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A Christmas Carrot

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and or ......... , take your pick or fill in the dots.

Its come on Christmas in Cambridge, winter solstice Saturnalia to some. We crossed a snow-covered landscape to chop down a tree in Wisbech and bring it home to decorate with baubles and angels, a pagan symbol of life in the midst of winter. We passed people skating on a frozen lake in the fens. Now our nieces are putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. One has reprised Joni Mitchell's sentimental 'River' from my car play-list and is wistfully singing it as if it were a carol. "Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on...."

I have wanted to write about this for some time. In February 2007, we had a decent snowfall in Cambridge, enough to toboggan, make snowballs and, of course snowmen. One enthusiastic student went so far as to erect a 4 foot phallus, another ancient pagan symbol, one of virility, 'duh', on Parker's Piece in central Cambridge. Such sights are not uncommon in England. The 180ft Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset has a prominent erection that can be seen for miles. However, England is also the country that covered up classical nudity in Victorian times with fig leaves.

Despite good humoured onlookers laughing at the cheeky sculpture, the Cambridge Evening News reported, (Friday, February 9, 2007), that the police booked the 18 year-old student for a public order offence, fining him £80. This resulted in my Swiss mother-in-law writing a sympathetic (Pro Juventute?) letter to the Cambridge Evening News pointing out the hypocrisy in this fine. She included a humorous Swiss stamp showing a snowman given a carrot for a penis. The Swiss clearly find this amusing and worthy of putting on a stamp. It allows them to laugh at the British and repeat that most awful and tiresome of expressions - "No sex please, we're British!"

It should be pointed out that the student created a large phallus, not a snowman with a carrot in the wrong place.  However, England is a nation that believes, with some justification, that it has the best sense of humour in the world. It  mocks the Germans and Swiss for having none. So, what does this Swiss stamp say about that conceit? What do the actions of its prudish police say about British society? An obvious conclusion for many will be that in this instance the law was an ass ie. donkey, not a derriere. While it may be funny to some, like students, should juvenile lewdness like this be allowed in public where young children at play can see it?

Whether you are having Christmas or Happy Holidays in the heat or the snow, we wish you a wonderful time with your loved ones. And please, let's aim for Goodwill among Men and Peace on Earth in the New Year, especially a speedy and just end to the war in the Ukraine.


1]. Some British stamps showing a typical British snowman.
2]. Letter to the Cambridge Evening News including a Swiss stamp showing a snowman with a carrot penis.

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  • Christmas-Snowman-GB-Stamps.jpg
  • Christmas-Snowman-Letter.jpg

So, as we enjoy our Christmas or Happy Holidays, let's raise a glass to the absurdity of it all and wish each other a wonderful time with our loved ones. And maybe, just maybe, we can strive for a little bit of Goodwill to All and Peace on Earth in the New Year. Cheers!"

British humour often involves poking fun at oneself or others in a lighthearted way, and can sometimes involve satire or irony. It can also be self-deprecating or self-effacing, with people making fun of their own shortcomings or misfortunes.

Overall, British humour is highly valued and admired, and is seen as an important part of the country's culture and identity. It has the ability to bring people together and bring a smile to their faces, even in difficult or challenging times.

Thanks for sharing your amusing story. For us it has been a sunny experience so far at least for the first part of the day, as we came to Cyprus. 


Csobla has reacted to this post.

Our Christmas tree fell over some time last night. We were called around to my mother-in-law's this morning to sweep and mop up the damage. She lost some ornate old, fifth, certainly fourth generation family baubles that had come from her husband's family home in Wimbledon, as well as some modern ones purchased a few week ago. One of the busted old baubles was the Wise Old Owl, an Edwardian glass example of yet another adopted pagan symbol. C 'est la vie. It's sad but not the end of the world. The message of Christmas both pagan and Christian, is that there is always Hope in the midst of winter. Like puppies, a tree is for Life, not just Christmas!

Csobla has reacted to this post.