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The Origins of Christmas in July

As you may know, it’s always Christmas at the Montana Gift Corral! Whenever you come into our shops, you’ll be able to find the perfect ornaments and decorations for that special time of year. We also know you always have an eye for that perfect gift and, when you find it, you better get it and hold onto it. We know there’s no snow on the ground and the sound of sleigh bells in the air are a faint memory, so the Gift Corral wants to bring you Christmas in July!

Five O'Clock Beach

Five O'Clock Beach by Paul Brent from Inner Beauty

Christmas in July has been around for a long time, but where did it start? A little research into the matter points to Keystone Camp, a summer camp for girls in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I actually grew up about a half hour from Keystone Camp and had no idea the tradition of Christmas in July started there all the way back in 1933. From the sounds of that first Christmas in July, the camp went all out! They had fake snow made from cotton, a handsomely decorated tree, a gift exchange and, naturally, Santa! Counselors-in-training would spend the evening of July 24th with candlelight caroling and campers would hang their laundry bags on their doors to be filled with candy after they went off to bed. The next day Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, and Reindeer would arrive in a red pick-up truck and everyone would eat cookies and drink hot cocoa (yes, even in July in North Carolina). Once the Claus’ were seated, campers would pass around the gifts they had made in the camp’s craft shop the week leading up to the big celebration. Ever since, Keystone Camp has kept the tradition alive.

Dogs Watching Santa Lighted Print by RAZ Imports

Dogs Watching Santa Lighted Print by RAZ Imports

The idea of a Christmas in July either spread from this little camp or appeared organically elsewhere over the years. In 1940 it became part of American pop culture with the movie Christmas in July. In the film, one man’s coworkers pull a prank having him believe his work won a prize for $25,000. This leads to the man taking on the jolly air of St. Nick as he buys gifts for people to celebrate his good fortune. Like any good classic movie, there’s romance and love sprinkled in with all the summer Christmas cheer.

Fishing Vest Ornament by Old World Christmas

Fishing Vest Ornament by Old World Christmas

Christmas in July in Bozeman reminds me that the cold weather, feet of snow, and all the fun things I like to do in winter are just around the corner, so I should make the most of the warmth, sunshine, and long days. This year, a little bit of Christmas in July is just what we need to spark some cheer and joy. Come by the Montana Gift Corral for all your Christmas needs, whether that’s in July, December, or anywhere in between!

Written by Stephen McNeal

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