A feast for the senses

SPREADING CHEER

A feast for the senses

MAGICAL TIME London comes alive during Christmas. Photo by author

The city is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, which is reflected through its Christmas festivities, whether it is in London or in smaller towns. Homes throughout the country are profusely decorated with coloured lights and tinsel. Millions of small, green fir trees are decorated with lights and coloured baubles, which are placed in homes near the window, providing a real feast for the senses when you walk down any street, anywhere in the country.

London has long been on the map for festive season celebrations and for decades, it attracted Christmas shoppers, who would browse through elegant and glamorous stores for chic clothes, bespoke quality tailoring and shoes, fine wines and gourmet delights to tickle the tongue. During this festive season, gifts are displayed on windows of famous stores such as Harrods, Hamleys and Libertys  — festooned with a jaw-dropping array of decorations, gold, silver and red glass baubles and frilly streamers hanging from the aisles, adding to that, the usual anodyne background music replaced with the seasonal jollity of Christmas carols.

Christmas is also a season of entertainment in London. Whatever your taste might be, there is something for everyone in the city. One can visit the famous West End, which boasts of more than 50 theatres featuring musicals, plays, traditional seasonal pantomimes among other works of art. You can also experience opera at the Royal Opera House or sway to cool jazz music at the famous Ronnie Scott’s in Soho. Streets of London, over the days leading up to Christmas, are illuminated with dazzling displays of lights. Oxford Street, Regents Street, Covent Garden, to name a few, vie for every consumer’s attention.

And if shopping and splurging during Christmas is something you don’t indulge in, London offers many alternatives to enjoy the festival. For instance, it is home to varied museums which showcase exhibitions of traditional and modern art, science, history and culture.  
A stroll in one of the city’s parks or a visit to the Victorian greenhouses of Kew Gardens will surely refresh your spirits. Also, try cycling along the Thames River to build up an appetite. Throughout the land, traditional brass bands and singers brave the chill to serenade passersby.

At home, on Christmas Day, people share gifts and after the log fires are lit in the hearth against the cold outside, a special Christmas dinner is served. Treats of nuts, dates, sauces and puddings of exotic dried fruits are prepared. During the days gone by, these foods were scarce, out of season, or imported by sea. They were specialties, a treat to be shared and a feast beyond all others. Till date, they symbolise the good things that were provided to people during the preceding year.

On Christmas eve, families and friends spend the evening cracking nuts, drinking wine, singing songs, playing games together and reminiscing the year that is about to end. Christmas is a time when peace descends on earth, just for a day.

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