At the European Studies Centre we celebrated the end of the term with a party. Our colleague Sarah is great in organising social events, and she managed to bring a safety-regulation-proof real fire into our seminar room: a video of a log fire, displayed on our screen. (Sarah definitely can compete with Rita!)
The relaxed Christmas High Table was very British, including Christmas crackers and paper crowns. In addition we also were – by surprise – spoiled with a Christmas lunch (also with crackers and crowns) in the college cantine. This was a very traditional one, with roast turkey and all the trimmings, and a Christmas pudding for desert. I strongly can recommend this type of British food! Even for pulling Christmas crackers, rituals are respected!
During the weekend I attended a lecture on Christmas customs: a new piece of information that I gleaned was that the reason Santa Claus often is pictured with flying reindeers is due to the fact that these reindeers are eating the ‘fly agaric’ mushroom, which was said to be hallucinogenic… (called ‘magic mushrooms’ in the UK). We also were told about the mistletoe Christmas kissing.
Christmas concerts have been going on since mid-November. On the 17th I attended the first Carols by Candle-light in Hertfort College quad. Last week we performed Rutter’s Magnificat with the Oxford University Choir, in the Sheldonian Theatre, architect Christopher Wren’s 17th Century masterpiece, described as ‘one of the architectural jewels of Oxford’.