Christmas Jumper Day
Thank goodness for Christmas Jumper Day making bad taste cool and raising ton of money for charity at the same time. This year it’s on 12th December, so start scouring the shops now. When it comes to Christmas jumpers, more is more – if it’s got tinsel, glitter, jingly bells and flashy lights it’s a winner. We like the ones that turn the wearer into a plump Christmas pudding and come with a holly hat.
The X Factor number one
Remember the days when Christmas number ones were sung by jolly, wholesome people in nice jumpers, and generally contained references to mistletoe, snow, and what people wanted for Christmas? These days it’s more likely to be some warbling and underdressed reality star covering a song you used to like, but now realise is tosh.
Raging against the X Factor number one
Not everyone accepts the reign of Simon Cowell’s disciples without protest, and over the last few years it has become standard for there to be at least one anti-X Factor single in the mix. The most successful was in 2009, when an online campaign resulted in Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name Of gaining the top spot come Christmas Day. How delightfully festive.
The John Lewis Christmas ad
The crack team behind the John Lewis Christmas advert have come up with the perfect formula for festive advertising – seasonal, romantic, cinematic, and with just the right amount of nostalgia (ie loads and loads and loads).
Instagramming your turkey
A more acceptable form of Christmas bragging than instagramming your presents. Even better if you’ve gone for a multi-bird roast such as a turducken (a chicken in a duck in a turkey) or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s 10-bird roast. Make sure to mention whichever celeb chef’s recipe you’ve followed in the caption. #teamnigella
Shock revelations! Bitter recollections. Old scandals reworked and dressed up as news. That’s right, it’s celebrity autobiography season again.
Some say Christmas begins on 1st December, but for many it’s the appearance of the many festive flavoured coffees – egg nog, gingerbread and cinnamon by the bucketful.
Bedazzling your sprouts
Here at Living North, we like sprouts. But in recent years it’s become fashionable to jazz up these flavoursome mini-cabbages with all sorts of extras – garlic, breadcrumbs, bacon, anything to disguise their true sprouty flavour. We don’t approve, but it seems like a trend that’s here to stay.
All children wonder how Santa manages to deliver presents to every child in every town in every country in the world in a single night. When we were young, the answer to this question was always ‘magic’ and that was that. These days kids can track the big man’s journey on their parents’ smart phones and go to bed confident that he’s on schedule to make it to their house before morning.
Long distance shopping
It’s become expected: jump on a plane and finish off that essential shopping, ideally in New York, but a weekend in London or a trip to a market in Germany will do, picking up bargains, before realising you’ve spent more on your ticket than you’ve saved, and there’s no room in your suitcase for all the presents you’ve bought. Ho ho ho.
The Giving of the Jamie Oliver book
And thus it came to pass that once a year Saint Jamie would deliver his teachings unto us, not with the cynicism of someone who has identified a reliable annual money spinner but with the altruism of a man who just wants us to care about food. Once we had leftover turkey sandwiches in the days after Christmas; now we have turkey and kimchee bibimbap with lime and coriander salad and a mango pudding, all made in nine minutes (Jamie time) or three hours (real time).
Being disappointed by the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Did you know that the Christmas Special of Doctor Who has over twice the ratings of an average episode? This means that the writers are annually set the task of making an episode that is both appealing to fans, enchanting for kids and coherent enough for people who never watch the show (and have been hitting the Baileys since 10am) to understand. This might explain why it is always an unadulterated botch-up.
Festive film fests
There have been Christmas films for as long as there have been films at all, and it’s now fairly common for people to gather together at their local independent cinema, tinselled to the eyeballs, to view some of their favourites. Who wouldn’t want an excuse, as a fully grown adult, to sit in a dark, cosy room full of like-minded people and watch the muppets for two hours? It’s a wonderful life.
A cold swim
The Boxing Day Dip has become an established North East tradition. Every year sees hundreds of people stripping off on beaches up and down the coast, including Redcar, Seaburn, South Shields and Whitley Bay, and plunging into the icy waters of the North Sea. Quite what motivates people to take part is unclear, but it might be that they manage to raise loads of money for charity and get their picture in the paper.
Ice Skating at the Centre for Life
We’re not blessed with too many ice rinks up here, and this means that when the inviting expanse of ice arrives in Newcastle’s Times Square every year it’s an exciting opportunity for us all to throw away our dignity, lace up our boots and wobble our way round the perimeter, hanging on to the barrier for dear life.
A Walk in the Park After Dark
So hotly anticipated you’d think it was Christmas Eve, Enchanted Parks is an after-dark adventure where Saltwell Park in Gateshead is brought to life with magic, fantasy and bucketloads of fairy lights. It’s a great excuse to tire out young children as they ooh and ahh at all the light illuminations, visual art and performances. You’d think you were buying tickets for One Direction’s only concert with how quickly they sell out, so if you manage to get your hands on a golden ticket — well done.
Elsa, Anna and Olaf Are Back
Since the release of Frozen last year, children (and secretly parents too) have been longing for winter to come back around for an excuse to watch the film again and belt out Let It Go at the top of their lungs. Several venues across the North East are hosting festive events for this very reason. Enjoy a Frozen sing-a-long at Customs House, South Tyneside on Sunday 7th December.
OUT WITH THE OLD
Things we used to love doing are no longer so popular
- Christmas caroling as a family. Imagine telling the kids to abandon their boxsets, wrap up warm and trudge from door to door serenading strangers with out-of-tune renditions of Silent Night? We have a feeling we know what the answer would be.
- Sending cards to everyone we’ve ever met. Now they’re reserved for immediate family and close friends (not including the hurried last-minute ones you write when you realise in a blind panic that someone from work has sent you one).
- Using Santa’s formal name. Admit it – you just call him Santa, or, at a stretch, Santa Claus. Who is Father Christmas?
- Old-fashioned parlour games. You’re more likely to find us arguing over Trivial Pursuit than playing a civilised game of euchre.
- Giving genuinely nice and useful gifts. If the last office Secret Santa is anything to go by, it’s better to give ‘grow your own girlfriend’ kits or rude mugs, than a nice mug or lovely scarf.