Campaign for Real Christmas


I feel that we are in danger of losing touch with our heritage. When children are more interested in the Internet than in history; when the reading of books is quaintly eccentric; and when we cannot decide whether we want to be the 51st state of America or a minor player in the European Union, it is hardly surprising that no-one pays very much attention to English traditions any more.

Yet, as the Queen so cogently reminded us, there is no contradiction between modernity and a respect for our birthright. To this end, I wish to inaugurate a Campaign For Real Christmas. The objectives of this campaign are modest: I wish to encourage people to celebrate Christmas in the traditional, time-honoured English fashion, and to avoid, in so far as it may be practicable or reasonable, the modern and foreign contamination which have watered down and vulgarised this happy day.

Members of the Campaign agree to the following particulars:

1: We regard Christmas as starting at midnight on Christmas Eve and finishing on Twelfth Night, which is the climax of the celebrations. The celebration of December 31st is even worse than foreign, that is to say, Scottish.

2: We do not send Christmas cards, which are a late invention by Prince Albert, a German.

3: We do not put up Christmas trees, which are recent tradition, originally Norwegian, and also introduced into this country by fun loving Prince Albert. Similarly, we do not use sprigs of mistletoe. Miseltoe gets its significance from the Norse myth of the death of Balder. The tradition was left in this country by the invading Vikings. Hanging the stuff up is an insult to the memory of Alfred the Great. Good old English Holly is permissible to members who absolutely insist on filling their houses with messy foliage.

4: We regard the big fat jolly fellow who comes down the chimney as very suspect, since he lives in Lapland, owes his origins to St Nicholas and was popularised in Holland. (We associate him with stockings only because relatively few English children wear clogs.) However, we are prepared to allow our members to remove the double lock from their chimneys on the following conditions

a: He is addressed only as Father Christmas, never by the disgusting Americanism "Santa Claus."

b: He wears practical brown coloured robes, and absolutely not the livery of the Coca-Cola company.

c: He brings sensible presents like fruit, nuts, humbugs and small clockwork toy soldiers

d: As well as bringing sweets and toys for good children he should, in deference to English tradition, bring a birch rod for naughty ones.

Anyone caught singing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" is boiled in pudding and buried with a sprig of holly through their heart.

5: For Christmas dinner, we abstain from turkey, which is a New World bird more properly eaten by colonials at their so-called "Thanksgiving." Instead, we eat good English goose, duck, or, preferably, roast boar and venison.

6: We do not eat modern steamed Christmas puddings made of raisons but traditional English pudding made of plums. (As in "he put in his thumb and pulled out a".) Similarly, Mince Pies are made of meat, not fruit, and should be oval, rather than round.

7: We regard crackers are French, and do not even dare to mention the word Cristingle.

8: After Christmas dinner, we are permitted to sing Christmas carols around the burning log fire, and even to give (pre-decimal) pennies or, indeed, figgy pudding to any melodious urchins who come to our door.

We are prepared to stretch a point around the precise musical definition of a carol, provided we limit ourselves to songs of a traditional and English kind. "God rest ye, merry gentlemen", "The Holly and the Ivy" and "The First Noel" suit us very well. "Ding dong merrily on high" is quintessentially English, being old, interminable and completely meaningless. "Away in a Manger", "O, Little Town" and "Once in Royal" are hardly a hundred years old and unsuitable to a traditional English celebration. "Silent Night" is, as everyone knows, German, and "O Come All Ye Faithful" is Roman, for goodness sake. "Mary's Boy Child" and "The Calypso Carol" show signs of having been written in the West Indies. Worst of all are things like "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas", which are written by people who manage to be both American and Jewish at the same time!

8: On this note, we also feel that the tradition of lighting candles—one on the fourth week before Christmas, two on the second week, and so on—seems dangerously close to the decidedly non-English Hanukah.

9: Finally: it has been observed that some members stick up pictures and statuettes of an obviously middle-eastern family. We don't know why they do it, but would they stop, please.