Firstly, I must declare an interest. I’m with Dr Sheldon Cooper in being no great fan of the festival of Saturnalia. The over-commercialisation of the season has made it lose it’s appeal and meaning to many. I can see it’s potential, but the traditional family Christmas hasn’t been big on my radar for some years.
A particular dread in relation to season Saturnalia is the fact that it seems to be moving rapidly to a rolling celebration. As a child, I remember Christmas started with Advent – around 1st December, maybe late November if you were really unfortunate. Then through the 80’s and 90’s we gradually moved backwards starting in late November, then the middle of the month and increasingly in early November.
Today, despite the fact that I know products were launched by many supermarkets in September, I found myself in the seasonal goods isle and Christmas has definitely arrived. I would like to point out it’s yet to be Halloween so in my book it’s considerable too early for Christmas cakes, mince pies and Yule log.
Ironically, in the baked goods isle I’m still able to buy a range of Hot Cross Buns – but that’s another story. I couldn’t help but notice that the best buy/use buy date on many of the seasonal goods on offer expire at least 3 weeks before Christmas itself. Perhaps that could be a rule of thumb supermarkets could introduce to kerb their natural retail tendencies.
So now the battle to avoid the tinsel, canned carols and musak will escalate until a point (usually around 16th December) when I simply don’t want to go out of the house. Thankfully this year, I will be in Australia for the Saturnalia celebration. Whilst I’m certain it has reached Melbourne and Sydney, it will be so different to the UK that I almost felt I was getting a year off (until the supermarket incident).
To confirm my prejudice, Harrod’s Christmas Grotto has been forced to advertise that it is already closed before it even opens on 7th November. Entry to the high-class yule-fest is by ticket only (nothing so common as a queue in Harrods) and these are already sold out a few days after going on sale. So it appears you now have to plan for the Harrods Christmas Grotto visit at roughly the same time Wimbledon fortnight ends in June.
Around the country hooks and holders are already being put in place just waiting for lights to be strung from them as soon as the evenings have the decency to get dark at some reasonable hour to allow better retail sales.
Four employment agencies have already published urgent calls for Father Christmas candidates at shopping centres and grottos. It’s ironic (at least to me) that they are being employed before we’ve even got Halloween out of the way .. just morally wrong!
One exception to the bland preparations for the festivities is the sculpture recently erected in Paris. Apparently this green objet d’art is allegedly supposed to be a Christmas tree. However, according to those who should know it appears to be an oversized butt plug. Now who say’s the spirit of Christmas is dead ?