I can't be sure when it started, but I think it's been in the past decade that the retailers began jumping on the holiday bandwagons much earlier than most people think reasonable. I first spotted Christmas decorations and seasonal foods on sale this year at Woolworths in Centro Dianella in the early days of October. Other retailers soon followed.
The remnants of the left-over Easter eggs had barely been sold off at gross discounts before their place was taken by the Christmas goods. Those Easter chocolates now include a great range of chocolate rabbits and the battling Easter bilby. (Click that, scroll down and you'll see a cute furry animal and two humans nearly throttling it. And here for a better view of the furry beast). These left-overs are often partially crushed/melted and are the wounded debris of the last days of pre-public-holiday shopping. Their metallic paper wrappers are usually dented like a depressed-fracture of the skull and they are about the most pitiful-looking stuff to ever hit the remainder shelves. Only a few years ago they were disposed of more discreetly, now they're shamelessly flogged.
(Alston, the cartoonist for The West Australian, has done a couple of good cartoons on this in recent years. In the first he shows the Easter Bunny riding with Santa Claus in his sleigh and saying "Thanks for the lift, mate. Joining forces is a good idea in the current economic climate." In the next year's the Bunny was being unpleasant, abusing a tardy Santa in a store: "Come on, you lazy old bastard, get a move on! It's my turn!")
Woolworths has a nauseating jingle they keep playing over their speaker system that contains the phrase "We're Woolworths the fresh food people". This is sung as, "Ther freshh fooood pee-pullll" in an unctuous and conceited tone by the sorts of voices you hear in jingles. All so loving and sweet. I loathe the blasted thing. A few weeks back I was in their Dianella store with a female friend and I busted out singing my own take on it: "We're Woolworths the greeeedy baaastaards and we're ripping you off! we're ripping you off!! we're ripping you off todaaay!!!" She joined in and a couple of other people chimed in as well in the aisle we were in. Other people in other aisles could be heard laughing. Then security was called for over the speakers and a couple of people prowled the aisles looking for the "offenders". They didn't have a clue who'd done it so I approached one of these twits and told her that it was a couple of bikies who'd just gone out the exit lane. They lost interest at that point. I couldn't believe it at the time, but in retrospect it was only to be expected. They're allowed to sing irritating songs to you. You can't reciprocate.
IGA at Dianella also has a cold eye and a hard jaw. Once, in IGA, I saw a store employee clearing the bakery shelves and chucking the unsold bread, cakes, etc. into a trolley very roughly. I asked her, "Does this all go to the tip?" She replied that it did. Baker's Delight at Dianella gives their daily surplus to charity workers who collect it at the end of business. I mentioned this and asked why IGA didn't do the same. She said, with some disgust, "I know; we've suggested it to the management here, but they don't want to know." Yep, they're all great lovers of humanity and full of generous spirit.
These two festivals, Christmas and Easter, bookend important sales phases in the business calendar and Jesus is the last thing on their minds. I've often thought we should bring back the pagan gods for these sorts of events. They liked a good booze up and cutting a deal or two. No-one had to pretend they were in it for love and self-improvement. We don't really have to believe in them, they can just be useful commercial vehicles. And there are so many of them. They'd fill the calendar. Actually, maybe I could sell that idea for something...