Christmas is creeping – the way it get earlier and earlier each year.

I’m not the Grinch. Honest.

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And it’s not because I’m the grinch – honest. It’s exactly the opposite. I love Christmas. I love it so much I want it to be special.

The glow of fairy lights, the smell of pine (or plastic), the paper and bows, the carols, the chocolate and champagne… that stuff is precious. It can’t be bandied about for months either side. You can’t make it Christmas every day. It doesn’t work.

You’ve got to ration the good stuff in life, or it just becomes wallpaper. You’ve got to be able to accept that special things happen at special times, and sometimes you have to wait for them, and sometimes you have to give them back. So it is with Christmas.

The sight of a Christmas tree aglow should move you – give you a tingly mix of melancholic longing and anticipation – and there’s just no space for that in October. A tree with fairy lights on it isn’t a Christmas tree before, let’s say, December 10 – it’s just a tree with fairy lights on it.

For me. preserving Christmas traditions has nothing to do with religion. But it has everything to do with sentimentality. Because for those of us who celebrate it, however loosely, Christmas is about our childhood. Bringing it back, or pushing it away.

Holly’s family. Poor things, they don’t get a Christmas tree til December 20. 

And in my house, growing up, we put the Christmas decorations up on December 20. Five days before Christmas. And you took them down on January 6. And so those are my inbuilt Christmas rules. I can’t help it. Despite the fact that there’s nothing else I insist on doing exactly like I did was I was 12 – my still back-combed-damaged fringe thanks me for that – my Christmas rules are inbuilt.

Now I have children of my own, and a job, and we don’t always put the tree up on December 20. Because sticking to hard and fast rules does not work with little people. And sometimes, I need to bribe them to get them to behave, so I throw around Santa with abandon waaaay before my rules kick in.

But seriously, stop trying to ruin Christmas by spreading it thinly. Despite the whole idea of the Festive Season, Christmas does not last three months – it’s a two-week thing.

Less. Is. More.

When do you start celebrating Christmas?

These people know how to get stuck into the Christmas cheer, hopefully all these images were taken in December,

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