Today we kick off a series of blog posts for the festive season looking at how Christmas is celebrated around the world.
Disclaimer: The following account is based on my childhood Christmases growing up in the wilds of deepest darkest Lancashire in the seventies and eighties. It's all true, apart from the stuff I made up. Any resemblance to your own or anyone else's traditions is purely coincidental...
"Are you sitting comfortably?...."
(quick, grab yourself a cup of tea - its a long one. Do click on the videos to get the full British Christmas experience!)
"...then I'll begin"
In days of yore, before the Globalist Grinch and the Austerity Orcs stole Christmas (and carried out the most heinous crime of them all, turning Chocolate Oranges into Satsumas). Before Beer-Exit and the Evil, self-proclaimed May Queen, declared it would be "forever winter and never Christmas", the British Christmas was celebrated in the following manner:
The beginning of the festivities starts in late November with the arrival of the Glam Rockers. Their leader King Noddy screams at the top of his voice “Iiiiiiitttt's Chriiiiiisssstmaaaaas!”,
and Sir Elton invites us to “Step into Christmas”. Meanwhile, Roy the Wizzard (not to be confused with Harry Potter’s mate Ron) gets all the children in a frenzy by exhorting them to sing “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” over and over…
Good Ol’ Shaky cheers “Merry Christmas everyone” and Paul Fabbamaccawabbathumbsaloft McCartney gets the frogs out to sing “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” and Sir Frederick belts out “Thank God it’s Christmas”
But the joviality isn’t allowed to last for long, Glam Rock dissenters Mud wail back “It’ll be Lonely this Christmas” and set off cries of anguish from GeorgiePorgiePuddingandPieKissedtheGirl'sandMadethemCry, who laments “Last Christmas I gave you my heart and the very next day you gave it way”. Dame Chrissy adds “Two thousand miles is a very long way through the snow” and David of Essex tries to calm them down with the retort “On a worldwide scale we’re just another winter’s tale”.
The self pity is stopped though, as Jona Lewie’s genuine plea is heard from the trenches of WW1: “I have had enough, can you stop the Cavalry?”
As “the clanging chimes of doom” toll, swiftly to the rescue come the Saints John, Bob and MaryMungoandMidge, with their messages of “War is Over, if You Want It” and “Feed the World”.
The singing fest climaxes on Christmas Eve when Shane and Kirsty partake in the folk tradition of trading insults with each other:
“You scum bag, you maggot”.
For Children, however, Christmas starts much earlier, usually around September, with the arrival of the home edition of the Laminated Book of Dreams (copyright Bill Bailey). This revered book is poured over continually for months and is the child’s guide to everything they could possibly desire and designed to generate a Christmas wish list longer than War and Peace.
At the same time the Christmas Toy Adverts appear on TV. They play and important role in educating innocent children about the cynicism of the marketing industry, as they wake up on Christmas morning to have their hopes dashed, when they discover that have been lied to and that, in fact, Hot Wheels are actually rubbish.
By mid November" the Wolves are Running" and haste must be made for "time and tide and buttered eggs wait for no man".
Advent is upon us and must be religiously observed by watching The Making of The Blue Peter Advent Candle. It is rumoured some brave souls actually attempt to make replicas of this hallowed object, but they have never lived to tell the tale. Instead, watching each generation of the Blue Peter Presenters make a terrible mess of constructing it every year, before the “here’s one I made earlier” Biddy Baxter edition is produced is compulsory.
December also brings with it the much loved Infant Nativity Play. Here, four year olds re-tell the Christmas story. The girls wear nighties decorated in tinsel and the boys wear their pyjamas with tea towels on their heads held on with one of dad’s old ties.
Baby Jesus is traditionally played by Tiny Tears and usually dropped and his swaddling unravelled at least once during the performance. Little Donkey must be sung with great gusto and enthusiastic clip clop sound effects made out of time to the music by a child with two coconut halves. Away in a Manger is sung, but to lyrics that actually scan, unlike the American version (which quite frankly murders the poor song). So the stars are “in the bright sky” and “the baby awakes”.
The Nativity is followed by the School Christmas Fayre. These hallowed occasions are attended not only by reluctant parents, but also by determined pensioners who tour all the local schools and church halls within a 5 mile radius, as they are Wise and have worked out they can do all their Christmas shopping for under tenner this way.
A long, long time ago, before the Legendary Mr Kipling came to the UK,
preparations used to involve the laborious process of actually making shortcrust pastry. Although, no one can remember a time before the mysterious mince pie filling didn’t arrive in the shops in October curtesy of Mr Robertson and his jolly companion that we aren’t allowed to mention anymore.
These days the occasion is marked by the Great Mince Pies Bashing Ceremony, whereby middle class yummy mummies attempt to make Mr Waitrose’s perfection look artisanal and homemade and bring into school in a Cath Kidston cake tin to pass off as their own. Working class parents just bring them to school in the Lidl Box...
At the School Christmas Fayre, as well as having to buy back the mince pies you donated for less than you paid for them in the first place, you are also obliged to purchase the children’s lovely creations they have been busy making since September. If you are particularly unlucky you will have a very productive child and be forced to part with a significant amount of cash to bring it all home to decorate your recycling bin. If you are really lucky and your child goes to a terribly middle class school you can buy a “Mulled Wine Kit” which is usually a couple of cinnamon sticks and cloves in a paper bag, but usually a bargain compared to buying the ingredients in a real shop. You may also pick up a decent bottle of red wine on the Tombola, but this is like playing Russian Roulette as you could end up with that box of Chocolate Liqueurs which has appeared every year since 1973, but is deemed ok because it is from a time before 'Use By' Dates.