Nothing speaks to the power of Nigella Lawson than her ability to create weeks of nonsense discourse. Remember when she put avocado on toast and sent the nation’s chefs flying backwards onto their fainting couches? Remember when she advised against dinner parties? Remember “microwavé”?
This past weekend she sparked further debate by recommending we all stop making Christmas cake, inspired by her theory that few of us actually like it and that it ends up “gathering dust” on the kitchen counter anyway.
Lawson, as ever, is merely spitting facts here. But it got us thinking: what else would we cancel from the festive season if, like Father Christmas himself, we wielded omnipotent power?
There is, after all, much to choose from. Think Christina Aguilera’s Christmas album. Think Cliff Richard. Think the Marks and Spencer “Christmas Colin”! That little weirdo. But none of the above are quite as objectionable as the festive traditions most despised by The Independent’s culture and lifestyle team.
We’ve knocked our paper-crown-wearing heads together and come up with our scroogiest of Christmas opinions. Humbug!
Wearing sexy festive underwear
Christmas is not a sexy holiday. The weather is frightful, the family tensions are high, and the jumpers are unflattering – notoriously so. But that’s OK, not every holiday has to be a sultry affair. Christmas is a time for cosiness, a time for wearing layers on layers on layers. It is not a time, as Ann Summers and Agent Provocateur suggest, for donning a pair of red polyester knickers with a white fur trim and bejeweled hold-ups in a bit of naughty Mrs/Mr Claus cosplay. Your tolerance for festive-themed lingerie will depend on your answer to a simple question: do you find Santa sexy? And if the answer is yes, well that’s a whole other thing. (Annabel Nugent)
Eating mince pies
I grew up in a family of mince pie devotees. Every Christmas, you’ll find plates piled high with them, homemade versions alongside shop-bought, maybe the odd fancy flavour thrown in. And yet, going against nature and nurture, I fervently despise every possible iteration of these horrible little snacks, packed with wrinkly raisins and a host of other dry, depressing co-conspirators. Why celebrate Christmas, the best time of the year, by torturing yourself with the worst alleged “treat” possible? My hatred was only further entrenched when one of my best friends and then housemate became the buyer in charge of mince pies for a big supermarket. They materialised everywhere, in every cupboard, at unseasonable times, in unbranded sample packaging and in shiny festive boxes: the universe, and/or the mince pie industrial complex, was cruelly trolling me. If I ever become grown-up enough to host a Christmas of my own, they’ll be banned outright. (Katie Rosseinsky)
Putting up with bigoted in-laws
Nothing quite puts a downer on festivities like, erm, racial hatred. I’ll never forget the Christmas a few years back when my cousin’s partner opened her mouth and emptied the room faster than Rudolph can race across the snow. First, she fawned over Trump. Then, she complained about the changing demographic in her wealthy west London neighbourhood. The final spike of holly on the Christmas pudding was her denial that climate change is real. Somebody, pass the Baileys. (Ellie Harrison)
Singing Christmas carols
The choral drone of Christmas carols is enough to suck the festive cheer right out of my soul. For such a merry time of the year, why must the sound of them be so bleak and blue? Opening the front door to see a group of carollers – and not the Evri driver with my parcel in hand – is worse than being cajoled into watching the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special or accidentally burning my nut roast. Hark! How the carols must go. (Ellie Muir)
Pretending to like turkey
Some people like to joke that we only eat turkey once a year for a reason. The joke is we only eat turkey once a year, at Christmas, because it’s not very nice. To me, this is not a joke. Why can’t we just admit that turkey is a bland, overly expensive part of the Christmas dinner that should be replaced by something we all actually enjoy eating? No one in their wildest dreams would go for a Sunday roast and lament that they must choose beef, chicken or pork belly over a dry bit of turkey. Instead we continue with this hell, where for the rest of December our fridge is full of sad tinfoil parcels of turkey, which we must desperately think of something to do with. No, my cat doesn’t want to eat it – she has standards. No, I don’t want to cover it in cranberry sauce – cranberry sauce isn’t very nice either. No, basically, to turkey. (Jessie Thompson)
Talking about Love Actually
Did you know that Love Actually is very problematic? That it’s filled with fat jokes and everyday misogyny? That Keira Knightley wears an inexplicably big hat in it? Of course you do, because it’s all anyone can talk about during the months of November and December. Annual Love Actually discourse is far worse a crime than anything actually in Richard Curtis’s twinkly 2003 romcom – it’s up there with debates about the “real villain” of The Devil Wears Prada, or asking “how can the characters in Friends afford such a massive apartment?”. We all know that the modern internet is generally the same five subjects being sifted over ad nauseum, occasionally with cameos from Nazis and crypto-bros, but please for the love of God make the Love Actually stuff stop.
I don’t want to hear any more about the troubling power dynamic of Colin Firth getting it on with his housekeeper. Or how the boy who played Liam Neeson’s son is now engaged to Elon Musk’s ex-wife. And if I receive one more press release in which Joanna Page shares anecdotes from her time on set, I will catapult myself into the bowels of hell, which is where any and all serious conversation about this bloody film deserve to go, too. Arghhh. (Adam White)