In 2005, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” 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 during the past three years.
So did anything change in 2008?
Not that much, but slightly in the secular direction. Here are the overall results of various relevant Google News searches for the past four years (searches have been done three times each year — just before Thanksgiving, about weeks later, and shortly before Christmas Day; this years Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively; image courtesy of commenter “siouxcityranch” at Dr. BLT’s Blog n Roll Studio):
The key numbers are highlighted, and tell us the following:
- (green numbers) In the past three years (2005-2008), “holiday shopping season” has crowded out “Christmas shopping season” by a seven- or eight-to-one ratio. This year was the most extreme, at 8.4:1. My personal experience, which I doubt is unique, is that an obvious majority of people in everyday conversation refer to “Christmas shopping” over “holiday shopping” in a ratio that is about the direct opposite of how the media uses the terms.
- (red numbers) The “layoffs” news is double-edged. The ratio of stories using “Christmas” and “layoffs” has gone down from about triple (35.7 divided by 12.2) to a bit more than double (24.8 divided by 10.6), but the raw number of occurrences of “Christmas” and “layoffs” (16,994) dwarfs the number relating to shopping (5,840) by almost 3:1.
The initial conclusion (slightly paraphrased) from 2005 still holds — 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, one notable exception: “Christmas” is a word that is still much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.
- Dec. 11, 2008 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 25, 2008 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 1)
- 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