Twelve Datasets of Christmas 2022

It’s Christmas at Mean, Median and Moose! That means we’ll stretch ourselves to finding twelve Christmas related data sets. Let’s see what we managed to find this year! If you want to see 2021’s charts you can find them here.

iTunes Charts

Let’s start with looking at the top 10 ranked movies on iTunes over 2020 to 2022. 2021 was a quieter year than 2020 when it came to Christmas movies on iTunes. We’re looking at a bounce back this year though with Benedict Cumberbach’s The Grinch coming in strong as the number one ranking. This data from Flixpatrol. You can access an interactive version of this graph here.

Last Minute Gifts

Always find yourself scrambling for a last minute gift over the holidays? The good news is, you’re not alone. Google Trends web search data from 2019 to 2021 shows just how common this is for Canadians. It ranks interest over time for a search term, with this meaning: “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”

December ranks consistently as the month with the highest interest in searching for last minute gift ideas, with interest in the week before Christmas increasing year-over-year with a score of 39 in 2019, 52 in 2020, and 100 in 2021. Of the five provinces with data, funny enough, Nova Scotians take the cake with the most interest in this search term, with an interest score of 100, followed by BC at 88, Ontario at 72, Alberta at 38, and Quebec at 16. And the city with the most gift procrastination? Vancouver, which is trailed by Ottawa at a score of 86, Edmonton at 73, Winnipeg at 70, and Toronto at 51.

Polar Bear Plunge

A tradition for some more adventurous individuals new years day often has them jumping into a body of water! One of the oldest Polar Bear Plunges in Canada is in Vancouver which stretches back to the 1920s. Since 1976 data is available for how many registered participants were involved as well as the water temperature. Each year a trophy is given out to the first man and women to reach the 100M buoy off shore. 

The large spike in 2020 in registrations isn’t clear but this plunge is one of many across the region it is possible they expanded registration or attached a new incentive/sponsor. This made me interested in whether the plunge was attracting more people from the Vancouver area proportionally to the region’s populations.

The charts look very similar to one another but the relatively flat second chart shows that there is some proportional growth as the plunge in attendance has kept pace with the region’s population growth. 

Building a Mathematically Perfect Snowman

The folks at OmniCalculator make a lot of nifty online calculators, including one that helps you figure out the exact size of snowman you can build in your yard given the depth of snowfall, how much of the snow you can use, and the size of your yard, or the amount of snow you need to build a snowman of a given size. It’s a bit of nerdy Christmas fun with other fun features like calculating your snowman’s life expectancy and the weight of each of the balls in the snowman. There’s even a little discussion of how to get the most aesthetically pleasing snowman by adhering to the golden ratio. It’s great fun and you should check it out!

The Canadian City Christmas Snowman Index

The snowman calculator is so much fun that we developed an index to identify the Christmas Snowman Capital of Canada (a gorgeous tourism hashtag if we ever saw one).

Based on the information put forward in the calculator, the freezing point is the ideal  temperature for a snowman and obviously you need to have some snow on the ground to build one, so our index counts the number of days in December that the high temperature is between -2 and +2 Celcius with at least some precipitation. The more ideal snowman days in December, the higher your city ranks.

It’s pretty labour-intensive to aggregate Canadian weather data because it tends to be collected by weather stations and there are a lot of individual weather stations in Canada. Fortunately, Statistics Canada publishes temperature and precipitation data in aggregate for 13 major cities in Canada going back to 1940, so we used that as the basis for our work. 

St. John’s is the Christmas Snowman Capital of Canada, with a total of 654 ideal snowman days in December since 1940. Toronto is a distant second at 355, leading a cluster of pretty good snow cities that include Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. Prairie and Northern cities fare poorly in this index with Saskatoon at the bottom of the rankings having only 14 ideal snowman days in December since 1940.

Average Price for Egg Nog Ingredients -John

It’s getting more expensive to make Christmas’ strangest and most delicious drink, but it’s not the sugar and instead the proteins. Interestingly, while milk has been somewhat stable except for recent history, eggs have had a steady increase that started even before the pandemic.

Non-Resident Antarctica Visitors

Ever wonder how many holiday visitors we get from the southernmost continent of the world? Given Antarticaca’s population of between only 1,000 and 5,000 seasonally, surprisingly, according to Table 24-10-0050-01 from Statistics Canada, we’ve gotten quite a few!

Month/YearNon-Resident Visitors
December 20170
December 201875
December 201938
December 20205
December 202125
Non-Resident Visitors Entering Canada from Antarctica, December 2017-2021

Visits from our southernmost continent peaked in 2018 at 75, after no visits at all in 2017! 38 Antarcticans managed to visit in December 2019, and despite COVID travel restrictions, 5 Antarticans visited us in December 2020 and 25 in December 2021. Where in Canada are these Antarticans headed to, you might ask?

Destination of Non-Resident Visitors Entering Canada from Antarctica, December 2018

Looking at the peak travel year in December 2018, 42 of the 75 Antarctica visitors were headed to Quebec, with another 22 headed to BC, 5 to Ontario, 3 to Nova Scotia, 2 to Saskatchewan, and 1 to Manitoba.

