There are several positions with early December deadlines. Do search committees typically contact candidates for phone/skype interviews in mid/late December? Or does this process tend to get pushed until after the holiday?
unhelpfully but truthfully - yes and yes.
it depends on how the institution works over mid/late dec. some places shutdown completely for the last week of Dec so search business might wait until early January. some places you'll have people who push through even while everything is shutdown. and other places stay open and business as usual for the most part. it's hard to know!
I concur with Jobseeker6500's response. That said, having been on the job cycle more than once and on search committees, I've seen more cases where there's a lull in academic hiring communications from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than not.
I agree with the "yes and yes" response. In my experience, some places are peeved they have a December deadline, as they'd like to have gotten things moving faster. So they're reviewing applications as they come in and have a committee meeting scheduled for one day after the deadline (or even the day OF the deadline, which means you're basically SOL if you try to apply on that day.) Then the phone interviews can be squeezed in before classes. Or if there are no phone interviews, at least the candidates can be invited to campus and arrangements made during December, so the interviews can all occur in the first weeks of the semester.
At my current institution, the previous two searches had a December 1 or December 15 deadline, and the candidates were all invited sometime in December (the committees managed to meet before the semester was over, even if that meant meeting during finals period immediately after the application deadline.) The interviews happened in January and the offers settled by early February. Basically, our chair was mad that the position was not finalized by the school sooner, or else we would have had more breathing room to move quickly on these searches.
However, lots of other places will not be so organized/crazy and will give it some time. The committee might not meet until January, with interviews happening in February.