Google+ A Bit About Britain: Happy (offensive) Christmas Google+

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Get to know A Bit About Britain - an idiosyncratic view of places to visit in Britain, British history - and stuff. Warts and all. Where shall we go today?

Friday, 18 December 2015

Happy (offensive) Christmas

A heart-felt wish for the best of Christmases to my reader, whoever, whatever and wherever s/he is.  And, while I’m about it, a Happy New Year too. 

Winter scene, A Bit About Britain

Christmas is still a special time in Britain, whatever you may read about the efforts of the so-called ‘politically-correct’ brigade.  There are, so it is said, public authorities and businesses that ban Christmas decorations on the grounds that such fripperies and baubles could offend non-Christians.  For the same reason, apparently, it is the policy of these sensitive souls to substitute traditional Christmas salutations with something anaemic - ‘Happy Winter’, possibly.  The irony of sending a Christmas card bereft of any Christmas message or iconography amuses me no end.  I have no first-hand experience of this form of bigotry, though if it is promoted by any publicly-funded body I would have something pithy to say about people who work for me wasting my money.

Winter scene, A Bit About Britain

The erosion of freedom of speech in the United Kingdom is genuinely worrying, but you do wonder if accounts of sterilised Christmas traditions have been exaggerated, or even manufactured, by right-wing journalists and politicians who are equally as bonkers as their PC counter-parts.  Even so, some of the things you hear are so bizarre they could be true.  Nor would it appear that Britain stands alone; rumours of politically-correct ‘winter celebrations’ drift across the Pond.  The Roosevelt Field Mall (shopping centre) in Long Island has been heavily criticised for putting Santa Claus in a glacial theme, rather than the usual holiday village.  Starbucks, already in trouble in the UK for not paying taxes, has allegedly selected a non-Christmas festive design (whatever that means) for its mugs and instructed its servers (known, for some reason, as ‘baristas’) not to wish its customers ‘Merry Christmas’ in case anyone gets upset.  Oh dear.

I often hear people grumble about Christmas, but I’ve never actually heard anyone say they are offended by it – except for its over-commercialisation.  Apart from occasionally (very) nasty tribal squabbles between Catholic and Protestant, the UK has a pretty good record of religious tolerance in recent centuries.  We need to keep it that way.  People of good heart – whatever their particular beliefs - would surely find it inconceivable not to respect public displays of faith as has been customary for many hundreds of years?

Winter scene, A Bit About Britain

But Britain is decidedly secular in character and a recent report suggested that Christianity has declined to such an extent that its contribution to public life needs to be diluted.  However, being a practising Christian is not a prerequisite for believing in Christmas, whilst a religiously-neutral Christmas is obviously a contradiction in terms.  The roots of Christ’s Mass lie in mid-winter religious celebrations enjoyed long before Christianity reached these islands, and our modern Christmas includes traditions that would be alien to early Christians.  So what the detractors of Christmas are saying is not simply that people may be upset by Christianity, but by the traditions themselves.  In other words, it is the culture that might cause offence. Oh dear (again).

Sheep, A Bit About Britain

Well, Christmas is part of Britain's culture and heritage.  The culture is full of imperfections and others are available, but this one is mine.  If it’s yours too, and bearing in mind this is the season of peace and goodwill, I urge you to immediately go out and offend someone.  Do it today by holding Christmas in any way you want. Sing carols, put up your Christmas tree, exchange presents, remember the Nativity, go to church, pray, burn the Yule log, eat well, see those you love – and so on.

Sheep, A Bit About Britain

If Christmas is not part of your culture – have a happy Christmas anyway, enjoy the holiday if you get one and I wish you peace and prosperity for the coming year.

One of the characteristics of British Christmas in recent years has been somewhat of a competition between larger retailers over who has the best TV advert.  My current personal favourite is the offering from the supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, featuring the antics of a hapless cat, Mog.  Mog’s Christmas Calamity is hilarious – though it has a slightly twee ending and I’m puzzled that this creature eats boiled eggs.  Egg Mog? Be that as it may – take a peek at it on YouTube – last time I checked, it had 25+million hits.  If it offends anyone, I’m truly sorry.  Really.




I want to thank anyone who has popped into A Bit About Britain and stayed to read anything, particularly if they have left a complimentary comment.  It tickles me that people come back – even the anonymous ones (we know who some of you are) – and that A Bit About Britain is read in so many places around the world.  Apologies for not saying thank you, or visiting other blogs, as often as I would like.  See you again in 2016.