Wikipedia Articles to do with both “Christmas” and “Canada”

We wanted to know the nature of Canadian Christmas wikipedia articles. There is no article for “Christmas in Canada”, but there is a South Park episode with a 1,000 word write up called “It’s Christmas in Canada”. The actual content specifically related to Canadian traditions is relegated to a subsection of the “Observance of Christmas by Country” article. That subsection describing Canada contains 440 words.

What about the rest of the 27,827 articles containing both the words “Christmas” and “Canada”? The word counts here follow the long tail common in content generated on the internet.

Note that we’re only looking at the top 10,000 “most relevant” articles here because Wikipedia (somewhat understandably) won’t let you page past that result. 

So, what were the longest articles containing both “Christmas” and “Canada” – the ones populating the furthest reaches on that long tail? Here’s the list of the top 20 in word counts:

Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom (July–December 2021)39752
Culture of the United Kingdom33472
Canada convoy protest32659
Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom (July–December 2020)32001
Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II (category Monarchy in Canada)31707
Elvis Presley27467
List of United States Christmas television episodes27432
Observance of Christmas by country26565
Culture of England (section Celebration of Christmas)26535
Drake (musician) (redirect from Drake (Canadian musician))25881
List of Jews in sports25771
Carrie Underwood (category Canadian Country Music Association Song of the Year winners)24765
Mariah Carey (redirect from Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas)24484
2022 FIFA World Cup (redirect from Christmas World Cup)24190
Charles III (redirect from Charles III of Canada)24171
The Beach Boys (section British Invasion  Shut Down  All Summer Long  and Christmas Album)24004
List of Downton Abbey characters23398
Justin Bieber (redirect from JB (Canadian singer))23338
Spice Girls23110
Dolores O’Riordan (category Irish expatriates in Canada)22809

You can see that many of these articles don’t have much to do with either Christmas or Canada directly. Here’s a chart showing the breakdown of mentions for each of them:

Christmas Bonuses in Canada

In 2019, ADP which is a national HR and Payroll firm in Canada commissioned a survey by Leger asking employees about their preferences for work related to holiday bonuses and activities. 

ADP Canada Study on Holiday Rewards (CNW Group/ADP Canada Co.)

Across Canada – Atlantic Canada was most likely to get a monetary bonus; BC was most likely to get additional time/days off; where as the Saskatchewn, Manitoba and Alberta were most likely to not expect anything from their employers and have to come into the office. 

Retail Sales Christmas Bump

Many retailers count on high Christmas sales to make their year. We wanted to see which retail categories get the most benefit from the holiday season, so we took the Statistics Canada data for monthly retail sales, categorized using the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) and compared the annual average sales to sales in December for 2019, 2020 and 2021 by measuring the percentage increase in sales. The measurement specifically is the change (December – the average) divided by the average, so a value of 168 means that sales were more than two and a half times the monthly average.

We produced a heat map to show these values over time, which you can see below. The top categories over the past three years were skiing and snowboarding equipment which sells 168% faster than of the normal pace in December, which is probably a seasonal rather than holiday impact, toys and games excluding video game hardware and software which do an extra 155% of average monthly sales in December, Video game consoles and Men’s Sleepwear at 128% and 127% respectively, followed by video game software and fine jewelry at 126%. 

At the other end of the spectrum is a bunch of seasonal stuff that sells significantly less in December than the annual average: outdoor home furniture, home and garden supplies, motor homes and campers, lawn and garden equipment and boats, which points to a flaw in our analysis: the size of the effect of seasonal sales may drown out the effect of gift purchases across many categories. It’s all a bit of holiday fun so we won’t worry too much about that! This graph shows you just a few results. To see the entire chart check out Doug’s Observable notebook on the topic.

Sales of Sleepwear, Underwear, Lingerie, and Hosiery

With the holiday season comes an explosion of store displays of pajamas and the expectation of receiving a cozy onesie or a pack of underwear under the tree. But do Canadians stock up on their PJs and undies all year round, or is the holiday season the time to buy? Looking at Table 20-10-0017-01 from Statistics Canada, with monthly data from the Retail Commodity Survey, there’s a clear pattern of getting these essentials right around the holidays!

Women spend a lot more on their lingerie, sleepwear, and underwear overall, with sales totaling over 2 billion dollars in 2021, while men spent just over 1 billion dollars on their sleepwear, underwear, and hosiery in 2021. Sales peaked in December each year for both women and men, with average sales of $239,131,000 in December 2019, 2020, and 2021 for women and $182,899,000 for men. Looking at the lowest sales between 2019-2021, we see what is likely the COVID shutdowns coming into play as both women and men’s sales dropped to their lowest point between March 2020 and May 2020, with women’s sales at only $61,432,000 in April 2020 and men’s sales at only $25,054,000. Safe to safe Canadians do love their annual holiday PJ and underwear restock!

Air Travel over the Holidays

The  Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is a Crown corporation responsible for securing specific elements of the air transportation system – from passenger and baggage screening to screening airport workers. They track the number of people who are screened at airports on a daily basis on their website. They publish this data for the 8 and 17 largest airports in Canada. 

You can clearly see in the 2020 and 2021 data the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also see the recovery in air screenings through 2022 as people began to travel again. When you zoom in on December to look at the holiday travel season you can see in more detail the travel days and how the ebb in flow during the month. 

Based on the 2019 data by the second week of January air travel tends to have a sharp decline as people return from holidays. 

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