December 18


Is The Christmas Season Bullish For U.S. Markets?

By Jeff Swanson

December 18, 2023

EasyLanguage, ES, seasonality, SPY

With the Christmas season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to review how the S&P behaves in the days just before Christmas. Do the days just before this holiday tend to be bullish, bearish, or neutral?

To test the market behavior just before the Christmas holiday I will use the S&P Cash index back in 1960. I will create an EasyLanguage strategy that will enter a trade X days before Christmas and close that trade on the opening of the first trading day after Christmas. Each trade will dedicate $100,000 to purchase shares. Stops, and both commissions and slippage are not utilized in this study.

Ten Days Before Christmas

First let's look at the 10 days before Christmas. What happens if we enter a trade X days before Christmas and close that trade on the open after Christmas? By using TradeStation's optimize feature I can systematically test each day over the historical data. The results of each test is the generated P&L for each iteration and is depicted in the bar graph below. Looking at the graph, each bar on the x-axis represents the number of days before Christmas.

It appears that the 10 days before Christmas all show positive P&L. In general, the longer you're holding period before Christmas the better.

Ten Days After Christmas

Using a similar trading system, I will look at entering a trade on open of trading day following Christmas and holding that trade for X days. Below is a bar graph showing the days 1-10 after Christmas. Again, each bar represents P&L and the x-axis is the number of days the trade is held.

Historically, all days after Christmas in our study have returned positive results. Unlike the 10 days before Christmas, in this case it appears there is not much gain for holding beyond five days.

The Christmas Trade

Based on the information above, which seems to show a strong bullish biased for the days immediately before and after Christmas, I'm going to create another strategy that will open a trade five days before Christmas and closes that trade five days after Christmas. I picked five days simply because it was the middle value (1-10) for the days before and after Christmas we tested. Last year's Christmas Trade (December 2022) was a losing trade. It's pictured below.

Christmas Trade 2022

Christmas Trade 2022

When you combine all the trades going back to 1960 we get the following equity curve and performance, below. The last equity peek was in 2021.

Christmas Trade Equity Curve

Christmas Trade Equity Curve


There certainly does seem to be a very strong bullish tendency around Christmas. The most recent action looks a little more flat. However, we did have a new equity high in 2021.

Can you take advantage of this in your trading? Perhaps. Remember, the code with this article is not a complete trading system, but an indicator to help me gauge the market behavior around the Christmas holiday. If you have trading systems or trade a discretionary method around these days before and after Christmas, you might use this knowledge to ignore short signals, or modify your exit based upon what we learned. 

Jeff Swanson

About the author

Jeff has built and traded automated trading systems for the futures markets since 2008. He is the creator of the online courses System Development Master Class and Alpha Compass. Jeff is also the founder of EasyLanguage Mastery - a website and mission to empower the EasyLanguage trader with the proper knowledge and tools to become a profitable trader.

  • Thanks for posting this article Jeff. There is certainly opportunity to turn the seasonal strength of the stock market around Christmas into an effective trading system.

    I have found that adding a market direction filter to ensure you are only buying into a relatively strong market and only buying strong stocks within that market make a big difference to the edge you generate.

    There is also quite some advantage in adding an additional exit to get out of any stock holding which starts falling during this period of seasonal strength due to some stock specific factor.

    While this is only a once a year trade, it can be a valuable part of a portfolio of trading systems.

    Thanks again


  • Hi Jeff. With no intention, I started to operate a simple breakOut strategy into SP500 and I won almost all my operations. Good time to start, but in my mind I can not expect the same results over the year.

    • Congratulations on trading a breakout strategy. Those can work well on the S&P. I agree that expectations vs reality are different. That’s one reason trading is so difficult. Your mind often lies to you!

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