HARVEST Festival, Halloween and Bonfire Night have not yet rolled round but last week I spied a little net of foil-wrapped chocolate balls in a Mold supermarket.
On closer inspection, the foil proved to be Christmas pudding patterned.
The innocent-looking little treats suddenly took on a sinister meaning – they became the vanguard of an invasion of mince pies, crackers, huge tubs of sweets and speciality cheeses.
Staple, sensible foods would retreat behind stacks of red and green boxes while my favourite treats would fall beneath an avalanche of puddings and pâtés.
The phenomenon of the commercial Christmas season expanding beyond Advent and, apparently, beyond winter, is not a new one.
On one hand, it couldbe seen as a good thing for the hyper-organised or those who want to spread the cost of an expensive time of year.
But on the other, it seems nonsensical – there’s almost a third of a year to go before Christmas Day.
We asked Flintshire and Wrexham Leader readers whether they had spotted any Christmas goodies in stores and what they thought of the phenonenon.
Tricia Yesildal, 46, of Flint, said: “They used to wait until after Halloween before putting things out. I’ve seen Christmas things in the shops to go with the ‘going back to school’ things.”
Gary Simpson, 40, of Wrexham, said: “It’s all taking the shine off Christmas. I can understand small businesses and bars taking orders for Christmas – but supermarkets?
“Everyone will be fed up by November. Yule logs with a October sell-by date? Really? It’s way too commercialised, spoils it completely.”
Postie Steve Davies of Connah’s Quay said he’d started delivering Christmas-themed catalogues a month ago
Donna Hopkins, 28, of Connah’s Quay, had a balanced view.
She said: “In a way I understand. I run a small business from home and am advertising Christmas stuff already and accepting Christmas orders because my stuff is made by hand.
“However, some things have a short shelf life and will go out-of-date long before Christmas.
“I know some people have started Christmas shopping for one reason or another but I don’t agree with the shops putting as much as they do out so early on.”
Vickie Jowitt of Wrexham, a manager at Card Factory, pointed out that, for people who are paid monthly, there are only three more pay days left before the season starts.
She said: “It puts a different perspective on things. Also some people send things abroad and have to buy early to get it in the post!”
Ant White, 49, of Connah’s Quay, pointed out that mince pies were available all year round, although not as many as at Christmas – a fact confirmed by staff at several supermarket chains, including Morrisons.
But other, more Christmas-specific items, are already on sale.
Kate Jones, who studied at Deeside College and now works in Chester, spotted Advent calendars in local branches of Morrisons, as did a number of sharp-eyed readers, while Angela Buckland, 40, of Connah’s Quay, and Kelly Roberts, of Wrexham, spied more in B&M.
Kelly said: “They have a few shelves of Christmas decorations already. I mean, come on, Halloween hasn’t even been yet.”
Natalie Jones, 25, of Mostyn agreed, saying: “What I want to know is where are the Halloween products? It’s far too early to sell Christmas products, no matter how much I love it! ”
Wayne Foster, 38, of Holywell, said: “It’s getting beyond a joke. It’s not the same for the kids these days, not like it was for us when we were younger.”
Sian Fagan, 48, from Broughton, found some Advent calendars and chocolates in a branch of Tesco.
Bob Rooke, 32, of Sandycroft, quipped: “Give it a couple of years and they’ll have them in summer!” while Toni-Lea Trickett, 24, of Connah’s Quay, said: “It is definitely getting a bit ridiculous.”
Sonia Clennell, 49, of Buckley, said: “It spoils the build up of Christmas when they start selling Christmas food too early.
“It’s supposed to be a special family time and the atmosphere is totally spoilt by bringing in the Christmas fare to the shops in September.”
Sandra Owens, 59, of Wrexham, remembered one Christmas where it paid to prepare early.
She said: “A few years ago, we had a family Christmas on September 25 so long-distance relatives were travelling in better weather than in December.
“I got all the Christmas goodies I needed! But the ‘best before’ date on mince pies and chocolate logs and other Xmas goodies was November so there was not much point in advance for the real Christmas Day.”
Susan Miller, 51, of Wrexham, noticed packs of crackers on a recent shopping trip but refused to buy any, while Elaine Lambert, 38, of Connah’s Quay, found packs of cards in a charity shop.
Bev Herniman-Jones, 43, of Wrexham said: “I work in a shop and I’m embarrassed to say that the Christmas puds and mince pies are out. Next to the barbecue coal, I hasten to add. On Christmas Eve, Easter eggs come in!”
Leah Douglas, 25, of Rhos said: “I think it’s so stupid selling stuff for Christmas. It’s well too early!”
Delivery driver Dean Lawson, 26, of Wrexham, revealed that he’d been shipping Christmas items to a major supermarket since August 12.
He said: “Every little helps, I suppose.”