November 25, 2008

What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 1)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:36 pm

As the Christmas shopping season went into full swing in 2005, I sensed that journalists in general have a strong preference for using the term “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping” when covering business and commerce, but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts have been proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December in each of the last three years (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here; 2006′s are here, here, and here; 2005′s are here, here, and here):


2005-2007 News stories have overwhelmingly preferred “holiday shopping” on the commerce side, but have used “Christmas” over twice as frequently in articles about layoffs.

I’ve decided to continue to track the same items this year to see if the trend continues or changes.

Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season (done tonight at roughly 9 PM ET), the early conclusion is “mostly, yes”:


The continued upward creep in using “holiday shopping season” for commerce continues. Meanwhile, “Christmas” is still used with over two times as much frequency in stories about layoffs, in a year in which, thanks to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, there will probably be many more layoffs than in the past. The percentage usage for Christmas layoffs has dropped, and it will be interesting to see if that lower percentage holds.

But for now, what I concluded during the past three years is again proving to be true in 2008:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: Upon further review – It’s more troubling, if you focus on the second graphic containing Round 1 results, that the percentage component of “Christmas shopping season” has dropped by one-third (from 15.2% to 10.1%) in just three years. If that rate of decline continues, in six years it will go to zero.

UPDATE 2: For those new to the topic or who deny that some folks out there are waging a “War on Christmas,” see the topline review of this 2005 book for these examples:

  • In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words “Merry Christmas” while at work.
  • In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall.
  • A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols.
  • Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project.

Yeah, it’s all in our imaginations (/sarc).

UPDATE 3: An example from this week, which also illustrates how quickly things have turned (bolds are mine) –

Christmas is just 30 days away, but Santa Claus won’t be stopping by Florida Gulf Coast University this holiday.

He’s not allowed on campus.

FGCU administration has banned all holiday decorations from common spaces on campus and canceled a popular greeting card design contest, which is being replaced by an ugly sweater competition. In Griffin Hall, the university’s giving tree for needy preschoolers has been transformed into a “giving garden.”

The moves boil down to political correctness.

….. In Bradshaw’s memo, he said the decision was not an “attempt to suppress expression of the holiday spirit.” Staffers will be permitted to display holiday decorations on their desks, but not on their office doors or in common spaces. Traditional workplace Christmas parties are not an issue at FGCU.

Good for reporter Dave Breitenstein for calling it PC when he sees it.

Now for evidence of how quickly the PC virus can cause institutional meltdown:

In 2001, then-President William Merwin lit the university’s official Christmas tree, a 22-foot Colorado blue spruce. Children from the college’s child care center and university choir performed traditional carols.


Previous Posts:
- Dec. 22, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 10, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 28, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Dec. 22, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 9, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
- Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
- Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
- Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
- Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year


1 Comment

  1. [...] want to finish reading the blog and get Tom’s take on this trend, you can check it out here or here. And let me know what you think about this trend. Does it bother you? Or does it make [...]

    Pingback by Christmas vs. Holiday Shopping « Abunga Blog — November 26, 2008 @ 10:05 am

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