The Real Story Of Xmas In July


The Xmas in July we have today means shopping spree and holiday airing on television. However, a sleep away camp called Keystone launched this summer holiday celebration for all its campers. It was celebrated in the mountains just out of Asheville, North Carolina some 85 years ago.

The Keystone Camp in Brevard was founded in 1916. Fannie Holt, one of its founders, dreamt of having Xmas in July celebration on the 24th and 25th of July 1933. Several theories featured why she began the event. According to the speculation of the incumbent camp director Page Lemel, it was perhaps meant for camp friends who missed each other on the winter holidays. Or to initiate the secret Santa concept so the girls would make each other some gifts. “Miss Fannie was a really fascinating woman with so much creativity,” Lemel says.

The inauguration of the 1933 Xmas in July at Keystone was covered by the Washington Post. The event was fully recorded along with its gift giving, caroling and a trimmed tree. According to camper Blance Ulmer Pavlis, “The tree was lighted with various colors making it look bright and gay. And who wouldn’t complete the night but Santa Claus himself.After saying hello to everyone, he started to give out gifts. The carolers then started to throw cotton imitations of snow. And those who have never seen snow were quite amazed.”

Girls from as far away as Florida attended the Keystone camp, which is why the tradition of Xmas in July spread widely, Lemel says. Since then, they started to celebrate Xmas every summertime with Santa arriving at the back of a pickup truck and giving away gifts. Nowadays, the camp still holds the holiday party in July with all the girls singing carols, making crafts, and snacking on milk and cookies.

The summer yuletide season gained more popularity when it was filmed in 1940 and just four years later, the United States Post Office promoted the early Christmas card mailing campaign intended for soldiers in the WWII. In the 1950s, many stores used the Xmas in July theme for summer sales and advertisements, which was a big bang!

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