87 comments:

  1. Careful there, ABAB, this could be constituted as 'hate speech'. [/sarcasm] It is getting weird out there! I agree, celebrate the season anyway one wishes, as long as it promotes peace and goodwill. Wonderful post. To you and yours across the pond, Merry CHRISTmas and a very Happy New Year. ~:)

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  2. Egg Mog, Mike? Now that IS lame. LOL Your photos are gorgeous! And you know I love those black face sheep. You've got just the right amount of snow. It's gotten ridiculous in this country how PC we are encouraged to become. I'll still say 'Merry Christmas,' and maybe even explain the Christian origin of the word 'Holiday' if someone says 'Happy Holidays' to me. I'd hate to think that might annoy someone. ;-) I now regret having sent out one chicken card at Christmas, but then I think my readers know how I feel about Christianity, Christmas, etc. :-) One more thing. I was looking up the location of the filming of the Poirot we watched the other night. It was filmed in Kirkby Lonsdale. Where might that be, I wondered........Sigh. The Merriest of Christmases to you and Mrs. B. Wish you two were here to help eat the Christmas cake.

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    1. Like the sound of that Christmas cake, CM. Just had a thought - what sort of noise do Christmas cakes make? English is an odd language, sometimes.

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  3. Beautiful photos, Mike! Merry Christmas to you and yours. :)

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    1. Thanks, Linda - a very Merry Christmas to you too! Keep 'em laughing.

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  4. Mike, your photos are brilliant no matter what anyone is celebrating. The river shot with the snowy trees is so...Christmasy (sorry...). Mog is very cute, but "Egg Mog?"

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    1. Mog, allegedly, likes eggs...don't ask me why. Egg Nog is a drink - so it was a bad pun.

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  5. Love the Mog video. I hope you and your family have a terrific and very Merry Christmas, or do they say Happy Christmas in Great Britain?

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  6. I'm ecstatic to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. Cheers, and may your holiday be a safe one. BTW...love that 3rd shot.

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  7. I can see the appeal of that ad!

    Merry Christmas, Mike!

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  8. A very well written post and lovely photos with it! I agree with what you are saying. I personally don't celebrate christmas really as I'm a non believer (and a misery - bah humbug!) so don't want to (there are no children in the household so we can get away with 'can't be bothered'!) but I do tolerate the family, put up my "stickmas tree" and send yule / winter solstice cards.

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    1. Thanks, Louise. I'm a happy hypocrite - Christmas, to me, is as much about tradition, peace and friendship as anything.

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  9. Now I'll be having Moggie nightmares... Merry Christmas Mike :)

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  10. "Happy Winter"! How banal. Merry Christmas, Mike.

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  11. Merry Christmas, Mike! Cute little video. Star is sitting on my lap and I warned her that she better not do that! haha....

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  12. Merry Christmas. I'm not offended by the celebrations of others and hope that others give me the same tolerance. Loved the cat.

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  13. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  14. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! The post, the photos and most of all Mog!
    Merry Merry Christmas so there! :)

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  15. What beautiful images! We've had no snow in southern New England, and none predicted (well, maybe a flake or two tomorrow). The Mog video is so cute - thanks for sharing! The narrator sounded like Emma Thompson.It seems cats are popular in British children's stories - I'm thinking also of Dick Whittington's cat.
    A Merry Christmas to you. :)

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    1. You're right - apparently the narrator IS Emma Thompson. Cats seem to be everywhere - certainly all over social media - along with dogs... Alas - the pictures were taken earlier in the year; currently, the weather in our part of the world is unseasonably warm (about 10-15 C) and VERY wet.

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  16. I thought I'd better introduce myself, Mike. I'm the Anonymous reader from over the pond, way Down under! I've enjoyed your posts tremendously this year and look forward to each and every Friday to start my day with a giggle. Today's post is no exception...thank you! And, MOG, you rock!
    May you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016. I look forward to more posts. Cheeri-pip! (see what I did there...) :)

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    1. Ah - so YOU'RE the anonymous one - thank you very much! Toodle-pip and TTFN...Merry Christmas and all...

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  17. Look 'ere, mate, I don't care wevva you calls it Christmas, Holiday Time or Winter Season. What gets me is 'ow everyone says I got to be 'appy an' merry, wevva I wants to or not. It's not right 'ow us old chaps 'oo wants to be miserable an' glum are excluded from the festivities. Prejudice, that's wot it is, prejudice. 'Ow about a bit of tolerance towards us grumpy ol' geezers.

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    1. I may not agree with you being grumpy, but I'll defend to the death your right to be so. Time was that grumpy chaps were widely persecuted just for being unhappy and not gay and carefree like everyone else. Fortunately, that kind of prejudice is now not only in our past but also illegal. However, just accept that you're in a miserable minority and don't tell me how to celebrate Christmas. Bah! Humbug!

