Christmas tales 2007: our favourite writers rant, reflect and reminisce

The festering season, by Mark Simpson

For weeks we've been exhorting you to spend, spend, spend, but now that the presents have (with any luck) been bought and the preparations are complete, it's time to ponder the deeper meaning of Christmas. We asked our favourite writers to rant, reflect or reminisce on a festive theme. As Ronald Hutton explains, the last thing you should feel at this time of year is guilty, so sit down with a mince pie and enjoy

You know that queasy, hungover, fed-up-to-the-gills feeling of not knowing what day of the week it is or what year? Wondering whether the banks will be open or not and whether you can be bothered to brave the freezing crowds and the thronging fog and exchange those fluffy Bhs slippers you were given by your niece for something more fetching? That sense of quietly increasing secret dread at the imminent approach of another bout of slightly hysterical binge-drinking and smiling at people you'd much rather spit in the eye?

Yes, the festering season is nearly upon us that fag-end, cold-turkey, limbo-time between Christmas and New Year that cruelly drags out the whole experience, and the year, by another four days and feels like a fortnight of 1970s Sundays.

The sheer numbing tedium and disorientation of the festering season drives people to do crazy things like accepting invitations to visit friends and relatives you haven't seen for ages, only to remember, too late, that the reason it's been so long is that you don't actually like them. Even worse, some people find themselves spending time with their partners.

The festering season is clearly a major social problem that needs an urgent solution. Shockingly, the major political parties have yet to take this issue seriously I've checked and can confirm that neither the Conservative, Labour or Lib-Dem manifestos propose legislation to deal with the festering season.

Fortunately, the solution is as clear as the night Good King Wenceslas looked out. What's needed is a Christmas Anschluss: a union of Christmas and New Year. For far too long, Christmas and New Year have been artificially divorced by that demoralising boundary period in between. Soaked in booze and regrets, festooned with goodwill and domestics, they obviously deserve one another. It's time to bring them together.

By moving New Year's Eve to Boxing Day (what is Boxing Day for, anyway?), we can eliminate that date-nibbling, walnut-cracking period spent wondering whether to treat ourselves to another sweet sherry or not. We can all get completely rat-arsed on Christmas Eve and not sober up until New Year's Day. One moment you're putting out milk and mince-pies for Santa, the next you're waking up on someone's sofa with an end-of-the-world hangover, your pants around your head, smelling of candied fruit and vomit. Hello, 2008!

Alternatively and this happens to be my personal preference New Year could be run parallel with Christmas. Not only does this shorten the whole experience down to a more humane and liver-sparing two days, it gives you the perfect get-out to spare the feelings of those who you don't want to spend either event with, as well as providing those people who just don't like either Christmas or New Year or both the opportunity to opt out completely.

"Oh, sorry," you'd say, "I'd love to come to yours and gnaw my leg off with frustration this Christmas but unfortunately I can't I'm doing New Year this year."

Or, alternatively, "Oh, that's a shame, I'd adore to come out with you and the gang on New Year's Eve and shout 'HAPPY NEW YEAR!!' at strangers so aggressively that I manage to cover them in gob even though they're on the other side of the street, but I've already promised to do Christmas this time."

Mark Simpson is the author of 'Saint Morrissey' (SAF Publishing)

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine