Christmas in July’s summer camp origins

It’s July 25, which means it’s Christmas in July, a holiday that gives summer camps an excuse to have a staff member dress up like Santa Claus and play Christmas music all day.

It’s appropriate considering the term Christmas in July has its origins in summer camp.

According to Wikipedia, usage of the term Christmas in July dates back to July 1933 at Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina and the “earliest known occasion to make the phrase Christmas in July literal.” The girl’s camp celebrated July 25 that year with a Christmas tree, presents and a visit by Santa Claus and maintained that tradition pretty much since (several alumni reference Christmas in July on this page of the camp website).

Outside of summer camp, the term is used a lot in marketing and advertising, a practice that dates back to the 1950s.

As common as it seems to be celebrated at summer camp, Christmas in July at camp has only made it into pop culture on one occasion that I’m aware of – an episode of Camp Candy when the camp celebrate Christmas.

The above photo is from a Christmas in July celebration in 2011 from the camp I attended growing up. Do you have a story about celebrating Christmas in July at summer camp? Share it in the comments.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

1 Comment

  1. We used to re-write “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to fit camp, and had the camp hang their “stocking” on the tent pole. The ad staff would go around at night and fill the socks with candy and other treats. It was always one of my favorite days at camp.

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