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Seasonal Reflections: December
THE SEASONS: December Reflections originally written in 2010 (Continued)
There is another aspect of December that we haven’t touched on and it is to do with three forms of entertainment. The first one is the annual Pantomime. Is it a coincidence (it probably is) that the Pantomime Season seems to start on the night of the shortest day - the 21st December. When it is cold and dark, what better way to lift your spirits that join the crowds (so often they are virtually booked out by mid-December) and join in the “Oh yes you are - Oh no we’re not” traditional chant or join in the shouts of “Look behind you”. With tickets of upwards of £22, it’s not a cheap afternoon out for the family, but one that creates memories that will be talked about for many a month to come. A fun website - http://www.bizzikid.co.uk - declares, “Pantomimes are usually based on popular fairy tales or folk legends and we all have a favourite. But whether it’s Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Aladdin or Dick Whittington, you’re guaranteed loads of laughs and stacks of songs. Traditionally, Pantomimes started on Boxing Day, but now they usually start before Christmas - so you can enjoy them for longer!
Come on let’s have some good old fashioned peace and good will and and a serving for the fifteenth time of Miracle on whatever street it was. Have a good Christmas anyway. Here’s a thought: turn off the TV, decide not to cook a Christmas dinner, and go and serve in a Christmas soup kitchen somewhere. It was just an idea!
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It continues, “in the 16th and 17th century, there was a type of theatre in Italy called Commedia dell’Arte. This was a funny play that was improvised, which means that bits of it were made up by the actors. In 1697 a French writer called Charles Perrault wrote his own version of some old folk tales and these were put into a book called Mother Goose Fairy Tales. The stories included Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots. You‘ve probably heard of these before because they are all very popular Pantomimes. So you see, these stories have been performed for hundreds of years, yet the audience never get tired of them.
Wikipedia has a much longer explanation so we’ll leave you to check that out on your own. It also has a list of some ten Panto traditions which makes for fun reading and which will stir the memories of those of us who make this an annual pilgrimage. In our experience taking at least two children between the ages of say six and thirteen is best - this seems the best age group for children to really enter in with the experience and help you, the adult, also catch the flavour.
The other tradition that now seems to come with Christmas is that of TV Films. For a little entertainment, and because I had a few minutes spare I flicked through a TV paper and observed the number of films on between (and including) Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. This year (2012) on the terrestrial channels (BBC, ITV, BBC2, Channels 4 & 5) there are in that period 149 films according to their film preview pages, which is an average of 16 per day (peaks on Boxing Day with 22). Add on the Freeview Channels (on which there is some doubling up, and ignore Film 4 which is films all day every day, and ignore Sky - so we just cover that which available to us peasants without Sky dishes) during that period there appear to be 200 films available which is an average of 22 per day. Add them all together and that is a provision of 349 films (which does include a little doubling up).
Well there you are; you could completely shut the world out for that period and glue yourself to the screen - and that’s ignoring all the other Christmas fare which, yes, does include some Morecambe & Wise and some Two Ronnies. Another feature of this time of the year, just before Christmas, is that current series’ of games shows,competitions and dramas come to their Finals or climax in the week before Christmas, and if the popular series hasn’t been on for a while, then there will be a special Christmas edition to tempt you. And yes, “The Queen” will appear for what tends to be only ten minutes these days, but on both BBC and ITV at the same time! So what films will you be seeing for the third or fourth time this Christmas. If one day machines are invented to put us into suspended animation, we can achieve the same effect as I guess we achieve with TV films.
While we’re on Christmas traditions, we must give a mention to Nativity Plays, either at school or in a church. Increasingly, we note, these come in a wide variation of story lines, but mostly they do still manage to end up in the manger in Bethlehem. I like traditions so don’t get me on to the subject of ‘Winterval’! Miserable people!
So here we are in the season of peace and good will to all men - unless you watch Soaps which are notorious from having terrible things happening over this period. Having overcome the temptation to say anything about ‘Winterval’ we shall also go silent on the morbid crises that so many of us seem to feed on at his time of year in our favourite soap.