Sometimes on this blog I am, shall we say, somewhat critical of old Blighty, the UK, the sceptered isle, the last remaining truly regal monarchy, the damp land, the old country, that green and pleasant land. England.
Allow me on this eve of Christmas Eve to say that England tops USA for Christmas. Hands down. No debate. No question. Not even a possibility of a question. Here’s why:
1. English radio stations do not play nauseating Christmas music like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer chestnuts roasting by the open fire jack frost nipping at your nose city sidewalks etc. etc. from the middle of November non stop for weeks.
2. English churches have Advent Carol services and good music. With decent choirs.
3. Bells ring from church towers mysterious high and free
4. Thanksgiving at the end of November has not knocked the edge off the festive season
5. Turning on the lights at Oxford Street
6. Hamley’s toy store in London
7. Once in Royal David’s City to begin the Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings.
8. Father Christmas is far more low key and sensible than the larger than life fat elf called Santa Claus who is promoted by the Coca Cola company.
9. People still go house to house Christmas carolling. Really. They do.
10. School nativity plays feature Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Really. They do.
11. The Christmas pantomime. “Look behind you!”
12. Christmas TV – do they still run the Two Ronnies and Sound of Music?
13. Sherry and mince pies–even if they are dry and stick in your throat.
14. Holly and ivy in the village church
15. The Christmas Cracker
16. The Queen’s Speech
17. Christmas cake. Dark fruit cake with a layer of marzipan topped with hard icing and miniature fir trees and houses and so forth on the top and a red ribbon around it. Honest.
18. Smelly Stilton Cheese and port after Christmas lunch–with those bland ‘water biscuits’.
19. Christmas pudding–yes with a sprig of holly and set alight with brandy
20. Far less commercialism and tacky ‘Christmas Spirit’
21. Women don’t wear Christmas sweaters with embroidered snowmen
22. Brussels Sprouts
23. Wearing paper crowns from the Christmas cracker
24. Bad jokes from the Christmas cracker – “Q: What is green and goes up and down? A: A gooseberry in a lift.”
25. The parish Christmas bazaar – where you can get a hand knitted dolly to cover up your loo roll
26. Midnight Mass by candlelight in a medieval church.
27. Presents in a pillowcase
28. In the Bleak Mid Winter by Christina Rossetti
29. It really is the bleak mid winter
30. Christmas Cards with pictures of Jesus Mary and Joseph rather than the people who are sending you the card.