Jul 25, 2020
Welcome to Episode 6 of Holly Jolly X'masu! This being my first Christmas in July episode, I wanted to do something special. I covered a variety of summer-themed or summery-sounding Christmas songs instead of a single album. Considering the current state of the world, I wanted to stick with mostly upbeat songs. I’ll feature the downbeat songs next year.
For anyone who’s ever wondered about the origins of Christmas in July, the earliest reference comes from the 1892 opera, Werther, which featured a scene with children rehearsing a Christmas song in July. In my house when I was a kid, that was just a normal day, but in the opera, it prompts one pre-ghost Scrooge of a character to remark, “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”
The first known celebration of Christmas in July allegedly took place in 1933 at Keystone Camp in Brevard, NC. The camp’s founder, Fannie Holt, decided to stage a Christmas celebration for her campers, complete with Santa, a tree, presents, carolers and even fake snow. The tradition evolved from there and the camp still celebrates it to this day.
The idea first gained some national attention in 1940 with the release Preston Sturges’ Christmas in July. Despite the title, the movie doesn’t feature an actual Christmas celebration, but instead is about a man who mistakenly believes he won $25,000 in a contest and then goes on a Christmas-like shopping spree, buying gifts for his family and friends.
A handful of other local celebrations took place in the 1940s. By 1950, advertisers in America had taken hold of the idea and were using it as a summertime marketing tool. The idea has grown from there, so that now you have networks showing Christmas movies and specials, people decorating their houses, and podcasters creating special episodes. However you choose to observe it, it’s a fun way to divert your attention from the summer heat.
In this episode, I feature ten Christmas songs from ten different artists, each with a summery or tropical feel, or a direct mention of summer. I would include links to where you can buy them, but none of them are available new or streaming in the US. I’ve included the songs, artists and albums below. You can find some of them on Amazon, although you’ll likely have to pay quite a bit to get them.
1. Halcali – Strawberry Chips (Sutoroberīchippusu / ストロベリーチップス), from their 2003 single, Strawberry Chips
2. Akiko Kobayashi – Midsummer Silent Night (Manatsu No Silent Night / 真夏のsilent Night), from the 1989 album, Merry Christmas To You, by Funhouse Ladies Vocal.
3. Yuki Uchida – Tight T-Shirt (Tīshatsu De Gyutto / Tシャツでギュッと), from her 1995 album, Merry Christmas For You.
4. Ginji Ito – Santa Claus In A Red Bikini (Makkana Bikini No Santakurōsu / まっ赤なビキニのサンタクロース), from his 1982 album, Baby Blue.
5. Junko Yamamoto – St. Martin's Summer (Sento Māchin No Natsu / セント・マーチンの夏), from her 1994 album, Junko Yamamoto.
6. Eri Hiramatsu – Holy! Hot Christmas ~Eve No Toubousha~, From her 1993 album, Ichiya Ichidai Ni Yumemikei.
7. MAX – Midsummer Eve (Manatsu No Eve / 真夏のイヴ), from their 2001 album, Feel So Right.
8. Mutant Monster Beach Party – Boys, Cars, Surf And Christmas, from the 1993 CD re-release of the 1987 classic, Mint Sound's X’mas Album.
9. Kuwata Band – Merry X'mas In Summer, from their 1986 single, Merry X’mas in Summer. One thing I need to point out about this song is that, in the episode, I said it was originally by Teresa Teng. This was based on multiple sources I found beforehand that listed her as the lyricist and referred to her cover as the original. As it turns out, Keisuke Kuwata wrote the song and Kuwata Band was the first to perform it. Teresa Teng wrote the Chinese lyrics and released it on her album, Drunken Tango, later that same year.
10. Hi-Fi Set – Christmas In July (7 Tsuki No Kurisumasu / 7月のクリスマス), from their 1984 album, Pasadena Park.
As mentioned in the show, here’s the link to Robbie Nevil’s version of Merry X’mas in Summer, as well as a link to Halcali’s video for Strawberry Chips:
As always, thanks for listening. Next month, I’ll be talking about the 2014 compilation, Flying Dog Christmas. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or recommendations, feel free to send them my way.
Any feedback on this episode would be appreciated. If you’d like to recommend an album for a future episode, drop me a line and let me know.
Remember, I've added a button to my Ko-fi page. If you'd like to support me one cup of coffee at a time, a donation is only $3. Any donations received will be put towards purchasing new Japanese Christmas music to review for future episodes. Thanks!