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  18. Hello Mike,
    I am one of those people who love the ring of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" - it is part of this time of year for me, and I would not want to miss it for the world!
    In fact, I have Christmas "twice": Here in Germany, Christmas Eve is the most important part of Christmas for most people, including my family. So we have a traditionl German Christmas Eve party at my parents' every year, with a tree with real candles, traditional food, exchanging presents and singing songs. Just the way we love it.
    But on Christmas morning, I have yet another Christmas: I open all my presents that were sent to me from my Yorkshire family, just as we did together when the Yorkshire lad who was my husband was still alive. It is a rather emotional moment for me, but again - I would not want to miss it for the world.

    Thank you for providing me with great reading material (entertaining and informative at the same time) and pictures all year, and visiting my blog every now and then, too. I am looking forward to many more posts here in 2016.

    Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes Neues Jahr!
    Meike

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    1. Thanks Meike - just popped over to wish you Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes Neues Jahr auch..!

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  19. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too. I look forward to reading your blogs and learning about England's history. I really like how you go so far back to tell us about all the little towns you visit. Looking forward to learning more in 2016.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy - much appreciated - Merry Christmas to you too!

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  20. this really resonated with me... whilst I enjoyed visiting the UK, I found it almost soulless- completely secular as you put it... so I agree 100% with your sentiments! have a beautiful Christmas and 2016!

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    1. Some of us aren't soulless-but possibly secular...have a beautiful Christmas!

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  21. Merry Christmas to you too! And I hope to read many more posts of yours in the coming year. Keep it up in other words!

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    1. Thanks, Marcia - much appreciated. You have a great Christmas too!

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  22. Wonderful post!! Saying 'Merry Christmas' over here is becoming politically incorrect but I certainly didn't have any problems while shopping the past week with both saying it and having it said to me. In fact, I was surprised that so many clerks said it! Your photos would make excellent Christmas greeting cards. That being said I wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy! And all the best in the new year. P.S. Loved the Sainsbury ad. :)
    Pamela

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  23. I can give you two examples, one work place, have to call the party the "winter party" not allowed anything to do with Christmas, it isn't diverse and inclusive apparently and the other a restaurant we went to less than a week ago. Not a single Christmassy thing there! Not even a mention of it. Banned! Ridiculous isn't it. I think that we should all send cards, say happy Christmas and just get on with it! I have never come across a person who is offended by Christmas, but I have come across quite a few organisations that seem to be offended by it! Happy Christmas!!!! xx

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    1. I agree (obviously). I actually think Christmas is pretty inclusive anyway - and people can take it or leave it.

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  24. Of course those of us who follow the old religion do slightly resent the hijacking of our Pagan symbolism by the upstart christian folk. Feasting, greenery, holly, ivy, mistletoe, drinking, decorations, lights, candles, all Pagan, my friend. But being one of the few religions that's never started a war we don't mind you sharing! Yuletide blessings to you and yours. :)

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    1. Was that you I spotted at the Solstice celebrations earlier, wearing that rather fetching white gown and slaughtering the animals for winter? I wish you a very happy Yule!!

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  25. I have no problem with non Christians saying things like "happy holidays" or "seasons greetings" but don't expect me to say that it is for my Merry Christmas I do not get why we Christians should change things to accommodate those of other religions when in face many of those who do not celebrate Christmas in face have no problem at all with those who do

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  26. Yes, a hearty Merry Christmas to you! Love the video.

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  27. Yay and Amen to that, Mike. Noone is going to take Merry Christmas away from me...it is part of Australian culture too. Love the Mog video! Hearty best wishes to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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    1. Must admit, I've watched Mog several times. Happy Christmas, Patricia!

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  28. Hi Mike - now I know why we have two for one in the supermarkets!! Better keep an eye open for the filthy grey cat ... it's a fun video - but why the egg ... yes I agree there.

    We are getting ourselves in knots about so many things ... if we could go back to simplicity ... peace, quiet, caring, comfort, community spirit and sharing - life would be so much easier.

    Have a lovely time with family and friends ... and thank goodness the weather isn't like your photos - though am not sure what will happen weather-wise next year ... frost fairs I could do without!

    Enjoy the festivities of what every sort and see you in 2016 ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm clearing the moss off the roof to make it easier for the reindeer as we speak...I'd rather we had somewhat less rain, personally!

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  29. I love everything about this post, especially the snow on the beautiful countryside, the sheep, and this: "The culture is full of imperfections and others are available, but this one is mine." Well said. Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year to you and yours.

