We are speeding towards 25 December, being sucked inexorably into the black hole of Christmas – that infinite mass of festivity and self-indulgence that you can only escape from if you are equipped with the Scrooge-on factor.
Usually I like to push back any feeling of festive excitement until as late as possible, but I have failed this year, not helped by the cold weather in late November and early December that made it seem that Christmas was here already. At work we have sent out the Xmas issue of the weekly online staff newsletter already and the Xmas party has been and gone. Christmas Day falling on a Saturday has pushed things earlier than normal and next week will tumble into Christmas at the end of the week with no chance to catch breath. I am doubly confused because I have just started a two-week stint of jury service, so I have already had my last day of work before Christmas.
I think my feelings of confusion were not helped by Dr Who warping my Christmas timelines. A couple of months ago I helped record some of the music for the Xmas episode of Dr Who and this must have caused some temporal entanglement.
Different countries vary in how they mark Christmas. I spent one Christmas in the Philippines and it is a very big celebration there with a big build up (Christmas trees can go up as early as September) that makes the UK’s seem feeble in comparison. I have noticed though that the UK build-up to the celebration has become a little more diverse in recent years.
Three years ago i visited Manchester in December and was enchanted by their Christmas market in the main square, full of gluhwein, Weissbier and grilled sausages, plus lots of little wooden huts selling gifts. Last week I looked in at Winter Wonderland, in London’s Hyde Park. As well as a big fairground it had various allegedly German-themed entertainments, plus gluhwein, Weissbier and grilled sausages, plus lots of little wooden huts selling gifts. In my corner of London, East Finchley, last month we had a small visiting French market that offered grilled sausages, vin chaud(!) and a few stalls selling gifts. Three weeks ago, in an effort to get still more diversity into my Christmas build-up, I visited Brussells, attracted by the promise of a big Christmas market. Imagine my delight to discover so many stalls selling gluhwein, Weissbier and grilled sausages plus many little huts selling gifts.
It’s great that we have so much diversity now, I see adverts for Birmingham’s “Frankfurt Christmas market”. I was tempted to make a trip to visit it but I have a strange premonition about what I will find there…