The Festive Cycle

Christmas Table Stella Levi

High days and feast days are times for family gatherings, rejoicing and, well, feasting. Most of the time we're able to carry off these celebratory occasions with reasonable damage limitation, but all bets are off when it comes to the run up to the secular holiday of December 25th.

This is a time where we once more enter into the cycle of festive fever and New Year recovery.

Christmas is associated with excess in everything: store promotions, spending, eating, drinking, entertaining, and partying. On the street we are stupefied by a profusion of glittering streetlights, twinkling bauble-laden trees, carolers, and seasonal music. We are then propelled by fantasy window displays into shops and stores where a dazzling show sets the mood and entices us to open our wallets and hand over our cash in exchange for items we wouldn’t normally consider at any other time. Is it no wonder we are seduced into the festive consumerism game, with many of us happy to participate.

Food and drink always perform well in the battle for the consumer’s pound, and supermarkets are well aware that the main event at Christmas will be centered around the celebratory meal on the day (after church, of course - let’s not forget there’s a Biblical reason we’re doing all this). The prudent person will be taking time to meticulously plan the provision gathering for the influx of visitors to ensure a traditional feast is dished up - and plenty of it.

Supermarkets are geared towards supplying us with an abundant array of Christmas packaged epicurean goodies with the non-perishables being shipped in first. This is the time where we, the consumer - if we are wise - will be cashing in on those store points we’ve been merrily saving all year. Alcohol gets a steady build up, and as the holiday approaches, the fresh stuff comes in. This slow-feed process panders to our natural inclination to stockpile foodstuffs and our siege mentality kicks in. No one likes a famine, right? We know that there’s no need to shop as if the shelves will run dry either - the shops will be open again on Boxing Day and there will be ample for all, but that still doesn’t stop us from loading up our trolleys to overflowing, and back home, squirreling away our supplies.

As with most festive occasions there’s always a fair amount of excessive behaviour involved. The rounds of socialising that take place at Christmas, the gorging and quaffing of rich food and plentiful drink on an almost daily basis, makes us naturally want to curb our behaviour at some point and say "Enough is enough!" The body can only take so much. And so comes the purge.

Thank the Lord for the New Year. The New Year acts as a punctuation mark, the finishing line, if you will, for all the fun, frivolous, indulgent times we’ve been having. It’s a time for out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new. Fresh starts, a thorough detox, and after the credit card balance has been reduced to a manageable size, it’s a period for lying fallow with restraint behaviour so we can slowly ramp up for the next seasonal occasion - Easter - with all its wonderful chocolate extravaganzas.

Why deny yourself the thrill of the cycle? After all, it’s a cultural phenomenon that occurs year after year, so try not to fight it. You’ll enjoy it more that way.