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One of the things that I noticed about Britain is that Christmas is a very, very big deal here. I saw restaurants taking reservations for Christmas dinners when I walked around Lancaster shortly after Fresher’s Week in first year, trying to discover a bit better where I was going to spend the next three years. I remember thinking that surely nobody would already be thinking about such a faraway date, since where I am from, Christmas lights were probably displayed just a mere couple of days before Christmas…
Two years after, it still amazes me how just after announcing Pumpkin Spice specials in coffee shops at the end of October, festive adverts invade again every sort of media and products everywhere. Everyone agrees to some extent, that Christmas is strongly commercialised. It is a fact that is still brought in many conversations with the aim to bring people down from their cloud. It is almost become a fashion to complain about it and it is ironic when pretty much everything around us consist in advertising and consumerism on a daily basis.
I personally do not have a strong Christmas spirit, but I am certainly not against the idea of it. There are great things happening in this period, and the simple fact that people get a happy feeling about it and try to transmit it to others is nothing that we should be against. Regardless of religion and tradition, which I cannot relate to, I think it is a good excuse to gather with your family and friends and have a good time as even with the simplest of surroundings, it can be a great experience. I personally like to come back to Mallorca and break the University routine, even though I spent most of the time finishing essays and keeping up with work.
In any case, I always wondered whether the lighting, adverts and decorations in towns are living up to the actual celebrations at home. I spoke to one of my close friends who is much more aware of British culture than I am, and he confirmed that Christmas is spoken about like it is a huge deal, but it is more about the little things. For example, he had to work on Christmas day at a bar, and when work could sound like a tedious thing on a day like this, he told me that it was actually great to be there, seeing people he knew, sharing conversations with them and generally having an enjoyable day. In my case, I spent it with my close family, and walking in front of the sea after lunch. So no matter how much pressure there is about ‘how to celebrate’ Christmas, traditions vary in every circle of friends and family, and that is something that only changes as families change themselves. No matter what, it is still worth making a little effort to share and leave worries aside.
There is only one thing that I do not particularly like about Christmas. As funny as it may sound, all those Christmas songs that emerge out of nowhere every year are difficult for me to listen to without wanting to run away. It is nothing personal, I just cannot enjoy them, at least not as much as the majority around me. It is almost like a ritual, everyone singing along to that Mariah Carey song over and over again. I just sit there in the back wondering what is so good about it, really. But for as much as I feel like the Grinch in those situations, I do not think there is any reason to stop people enjoying it and celebrating the way they want to. I have just not reached that spirit yet, and it will probably take a long while until I understand it!
In any way, now that University is back, I can only bring myself to the same routine of lectures, seminars and library sessions, and being subject of the typical ‘had a good Christmas?’ conversations until the end of February. If nothing else, it’s an amazing ice-breaker.