For me, the Christmas season doesn't start until December 1st or at least until the day after Thanksgiving. Now I enjoy Christmas...the decorations, the music, etc. but personally, I just can't sustain the "Christmas spirit" (or any holiday anticipation/excitement for that matter) for more than a month. For the same reason, I don't start celebrating Halloween in August or Independence Day in June. This is why it's so disappointing for me when stores begin removing Halloween decorations in early October in place of Christmas trees. I like to enjoy holidays one at a time and when I've been hearing "Jingle Bells" for two months straight, it is difficult not to be covering my ears by the time December 25th actually rolls around.
I definitely think the push to begin celebrating Christmas as early as possible is mostly driven by companies looking to capitalize on consumer spend, which is obviously highest during this time of year. However, for those who legitimately feel "Christmassy" during early Fall, more power to you, celebrate away. That being said, I simply can’t help but roll my eyes at the ornaments and candy canes being hauled out while kids are still trick-or-treating. Call me a Grinch.
Personally, I'd say better early than late. I'm a big holiday guy, and a big reason for that is their individual atmospheres—and for me, more than any other holiday, I can feel Christmas. So if bells start jingling, say, two months out, I'm okay with that because the atmosphere will be palpable by the time the holiday's within sight on the calendar. Nothing's worse than a tradition without its soul—if I'm with my family on the morning of the 25th and it hasn't felt like Christmas for weeks, it's hardly Christmas. It's, like, Wednesday, and why are we all sitting around a tree?
There are limits to this. The Hallmark Channel starts playing Christmas movies in July, and I am no fan of that. Other holidays deserve their due. The Fourth of July has a great little atmosphere of its own. Halloween does, too. If bells start jingling in October, it's best they're quiet so the month can remain sufficiently spooky. November, though? Deck the halls. The Thanksgiving atmosphere is best with Big Christmas looming large.
Although I'm not a practicing Christian anymore, I still enjoy the holiday festivities when my family celebrates. We generally start baking cookies and putting up decorations at the beginning of December and have a gathering on Christmas Eve with the immediate family.
My favorite celebration usually falls between Christmas Day and New Years Eve, which is our annual "Cousin's Party," where members of my extended family visit home and we all gather at my great-aunt's house. It's always a lot of fun to see people who normally don't have a chance to attend family gatherings!