02 Dec RONIN’s Christmas Rituals
As soon as December begins (actually, probably since mid-November, if we’re honest!) we all start thinking about Christmas. From making lists of presents left to buy, to stocking up on chocolates and festive jumpers it’s a busy period, and it can all get a bit stressful. But on December 25th, all the hubub is worth it.
We asked the RONIN team to share their Christmas rituals:
Saskia, PR Account Executive
All my Christmas traditions revolve around food, booze, friends and family (not too strange for those who know me!). On Christmas Eve I watch Love Actually or one of the Muppet Christmas films with my Mum, then meet all my friends in the pub in the city I went to school, then scramble to get the last train home.
Christmas day starts with stockings – we’re still getting them (is this embarrassing?!). My older brother is 26 and he still gets one, so I have to, too! We used to get toys – now we get bottles of craft ale, chocolate, books and big socks! When we were little we’d wake up at 5am to open everything… Now we’re older (and, if you’re Kez, a bit hungover), we sleep in. Then it’s bucks fizz and a big breakfast, with the whole family still in PJs. We share out the presents, scope out the size of the piles (competitive sibling rituals never die) and then afterwards, get down to Christmas lunch. My Dad ALWAYS forgets the pigs in blankets, so we normally have about a hundred for dinner later, watching a Christmas film that my 93 year old Nana always talks over.
On the 27th, I have a second Christmas with all my friends; we each bring a dish (I’m always on potato and dessert duty), play Cranium, eat loads, drink some strange concoctions – whisky cinnamon cider anyone? – and extend the festive period for an extra day!
Christmas means family, friends and lots and lots of food! It’s been a long-held tradition that, on Christmas Eve, my brother and I receive a Christmas tale to read before bed; it’s usually something short and sweet, with beautiful illustrations- a true treat for a Lit grad like myself! But before I can snuggle under the duvet, I meet a group of old friends at the pub, reminiscing over times passed over a glass of mulled wine or a pint of ale. If I’ve got the time, I like to pop along to Midnight Mas; listening to the choir singing Christmas carols in the deep, dark night is magical.
Christmas morning begins at home, opening presents over breakfast with the BBC on in the background. I usually spend Christmas with family in the country, so after throwing on something sparkly, we take the drive into the sticks of rural Oxfordshire, where we ‘ll arrive just in time for a Christmas spread of culinary delights, with all the trimmings. Nevertheless, forks are laid down at 3pm, in order to listen to the Queen’s speech (after which, Christmas dinner resumes promptly). Post-dinner consists of more present opening in front of the fire, board games, Quality Street, an afternoon nap, and perhaps perusing old photo albums.
The stone in weight gained from the day before is walked off on Boxing Day morning with a languid amble through frosty fields, wrapped up warm with dogs in tow and turkey sandwiches in pockets. A few years ago, I spent the festive season in the sunnier climes of Goa, India with my whole family; we had an authentic curry for Christmas dinner, and spent the evening watching the sunset from the beautiful sands of Benaulim Beach. Nevertheless, as beautiful and luxurious as it was, I’m not sure that any other country can live up to the tradition and magical spirit of a truly British Christmas.
Waking up on Christmas morning to the sound of waves crashing against a golden beach… that’s the sound I like to tune into on Christmas day.
As I jump on the plane at Heathrow, I kiss goodbye to all the Christmas mayhem, television commercials, radio ads and screaming mothers frantically running around trying to buy things for everyone…
Unfortunately this doesn’t happen every year! (in fact, it doesn’t happen most years!) Instead, this year I’ll be hosting Christmas day at my house in Bromley. Christmas eve is very much a local pub affair, my partner and I will get to The Brick Layers Arms (our favourite local) early to get the best seat in the house and drink away the evening with (quite) a few good, real ales…
Christmas morning will be spent getting the house ready for the family and preparing for Christmas dinner, roast potatoes, veg and the infamous turkey. The gravy boat will make it’s yearly appearance before being packed away for the rest of the year.
As the rest of the afternoon will be spent in the ‘carb coma’ followed by Jenga and board games.
As a non-Christian Chinese (by the way, only 1% Chinese are Christian), do I celebrate Christmas?
Yes, because I’ve already been heavily influenced by people and culture here, but I celebrate Christmas in an East-meets-West way.
Christmas eve is a great chance to get together with my Chinese friends here, one of the East-meets-West activity is to eat ‘Christmas dinner’ in China Town, like ‘HOT-POT’. After dinner, we go to some exciting places like Oxford Street which are beautifully decorated and crowded with people.
I also went to Westminster Abbey to see Christmas eve choral performance at one time, queued up for 3 hours and walked home after that (I didn’t know there was no public transport after 12pm!). I enjoyed the performance very much and my conclusion for this is ‘it’s a must-see, but one time is enough for me!’
Christmas is also my great shopping time before Chinese New Year, I can get relaxed and enjoy lots of sales while all my family and friends in China are still working, haha, even thinking of this is really satisfying 🙂
Christmas Day is always at home. We still have stockings for our daughter (aged 21) and son (17), which Santa fills for them when they are asleep. Last year was the first time my son didn’t come bounding into our room at 4.00am to open his presents, which means we can now go downstairs at a sensible hour to see if Santa has also left anything under the tree. We all creep carefully into the lounge so as not to disturb him in case he is still there, and checking that he has eaten the mince pie we left for him – oh, and that Rudolph has scoffed the carrot. We take turns opening presents with lots of hugs and kisses, as well as whoops of surprise even though for the most part, we already know what we’ve got. I love all that and it’s as much for my benefit as theirs, to be honest.
Bucks Fizz, pink grapefruit and croissants for breakfast, accompanied by the Pogues and re-runs of old Christmas movies. Then my wife’s huge family descends and we have a booze-fuelled lunch for 24 people or more – traditional of course, with turkey and sprouts, Christmas pudding and brandy sauce. Boxing day is spent watching the mighty Charlton Athletic, if there is a game on, and then it’s off to splendid isolation in chilly rural France until New Years Eve as an antidote to all the family stuff – and to clear the head a little.
Christmas starts for me a few days before Christmas Day when we put up the tree whilst playing Christmas Carols. We always get the biggest, live tree that will fit in the room and part of the enjoyment is the family outing to the local farm to choose it. After Christmas Eve round at friends for curry and wine it’s a fairly early start on Christmas Day, it takes a big turkey to feed 20+ people so I need to get it in the oven. The family start to arrive at 3pm when we open the champagne and the party starts. It’s a big sit down feast with lots of wine which usually deteriorates into singing and dancing. Tiring, chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sara, Digital Marketing Manager
Christmas is my absolute favourite holiday, and let me tell you one thing: what I love the most about Christmas is the food. My parents used to have a bakery so needless say that Christmas for me is synonymous of homemade panettone and pandoro. My Italian Christmas lunch always features lasagna, lamb, panettone and a fantastic smell of freshly made food filling the air. Another Christmas must-do for me: watch Disney cartoons (I will never be too grown up to watch cartoons). Mary Poppins is my favourite and I can’t wait this year to watch it with my little baby Matilda for the first time. Buon Natale a tutti e buon appettito!