Welcome to the dedicated online space for my PhD research project, The Festive Log.
As the age old saying goes, Christmas comes but once a year. The annual shift into this purportedly ‘magical’ world of wish-fulfilment and enchantment has, it seems, become second nature to most of us. It is a shift that many of us work hard to make an active effort – and indeed often feel an equal pressure – to construct. And yet, it is also a shift which is for the most part experienced as a moment of felt collective transcendence; of the extra-ordinary breaking in to the ordinary. We find in the Christmas festival a distinctive world of ritual symbolism and activity. A world in which realities are suspended, if not strangely magnified; a world in which time stands still, dreams are indulged and escapist utopias entertained. A world of intensity in which expectations press, and emotions run high; a world in which everything seems to have that extra little bit of sparkle. Many of us so busy getting ready for it that, before we’ve had much of a chance to admire the decorations or get too sick of the turkey sandwich or mince pie, we find ourselves having to take them down again, resume normality, and make our New Year’s resolutions all over again.
This research aims to give us all a chance to stop for a moment, take these curious traditions in, and really have a think about what it all might mean.
Of course, on one level, we all think we know what Christmas is about. Whether we find it irritating, or lovable, painful or joyous, we all know what to expect….
But how much do we take for granted? How do our personal traditions really compare with those of our neighbours? Why do so many of us persist in all the frenzy of lugging trees about, turning our houses upside down, smearing glitter over everything, dragging ourselves around festive laden shops, dashing around to stock up on vast quantities of bread sauce and Brussels sprouts, and all the while, intensively forcing ourselves to interact with things that will ‘get us in the mood’?
And why do so many others of us feel forced into declaring ourselves a ‘Scrooge’? Why do so many of us find this annual moment of intense festive activity does nothing but propel us into a sense of self-conscious apathy, confused curiosity, or abject alienation?
And what of those people who actively choose not to celebrate it? How does this time of year affect them?
How many of us have ever really had the chance to properly share and document our stories – the way it’s done (or not done!) in our house, the things which stick in our memories, the things that make Christmas special for us, or indeed the things that make it tough?
Whether you’re someone I’ve met along my festive travels, whether you’re a curious friend of mine who is logging on to find out what on earth I’m doing with my life, or whether you’ve just stumbled upon us, Gelf the Elf and I very much hope you will enjoy exploring the themes of our research, and welcome you to get in touch with any questions, comments, or reflections you may have.
Watch this space for updates as to our future publications, and follow the links to find out more about the project….