Monday, 22 December 2008

O! Come All Ye Faithful (Walkers)!

In the best seasonal Dickensian tradition… never let it be said that David over at is a man who cannot keep Christmas in his heart. Between slugs of mulled wine and bites of Mary's delicious homemade mince pies, he treats us to this…

“Gladys Pendlebury from Happy, Texas writes: ‘Question for you. I understand why you'd have a Dickens walk on Christmas day. But what's the reason for the other one - the Christmas Morning, 1660 one? Is there a reason for that year - or is it just arbitrary?’

Well, first of all, Happy Christmas to you in Happy, Texas, Gladys. Happily, I've got some glad tidings for you. It's not arbitrary in the least. As is well known, 1660 was the year of the Restoration. But it wasn't just the monarchy that was "restored" in that year. What's not so well known is that Christmas was banned between 1652 and 1660. The Ebeneezer Scrooge of that era was none other than the Protector himself, Oliver Cromwell. He certainly didn't protect Christmas. He shot it down and shut it down. Hard to believe isn't it - no Christmas in England for eight years! Talk about doing hard time. Cromwell and Co. put the boot in because, according to them, Christmas was a farrago of pagan traditions and popish nonsense. And as such it had to be extirpated. And so it was.

But, happily, that all changed in 1660. Cromwell was kaput. Royalty - in the person of Charles II - was rip roaringly replevined, not to say rampant. Puritanism was purged. And part and parcel of all that was we got Christmas back. So had you been there that morning, it would have been, yes, Gladys, there is a Christmas!

Must have been pretty special, wouldn't you say? And what's neat is that - well, you weren't there, but you can be there! This time round, I mean. All you have to do is meet Ed or Richard III by the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square at 11 am on Christmas Day and go on the Christmas Morning, 1660 - Samuel Pepys' London walk. A Christmas Restoration walk in every sense of the word!

And that's not to forget - let alone take anything away from - the Charles Dickens Christmas Day Walk. Which goes at 2 pm on Christmas Day. Same meeting point. If you do pitch up, well be sure to introduce yourself. And if you're in Happy...well, Happy Christmas. Happiness spreads.”

COMING SOON… a fiendish quiz!


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