When’s the right time to start playing holiday music?

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 during Christmas holiday. Photo from GENIUS.com

The month of November has arrived; and for some people that means it is time to get in the Christmas spirit.  While certain individuals prefer to ease into the holiday — and get through Thanksgiving first — others waste no time in dusting off their favorite Christmas records.

Famous musicians like Mariah Carey mark Nov. 1 as the beginning of Christmas. Carols are looked upon as an encouragement to be jolly and spread holiday cheer. 

Coming from the “Queen of Christmas,” this behavior is to be expected.  However, the question must be asked: Is November too early to play Christmas music?

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist in Great Britain, claims that celebrating the holidays too early can affect mental health by “triggering feelings of stress.”

In a 2017 Sky News report, Blair explained how “music goes right to our emotion immediately and it bypasses rationality. Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly and too early.”

Last month, Christmas carols began to hit malls and private companies like Sephora to market seasonal sales.

Sephora is a makeup company that creates its own playlist to play throughout the store.  Employee Jay King shared the inspiration behind blending in holiday music with their regular playlist so early in November.

“We have our new holiday collection on sale,” said King.  “We have a few Christmas songs in our playlist created by the company to help generate sales.”

Not all stores begin the holidays early.  Next door neighbor JCPenny in the Governor’s Square mall did not have any Christmas music set up in its playlist for the store.  Holiday sales on the other hand were still being advertised.

Psychologist Blair uses the idea of spending money as another trigger of stress related to holiday music.

“Some people will react to that by making impulse purchases, which the retailer likes,” said Blair.  “Others might just walk out of the shop. It’s a risk.”

Radio stations can be cautious when it comes to playing holiday songs too early in the season.

Calvin Sykes, former program director for WANM FM 90.5 on FAMU’s campus, explains why even on the radio, hosts are not encouraged to play Christmas music too early.

“When it comes to a radio station, you’re thinking about a bigger population, not just one or five listeners,” said Sykes.  “You have to think about your entire market.”

Sykes suggests that the best time to approach Christmas music is one or two days before Thanksgiving.  He says the music helps him get into the holiday spirit and look forward to family time.