When is Christmas?
There was a pertinent article in the paper on 29 December. This was just when most people were looking forward to New Year's Eve, then spending New Year's Day recovering from the festivities: taking the Christmas Decorations down and moving on to the business of 2015.
However, Melanie McDonagh's column that day in The Daily Telegraph suggests otherwise, here's a flavour of her article:
Rejoice, Christmas has only just begun
Our festive season peaks far too early, leaving us with a long gloomy period ahead
On the fifth day of Christmas (29 December) it may be pushing it a bit to say that the festivities really don't last long enough. Quite a few family cooks may feel that they've done their bit already, and then some. But for many Britons, the Christmas spirit only lasts until the end of Boxing Day, even though this year the country won't fully get back into working gear until January 5.
That's when we get all those guides in the papers about 'New Year, New You' and the shops go into Spartan mode, with a chilling emphasis on diet and exercise products.
We are only approaching the middle of the Christmas season, properly considered. Because the real feast, the Christmas one, begins on Christmas Eve and goes on for 12 days - as in the carol - right through until the Epiphany, on January 6.
We shouldn't even be considering putting away the fairy lights.
Christmas should only be getting properly under way now, in a crescendo of festivity until Twelfth Night, when the Three kings come to baby Jesus.
Certainly, that's how Christmas used to be done. December through to Christmas Eve is Advent, or a time for preparing for the feast, which means that then we're keen to have 12 days of fun. Today you should be winding up, not winding down. Twelfth Night should be when the party season reaches its climax, not when we pack away the decorations.
The problem is that the secular calendar as this time of year is pretty well the opposite of the traditional way of doing things. The office party season started at the beginning of December (or even earlier) and extends well into the New Year (we even have two 'socials' at the end of January).
The Christmas sales begin with so-called 'black Friday' (the day after Thanksgiving - an American import which we don't want, thank you!) - and so by the time we get to Christmas itself, we're partied out and up for abstinence.
It has a lot to do with the commercialisation of the season; obviously getting people into the party mood early is a great strategy for retailers (last year I saw Christmas cards on sale on 29 July!)
to be continued ... (perhaps by next Christmas, ha ha)