by Ed West
Monday, 14
December 2020

Christmas cancelled? Some alternative festival ideas…

by Ed West
Marblers and Stonecutters search apprentices for beer bottles in a Shrove Tuesday custom. Credit: Getty

Who would have thought in 2020 that the British Government would shut down pubs, close the churches, ban casual sex and make everyone wear masks? And to think people used to laugh at JihadWatch.

This is one of the great gags I’ve got lined up for the in-laws over Christmas, which is unfortunately going ahead despite my suggestions that it be abandoned. Yes, I am using the coronavirus to avoid social engagements, which I’ve done all year and has been the only tangible benefit of the pandemic.

Of course, Christmas alone would be really depressing, but dying of respiratory failure is really depressing too and if people just wait a few weeks longer they can all see each other as normal again — and enjoy many more Christmases.

There’s something quite infantilising about the whole thing, a giant marshmallow test which Britain is failing, and it comes from the top. Presumably Boris doesn’t want to be the Grinch, and he also doesn’t want to get the police involved (quite reasonably, as that would be absurd). But how hard would it be for the Prime Minister to say: we’re not going to bust down your door on Christmas Day if you’re mixing but we strongly advise you don’t get together because there is a chance you might kill a family member.

A sensible government might instead institute a date next year as Victory Over Covid Day to celebrate the end of the disease, and as a replacement for Christmas. I think it’s a great idea, and I wonder if our failure to think beyond Christmas is a by-product of our empty calendar. There was once a time when the year was filled with feasts and get-togethers, but now Christmas is pretty much the only one.

In Ireland, for example, the 1st February was traditionally a big feast, marking the end of winter and the feast day of St Bridget marking the start of Spring, although like many feasts it had pagan origins.

Shrove Tuesday, in mid-February, would offer another chance of feasting and debauchery, and historically was much more raucous than it is now (with street fights quite common once, in the good olde days of Merrie England). Then of course comes Easter, which is more important as a Christian festival than Christmas; and although my children aren’t sold on that line, as I wasn’t at that age, the Government could have proposed an extra day or two national holidays around Easter 2021 to give families a chance to have a safe get-together.

Alternatively, and because I’m a crank, I would have designated St. John’s Day, the 24th June, as replacement for Christmas. Traditionally St John’s Eve was a night of dancing and bonfires, and that’s a return to tradition everyone could get behind.

But I guess we can’t wait that long. Everything has to be now, even if it ends up costing thousands of lives.

Join the discussion

  • December 24, 2020
    In a few weeks, the most vulnerable should have been vaccinated. A couple of months (over 60s vaccination), and the pandemic drops to the level of swine flu. Read more

  • December 24, 2020
    but we strongly advise you don’t get together because there is a chance you might kill a family member.
    A very, very low one in most cases though. Which people know of course, and so the people who go around claiming otherwise simply make themselves look foolish and... Read more

  • December 23, 2020
    Hahaha. Feels like it some days. Just saying it can spread very rapidly in a household even with self-isolating. I'm not trying to be controversial. Read more

To get involved in the discussion and stay up to date, become a registered user.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up