While Christmas itself is a fixed date on the calendar, there is no real consensus no when the “Christmas Season” begins.
For retailers, it starts as early as late October, when the first Christmas displays compete with Halloween merchandise on store shelves.
For some, it may be the arrival of “Black Friday,” when shoppers pour into stores in the wee hours to take advantage of various sales and discounts. In fact, Black Friday has backed into Thanksgiving Day itself, with some retailers opening even before the Thanksgiving Day table has been cleared.
Although everyone is free to judge for themselves when the Christmas Season has arrived, we prefer to set our internal holiday clock by less commercial events.
So for us, the Christmas Season begins Friday with the 13th annual Wassail Fest in downtown Columbus. The event is sort of a jump-start for the holiday spirit, as downtown businesses wage a friendly competition to determine the best wassail (a spiced apple cider drink of various concoctions — with or without alcohol).
Organized by Main Street Columbus, the event is designed to promote downtown businesses, and while it does bring large crowds our businesses covet, it also serves another purpose — it brings us all together in what is essentially a Christmas street party. Nothing promotes the Christmas spirit like the company of friends and neighbors, after all.
We note the Christmas season is a bit late in arriving this year, mainly because the weather simply wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. Both the Starkville Christmas Parade and the Columbus Tree Lighting ceremony, were canceled Monday because of rain.
The weather is expected to cooperate Friday, although rain may yet intrude on another planned celebration, Saturday’s Caledonia Christmas Parade, if the forecast can be trusted.
Whether or not — maybe we should say, weather or not — rain continues to be a contrarian, there will be plenty of events between Friday and the big day itself to put us in the Christmas mood, including Monday’s Columbus Christmas Parade.
There will be no shortage of celebrations, programs and concerts to follow.
We believe Wassail Fest is an excellent way to usher in the Christmas season in a relaxed, convivial spirit. We encourage everyone to join us downtown to drink a cup of Christmas cheer.
‘Tis the season, as the saying goes.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.