There was one of those infographics on Facebook a while back. It said, “Winter Solstice: get naked, drink mead and party like a Pagan, because a Christmas spent queuing at Argos is just rubbish.”
Well it used a different word than “rubbish”, but you get the idea.
Since when did Christmas become a marketing tool for the corporations? All those bland adverts selling us ready made luxuries for the Christmas table.
It’s depressing, it truly is.
When I was growing up my Nan made the Christmas pud. She put a silver sixpence into the bowl and we took it in turns to stir the mix. Whoever found the sixpence on Christmas Day would have good luck in the coming year. That’s what Christmas is really all about: these peculiar traditions which we would revive every year.
Like going out on a winter’s morning to gather the holly.
Like kissing under the mistletoe. Like the yule log burning in the grate and the star on top of the Christmas tree.
All of these traditions have roots going back through the centuries, to the very dawn of history perhaps.
The Vikings celebrated Christmas, as did the Romans, as did the people who built Stonehenge.
They called it by different names and it took place on slightly different dates, on or around the solstice, but it was still clearly the Christmas we know today.
It was a time of feasting, gift-giving and partying, said to be a return to a mythical golden age when Saturn ruled the Earth.
That’s what gives Christmas its special magic: this sense of something deeply-rooted in history which we are bringing to life again for the coming year. It is anything but bland.
TV might have replaced the Yule Log as the thing to watch, and alcopops the wassail as the thing to drink, but the spirit of Old Christmas lives on.
And wherever people gather around the table and raise a toast to peace and goodwill to all men, there the real meaning of Christmas is found.