It’s the most wonderful five months of the year for Christmas Google searches

12 Nov 2014

Grinches can gripe at the news Christmas is indeed starting earlier every year after research in Ireland suggested Google users are searching for Christmas terms as early as August.

Nathan Cunningham, who conducted the research for the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) in the UK, said the reason he decided to pursue the data study was because he wanted to see whether the Grinch-like attitude to Christmas was actually true.

By splitting the number of search terms between ‘Christmas period’ and ‘non-Christmas period’ depending on how frequently the term arose, Cunningham was able to use cluster analysis to show that when his records began in 2007, terms including ‘elf’, ‘Home Alone’, ‘toy show’ and ‘presents’ were deemed to have started on 11 November in that year.

While not consistently lowering each year, Cunningham’s analysis was able to show that six years later in 2013, Christmas had begun, at least with regard to online, on 25 August. However, Cunningham is hesitant to say that it is defining proof that Grinches are correct in saying that Christmas is starting earlier every year.

“It is difficult to confirm whether this trend reflects a true early arrival of Christmas, or is merely a chance observation resulting from random variation in the data,” said Cunningham.

“However, given the extreme nature of the findings, they alone provide food for thought and serve to further the popular notion that Christmas is coming earlier every year.”

He did confirm, “As a fan of all things Christmas – I’ll admit that I’m the friend who listens to Christmas music all year round – I welcome the trend, long may it continue!”

The data collected as part of this research only reflects Irish internet users, however, and Cunningham does stress that the findings could also show different results depending on a different country and, indeed, culture.

Over-worked Santa image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic