Saturday 24 December 2011


Christmas is a lot about tradition. Tradition, however, that changes as you go through life.

When I was a kid Christmas started in church. There were the four advent candles lit every Sunday until Christmas; but more exciting the Christingle service. 

A Christingle is an orange (which represents the world) with a candle in the top (which represents Jesus as the light of the world). A red ribbon is tied around the orange (representing the blood of Jesus) and then cocktail sticks are stuck into the ribbon (holding it in place!) on these are stuck dried fruits representing the bounty of the earth and the four seasons. All the kids would bring their Christingles to church and then at the appointed moment in the service bring them forward where they would all be lit with light from the advent candle. The fun was making them - oh, the smell of orange!

I grew up in a village. Quite a village-y sort of village - we had a village square with a short lane that lead to the church. On Christmas Eve there would be carols in the square (with a local silver band) sung by lamplight/candlelight/torchlight. After this we'd go home and carry out other Christmas traditions - putting out the whisky and mince pie for Santa, not forgetting a bucket of water and carrots for the reindeer! It was then off to bed for a few hours to get up again for midnight mass. After midnight mass it was back to bed - not for very long of course, up at the crack of dawn for family presents. At this point my parents would start lunch preparations for the large amount of relatives who would later be at our house. I'd be off to church (again) for Christmas day service. It wasn't that I was an unusually religious youngster - I was a chorister and attendance at festive services was pretty much compulsory!

Christmas at our house was always quite a party. My family, whilst not unusually large, are very close - so there was always a minimum of a dozen people present, often more. Lots of food, flaming Christmas pudding (made by my Gran), present distribution (silly gifts in a crepe covered chimney distributed by me or my brother dressed as Santa - a red dressing gown and a cardigan as a beard!), silly games, the Queen's speech.

Now the Better-half and I have our own Christmas traditions. Every year we must buy new decorations to add to our growing collection. Christmas day starts with scrambled egg at the crack of dawn (sometimes before, more usually after, presents). Soccer AM's Christmas Special and Soccer Saturday's Christmas Special are required watching. As two people don't need a whole turkey Christmas dinner doesn't take hours to make (although it still manages hours of washing up!). There are games to be played (and lost by me), crackers to be pulled, and quite a lot of naps to be fitted in.

Christmas is a time of family, fun and laughter - and a lot of sparkly lights!