The Festive Log is a three year AHRC Northern Bridge funded PhD research project led by Lucinda Murphy, who works in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. The research is broadly considering how different people, communities and organisations think about and celebrate Christmas in Britain. In short – what Christmas means to them. The project is based in the North East of England, and will focus primarily in and around Durham.
In order to investigate this, Lucinda – alongside her fabulous research assistant Gelf! – will be volunteering and participating in a range of communities in the lead up to Christmas 2017. As a result of this, she hopes to include anonymized stories of her experiences and interactions in her research.
She will be spending most of her time with four main communities:
- Working as a trainee ‘Elf’ at Crook Hall and Gardens (Gelf has agreed to show her the ropes) as part of the Hall’s Christmas activity days for children and families during December. For more information about these events, please see http://crookhallgardens.co.uk/events/).
- Attending some of Durham Cathedral’s key Christmas carol services held throughout December.
- Working as a volunteer at Neville’s Cross Primary School in the run up to Christmas, with particular focus on their annual school nativity play and celebrations.
- Working as a volunteer with North Tyneside Council on their ‘Make Christmas Special’ Campaign, sitting in on the planning meetings held by the various charitable organisations/individuals who organize and volunteer as part of events for their area on Christmas Day. This will involve attending any corresponding fundraising events in the lead up to Christmas, before volunteering at an event on Christmas Day itself.
At the same time, Lucinda will also be running an online community engagement project via social media, and this website. This project will allow participants to actively follow the research as it progresses and to explore some of the research questions for themselves. Both those participating in each of the places Lucinda visits, and anyone else who is interested in the project will be welcome to take part in this community ‘logging’ of Christmas stories.
To get involved and log your story, please go to Log Your Story!, where you will be invited to take part in a voluntary short online questionnaire.
If you’re feeling really keen, you can go to the Explore the Themes section, where you will find suggested discussion questions which might help get you and your friends and families thinking about the themes of this research over Christmas…or just act as handy conversation starters for the Christmas dinner table!
After participating in each of these communities over the Christmas period, Lucinda hopes to follow this experience with a series of interviews from January-March 2018 with some of the people she has met along the way. The interviews will be held in people’s own homes and participants will be asked to share material things which remind them of Christmas (e.g. photos, decorations, Christmas jumpers, songs).
It is aimed that the doctoral thesis will be completed by Christmas 2020, and hoped that further publications may result. A copy of the thesis will be disseminated to each of the partner organisations, and also made publically available to view via Durham University’s website.
Keep an eye on this website for updates as to the project’s progress!