‘I’m a cultural culchie, baptised in red lemonade and raised by bullocks’
Patrick Freyne: Every December the Eighth it happens - hordes of salivating red-faced rural types
In my day they’re what passed for tasty Christmas treats. We’d have sprouts for dessert covered in cream and they’d often come in selection boxes next to the Revels. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
It’s December, and thanks to “liberals” (sorry for whispering but I’m in The Irish Times office) there’s absolutely no sign of any celebration anywhere in the country. There is, as you’ll know, a terrible “war” being waged against Christmas. As a result we have to say “Merry Xmas” instead of “Merry Christmas” and on no account must we even reference the birth of Chris. So I’ve put together a pre-Christmas primer of Christmassy things for millennials who have never experienced it.
Every December the Eighth it happens: Hordes of salivating red-faced rural types who eat dinner in the middle of the day and read back issues of the Irish Press and hold their trousers up with bailing twine, arrive into the city on mules and tractors and souped-up hatchbacks, in order to buy job-lots of Curly Wurlies, chewing tobacco and agriculturally themed playthings for their unfortunate looking children.
Apologies, that’s not me speaking. I’m a cultural culchie myself, baptised in red lemonade and raised by bullocks in the cool shade of a boarded-up office park. No, that was a direct quote from an ESRI report I just read. However you parse it, December 8th is a big shopping day for the plain people of the real Ireland and also the birth-date of Culchie Christ (Marty Morrisey).
A passive-aggressive reindeer who has achieved body acceptance but at the expense of humility. He has his own song now and everything. Seriously. That guy. I’m so tired of liking his make up-free selfies on Facebook.
Rudolph’s Coke-shilling consort. He goes wherever he pleases, santasplaining the naughtiness of children he has never met, essentially critiquing everyone else’s parenting skills. He has many names in different cultures – Santy, Father Christmas, Krampus, Jingle Daddy, Señor Ho Ho, Clarkson – and he does all sorts of things from beating people with sticks to gifting them unwanted socks filled with coal. Okay, if I’m being honest, Santa is starting to worry me (note to self: write “Why Santa is Problematic” hot take for clicks ).
Why do people like this? It’s basically bitter, alcohol-sodden, dried fruit that’s on fire. Then again, Christmas pudding was never meant to taste good. It (and Christmas cake) developed as a way of preserving food in the days before everything was doused in delicious artificial preservatives, corn syrup and MSG. Thus, the pleasure garnered from eating Christmas pudding isn’t from the taste per se, but is simply an ancestral memory of not starving to death between harvests.
“Okay, so there was this bestselling book called The Old Testament. It was all about God and it was really popular with loads of people so the marketing department got together around a white board to brainstorm a spin-off.”
“That’s a tall order. How can you produce a spin-off to the story of God?”
“Two words: Muppet Babies.”
“No way! They muppet-babied God?”
“The tagline [he sings]: ‘He’s God but he’s cute. So cute you say: ‘Jesus, he’s cute.’ That’s why he’s called ‘Baby Jesus’.”
“This doesn’t sound right…”
“I’m working on the melody. It could have been worse. The next best idea was to give God a perky, miniature sidekick called Godzooki.”
“Do… do you think God’s full name is Godzilla?”
“[Changing the subject] Anyway, that’s the story of Christmas. [\Puts hands on hips proudly] The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
“Are you a really a priest?”
“That’s what my oversized novelty sunglasses say.”
An inappropriately dressed policeman impresses his estranged wife with violence. A child is offered a union-free sweatshop by a capricious Victorian-garbed capitalist. An Austrian and his brood tempt a nun from her vocation then sing their way out of Nazi-peril. A neglected child tortures two vagrants. Several bumbling Englishmen engage in whimsically-soundtracked sexual harassment.* Yes, everyone has their own favourite holiday film. All, in some way, demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas.
*Die Hard, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Sound of Music, Home Alone, Love, Actually.
Christmas gift inflation
This was Patrick Kavanagh’s idea of a Christmas good time:
“One side of the potato-pits was white with frost –
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.”
And look at the cut of you, groaning on a Paw Patrol beanbag, clutching a talking Furby that can wee itself and feel pain, and weeping gluttonous tears that taste of meat. Have you ever even seen frost?
We got this one from “the Brits”, who got it from their monarchic German in-laws (Prince Albert) who got it from stateless pagans who probably worshiped the tree, the big eejits. We made it more Christian by electrifying it and surrounding it with mass-produced plastic toys and unspoken family secrets.
Fairytale of New York
The best Christmas song ever written, it’s about a pre-Christmas spat between two dissolute neer-do-wells. In the course of the song they consider their broken dreams and their drunken co-dependency before reconciling into a dancing embrace, thus sparing the country an unwanted election. Yes, it really is excellent. I like how singer and composer Ronan Keating barks the lyrics and puts on a cod Irish accent like an actual member of Fine Gael.
Appropriate Christmas decorations
I have strong feelings about this. Christmas lights should be gawdy and multicoloured and, ideally, seizure inducing. Anyone who has tasteful white or blue lights and hand-crafted wooden baubles on a white Christmas tree hates Christmas/freedom and should go back to Soviet Russia and/or Ikea to think about what they’ve done.
The Brussels sprout
Or, as it’s been renamed since Brexit, John Bull’s Freedom Cabbage. You youngsters can complain all you like about having to eat your sprouts, but in my day they’re what passed for tasty Christmas treats. We’d have sprouts for dessert covered in cream and they’d often come in selection boxes next to the Revels. Yes, the olden days were absolute shite, kids, but we old people will always, always vote to go back there because our brains are broken.
An undernourished slave species who work tirelessly creating toys for Santa in an icy tax-haven. What can I say? They seem to like it. Are we not all, in a sense, Santa’s elves?