Weary of Christmas tunes freezing out fall celebrations? You’re not just imagining the jingle bells and carols coming earlier each year. According to Spotify plays tracked by EveryNoise, most places started their surge in seasonal listening November 1.
But some countries started the party far earlier. The Philippines, heavily Catholic and among the most devotedly Christian nations on earth, is the first to start playing Christmas music, with a spike on September 1. The country streams classics as well as local favorites like Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas In Our Hearts.”
By October 28, the festive Philippines had competition from some largely secular but spirited countries: Iceland and the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Iceland currently leads the world in Christmas listening, with holiday tunes making up more than 8 percent of all streamed music, over triple the global average.
The United States crossed into the Christmas music threshold—playing at least 2 percent Christmas songs—within the past week.
In recent years, many countries make the switch before December (in 2017, 31 countries had passed the Christmas music threshold by then). But South American countries like Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil don’t start their Christmas music in earnest until Christmas Eve of Christmas Day, while little Liechtenstein ends on a high note: In the days leading up to Christmas 70 percent of music streamed in the country is holiday music, triple the global average.
Once the holiday music begins, listeners can expect one song to dominate: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is the most-streamed Christmas song on the planet. (You have to go much further down the list to find a distinctly Christian Christmas song, with Pentatonix’s “Mary Did You Know?” currently ranking No. 31.)
For faith-based radio stations, many of which are listener supported, the decision to switch to Christmas music means balancing the urge to be first with the desires of listeners.
For the Word FM Radio Network based in Eastern Pennsylvania, listeners want to wait until after Thanksgiving. The network offers a 60/40 mix of Christmas music and CCM music starting the day after Thanksgiving. One week before Christmas, the 16 stations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland switch to an all-Christmas playlist.
Meg Geissinger, program director, said the network feels the pull to try being the first station in a radio market to put on Christmas music, but it doesn’t always go as planned. WordFM started Christmas music on the Saturday before Thanksgiving one year, but other stations still had them beat and some listeners thought it was too early for Christmas tunes.
During the holidays, the Christmas music might attract listeners who might otherwise not listen to Christian stations.
“The opportunity to play Christmas music that is quickly recognizable means the person searching for Christmas music may land on our station and stay awhile—this presents a deeper opportunity to introduce the listener to Jesus,” Geissinger said.
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Source: Christianity Today