Lest We Forget: No Christmas carols until after Remembrance Day

A soldier places poppies on a grave on Remembrance Day / CBC

It was 12:30 in the morning on November 1. I had an assignment due the next day so naturally I was still up. I hear a ping from my phone. I have an email. I’d like to do some procrastinating so I decide to open it. It’s an advertisement for Christmas trees. Halloween has been over for literally 30 minutes and retailers are already trying to tell me it’s Christmas time. In the morning, I went to Shoppers hoping to score some half price candy. It was gone, and in its place were Christmas cards, gift sets and sparkle-covered reindeer ornaments. What happened to autumn?

Each year it seems the Christmas retail season starts earlier and earlier. Stores fill up with gifts for him, for her, for the kids, for grandma, and everything is covered in glitter. Christmas music starts to play everywhere you go and ugly Christmas sweaters come out of hiding. Twinkle lights go up and elves pop up on shelves. It’s really not okay.

I swear I’m not a grinch. I like a good secular Christmas celebration as much as the next person. I’m not a religious person either, so my issue with this isn’t related to the meaning of the holiday. I just believe that there is a right time to start celebrating the holiday season, and now is not it. We’ve got a lot going on between now and Christmas, and maybe we need to be giving ourselves time to get that done.

The thing that concerns me most is how easily people seem to ignore Remembrance Day. We forget that we’re supposed to be remembering. In the current political situation around the world, remembering wars that pulled in all corners of the earth and killed millions of people is really important. We don’t want to repeat history.

By emphasizing Christmas so soon after Halloween, and in some places right after Thanksgiving in October, retailers are ignoring one of the most important days in the Canadian calendar. Remembrance Day may not be cheerful and  bright, but the message is just as important.

Armistice day marks the day that World War I ended. It is celebrated as a day to remember all of the people who have died in wars throughout history. In Canada, the Governor General leads the country in a remembrance ceremony at the National war memorial in Ottawa. The ceremony is attended by veterans and dignitaries from all over Canada.

All we have to do is wear a poppy, which we purchase each year to support veterans, and not forget. It’s not that hard to stand silent for two minutes and remember the sacrifices of those who came before us. When we remember how much they gave to help make the world we live in, maybe we’ll be less inclined to go back there. It’s not time to sing Christmas carols yet. It’s time to remember.

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