I was in Oxford Street in London last week. The Christmas street lights are already up and shops have special Christmas sections already open.
It is early October.
A couple of weeks ago, my TV went up the spout and I am thinking I might wait until the January sales to buy a new one. The January sales now start in mid or early December.
I blame Christians for this. They started it.
This mucking-around with dates.
I was saying to comic-and-now-author Paul Kerensa that I have never understood the Christian festivals. I know, obviously, that the reason Christmas and Easter were positioned where they are was to smother the pre-existing pagan end-of-year and Spring festivals. But what on earth were the early Christians thinking about?
The end of the year is all about endings and the death of the old.
Spring is all about re-birth and new starts.
So what’s with this ridiculous back-to-front symbolism of Jesus being born at the end of Nature’s annual life-cycle and dying in the Springtime?
It’s not as if it even makes any Biblical sense.
According to the Bible, Jesus was born in the Spring – the shepherds were tending their new-born lambs in the fields; and there is no hint of what time of year he was crucified.
So that would have been perfect. The lamb of God was born in the Spring with the real lambs at the symbolic re-birth of the natural annual cycle of life. And it would make perfect sense and have no Biblical complications to have him die at the same time as the death of the old year and the end of Nature’s annual life/death cycle.
So celebrate Jesus’ birth at Easter and his death at Christmas.
And you could still smother the pagan festivals.
What were they thinking of?
I was droning on about this to Paul Kerensa – who managed to retain a mask of interest – because he was having his book launch. He has just written Hark! The Biography of Christmas.
I think the Christmas book-buying season starts in October and runs to the middle of December. Obviously, people don’t actually buy books as Christmas presents AT Christmas. That would be silly.
Paul tells me that “the original print run has already completely sold out, and the book is on its 2nd reprint already” – It was published in September – so October is the perfect time to launch it.
For all that the British comedy club business is said to be in decline, the British appetite for comedy and comedians seems to continue unabated.
At the time of writing, Sarah Millican’s book How To Be Champion tops the Sunday Times bestseller list and all four top places are books written by comics – the others are Russell Brand’s Recovery, Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt and David Jason’s Only Fools and Stories.
Paul Kerensa’s new book is, as the title suggests – Hark! The Biography of Christmas – all about Yuletide facts and fictions – answers to all the festive questions you might ask and some you would never have thought to ask, like…
– Was St Nicholas the first to use an automatic door?
– Which classic Christmas crooners were inspired by a Hollywood heatwave?
– Did King Herod really have a wife called Doris?
Jeremy Vine says: “I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about Christmas until I read this brilliant book”.
Me too. And Paul was able to set my mind at rest. He told me it is unlikely I will get arrested for celebrating Christmas.
When I last heard, there was still a Cromwellian law on the statute books banning the celebration of Christmas.
Although he was less reassuring about the legality of eating mince pies.
And, as if hedging his bets, half the mince pies supplied for the book launch were actually apple pies.
DJ/presenter Chris Evans says Paul is: “A brilliant writer, fantastic communicator, deep thinker and extremely decent bloke”. I agree.
And, with plugs on the back cover from Miranda Hart and Noddy Holder of Slade, no wonder the book was on its 2nd reprint before it was launched.