Although we may be buried under a mountain of essays, dreading the thought of exams and dying from a medley of diseases, the debacle of the end of term does signal one good thing; Christmas is coming! In honour of this, we have devoted this issue to winter festivities, from the religious, to the pagan, to the downright commercial.
Our writers have researched wintry revelry from all over the world; nonetheless, our features this issue begin with a nod to the truly British Christmas. What do Christmas trees, cards and crackers all have in common? Have a look at our article about the queen of Christmas to find out. We’ve thoroughly investigated the noble ritual of eating ourselves comatose on Christmas day, so this year feel free to help yourselves to that second portion. It’s research, right? Whether you turn the lights out to avoid them or wander your neighbourhood singing carols yourself.
We haven’t forgotten the other thirty days of December though. Though many of your friends will have recently celebrated other winter traditions, your knowledge of these may be scratchy at best. The story of Chanukah, an exploration of paganism and the strange tale of winter fasting should enlighten us all to the fascinating history of frosty festivities.
Once again, the commercialisation of Christmas has been deplored for months, thanks in no small way to Selfridges installing a Christmas department in August. We have studied the demise of Christmas, with an exposé into its gradual descent to degenerate marketable commodity. To counteract this gloom, you will find that this is a bumper picture edition of the Historian, with one page devoted to Christmas shop displays and another to Christmas lights.
One of the legends of the modern Christmas is one we all know too well; that Coca Cola turned Santa Claus/Father Christmas from green to red. While this is not strictly true, our undiscovered hero for this month is the man who changed the perception of Father Christmas from skinny moral judge to big, bouncing and jolly – meet Haddon Sundblom.
Do not despair though – we haven’t forgotten our regular features. We’ve gone behind a myriad of headlines this month, investigating everything from the connection between drugs and diplomacy to the mythical road tax. Our year in pictures is 1943; I urge you to take a look, as many of the events of that year are surprisingly unfamiliar to us. We’re still earnestly plugging the gaps in your historical knowledge, so if the partition of India or the Mongol Empire represent pastures unknown for you, our History You Should Know will be a great read this month.
Finally, we’ve gone all cultural for a moment, with a review of everything from Tedx Salford to a Christian Dior exhibition to fifty glorious years of Doctor Who.
We’d like to thank all those who took time out from the madness of the final few weeks of this term to contribute to this issue. Special thanks must go to our layout team, who, like Christmas elves, worked tirelessly around their deadlines to produce this issue.
Enjoy and we wish you a very merry Christmas,
Alice and Charlotte