Wikipedia Page Views to Visualize the Christmas Season
Does Black Friday matter?
Merry Christmas! Over the last few months, you have been surrounded by Christmas music, movies, decorations, etc. But, when did it all begin? November first after Halloween? Black Friday? December first? Last year, I discussed when the Christmas season started. I found some good data, but I missed a fantastic dataset, Wikipedia pageview data. They are an accurate proxy for search volume, unlike the google trends I used last year. Beyond search volume, which accounts for people searching for a youtube video to listen to, Wikipedia pageviews gauge how much interest there is in learning more about a topic.
So, I graphed the pageviews between 1 October 2021 and 30 January 2022 for 6 of the top 10 most streamed Christmas songs on Spotify. The dotted vertical line is American Thanksgiving. The graphs followed the general trends that would be expected, with a spike in late December, but there was a surprising amount of variation.
Most songs had a slow, gradual increase from November to the peak at Christmas. Two of them, Baby, It’s Cold Outside and All I Want for Christmas Is You, have a significant spike in early November. Oddly, Baby, It’s Cold Outside’s views stay high, compared to its peers, through November and December. I think this has something to do with the explosion of cultural commentary about the song over the past few years. Compare that to All I Want for Christmas Is You which has a dramatic spike on 1 November, falls, and then surges after American Thanksgiving.
Feliz Navidad has the least popular of the 6 songs through November, but it has the highest peak at Christmas. Post-Christmas, 5 of the 6 songs have a dramatic slide to the rest of the year norm. The outlier is Last Christmas which has a slight New Year’s bump.
It is important to ensure that the trends you see for one year are reflected in previous years. I should have done some sort of smoothed average, but that requires real data science to account for the differences in view volume between years. Below is the simpler option, the curve for All I Want for Christmas Is You for the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022 Christmas seasons. The dotted line is American Thanksgiving for each year.
The curves look similar enough to say that this year was not an outlier. Based on the data, no matter how early retail would like to start the Christmas season, interest in Christmas music is minimal until the first of November. Even then, the vast majority of interest is between the start of secular advent on 1 December and Christmas Day. American Thanksgiving coincides with an increase in consumer interest in some years but not others. Because of that, it is hard to see it as the start of the Christmas season.
I have started a job here in Copenhagen and therefore have less time to write and work with data. I am going to be switching to a monthly posting schedule and turning paid subscriptions off. Thank you to everyone who has supported my work over the past year! The 70 posts I released since I moved to Copenhagen have been viewed more than 15 thousand times.