I just returned from summer vacation in Croatia on Friday. I am still harvesting tomatoes from my garden. It was 28° C (82° F) yesterday afternoon and school doesn’t start in Graz until Monday. Yet when I biked to the grocery store to correct my Mother Hubbard situation, I was greeted by popup displays of Christmas cookies and the above in-store flier. The headline reads: “It is never too early for Lebkuchen.”

Lebkuchen are an Austrian/German Christmastime treat and my absolute favorite Christmas cookie. However, as much as I love them, September is way too early for Lebkuchen. I have lamented in earlier posts about big grocery store chains artificially hyping products to increase sales. Apparently, the executives of these companies don’t read my blog. How unfortunate. If they don’t want to read my blog, they should listen to The Byrds or read Ecclesiastes:

There is a time to bake the Lebkuchen; a time to praise the Lebkuchen; a time to partake of the Lebkuchen; and a time to run off the extra kilos caused by partaking of the Lebkuchen.

Promoting Christmas in early September isn’t healthy. Christmas creep focuses our attention far in the future and hampers enjoyment of traditions and holidays associated with autumn. Halloween and All Saints Day lose importance as do harvesting rituals like Erntedankfest or Thanksgiving.

Kicking off the Christmas season early also destroys the meaning and purpose of the holiday. Christmastime is a season of anticipation culminating in the festival and feast on December 24/25. The beauty is in the buildup, but we can’t keep up the momentum for 15 weeks. To make a comparison to endurance sports, most marathon training plans only run 12 weeks because performance drops if you train longer.

Christmas shouldn’t be a marathon. It should be a time of retrospection and healthy expectation.

Finally, if you are going to eat Lebkuchen – which you should – then bake them yourself. For German speakers here is a link to thirty-five different Lebkuchen recipes. For English speakers, authentic recipes are harder to find, but here is a traditional one.

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