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    1. Thanks, Cynthia - and all the very best to you too!

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  30. Oh dear, how very funny! The story about the cat, that is. Not the political correct sort of thing. In the Ex-German-democratic-republic angels were called End-of-the-Year-time-figures-with-wings ( as far as it can be translated, that is about it). Very nice to have that sort of thing back again. Freedom that isn´t defended will be lost.
    I really enjoyed your text and the charming pictures from the countryside.
    Merry christmas from munich!
    Sarah

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    1. Thank you, Sarah - fröhlich weihnachten to you and please pop by again in 2016.

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  31. I don't believe in Christmas... and I greatly appreciated your post! I still consider Christmas as part of the culture of my country, I'm not offended when anyone wishes me a "Merry Christmas"... But people are so trying to act "politically correct" it's ridiculous. I'm a free woman working and so some colleague came to ask me if I felt offended by a new add that displayed sexy women. They were very surprised when I said "no" and that I thougth that the women uniting to ahve it banned were stupid!
    I wish you a very merry Christmas (and you can wish me merry Winter solstice if you want)!

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    1. I think Christmas can be pretty much whatever you choose to make it; the message is a good one whichever way you look at it. Merry Winter Solstice, Magali!

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  32. Oh I love this post, I often have a rant about political correctness, especially when it involves Christmas. I wouldn’t react well if someone wished me “Happy holiday”. I’m concerned that our heritage, history and traditions seem to be declining.
    Mog is my favourite too. Egg Mog, I like it, it appeals to my sense of humour.
    Lovely photos and more sheep, they do have pretty faces.
    Wishing you and Mrs B a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

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  33. Lovely post and great snow photos. I love the sheep.
    I really liked your post last yr. on Christmas Crackers. I learned a lot from that post and bought some after Christmas, last yr. on sale, for this yr. So we will be having some at dinner.
    We would like to make our own in the future.
    Merry Christmas Mike, or Happy Winter.

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    1. Hey - that's great! Happy Christmas to you too, Thel.

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  34. Excellent post. What a cat! Merry Christmas to you and yours and thanks for all the information you pass on.

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    1. Thank you very much - and a Merry Christmas to you too!

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  35. I love your photos, Mike, they are lovely! I do love the snow! Thus far here in Montreal we haven't gotten any to write home about, which is highly unusual for this time of year here. Merry Christmas and Happy Winter to you and yours. :)

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    1. Actually, Linda, it's pretty soggy over here at the moment - the pictures were taken in November and March!

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  36. I love your photos, the river is my favorite. And then the sheep.
    I found your blog over at Cranberry Morning, I have enjoyed many posts.
    And I love this post!
    Thank You!
    Carla

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    1. Thanks, Carla. Cranberry Morning is a superstar, of course. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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  37. Brilliantly put! Happy Christmas!

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  38. I think it's silly to get upset about something that lasts for just a few weeks a year and I have to agree with your post. Merry Christmas!

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  39. Merry Christmas!
    What we think of as a "traditional British Christmas" is a compete mash up of traditions imported from different countries and different eras. Assuming we believe in Christ's birth, it wasn't on December 25th - the winter solstice was in any case a convenient festival used by the early Christians who were rather clever at marketing. And of course, we have changed the calendar in recent historical times.
    Then set in the Middle East, the main characters have names like "Joseph" and "Mary" (at least in English speaking countries, they do).
    Turkey for the main meal is a recent tradition and the bulk of the "traditional British Christmas" is an import from Germany made popular by Queen Victoria and especially Prince Albert.
    Over the years, I have known many people from many different origins and religious backgrounds, all of whom celebrate what we call "Christmas".
    I agree wholeheartedly with Mike's comments regarding in spread of Political Correctness and the fear of causing offence. The greatest cause of offence, in my very humble opinion is the patronising approach of those who think that others could possibly be offended by tradition.
    Merry Christmas!

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    1. And a very Merry Christmas to you too, Kevin! You might enjoy an early (Christmas) post wot I wrote - http://bitaboutbritain.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/christmas-post.html

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  40. Great post... and interesting comments and replies.
    Merry Christmas!

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  41. I wish you a Merry Christmas :-)

    I am a believer and the Christian traditions are important to me. For the non believers it is the Christian traditions that have built our society and our freedoms. The laws of the land are being changed to remove those Christian traditions and make us less 'free'!

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  42. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mike :)
    (singing: "...and a happy New Year!")

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  43. Have a wonderful Christmas Mike, don't enjoy too many bottles!!

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  44. merry christmas to you across the seas. :)

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  45. I am sorry for being late. I wanted to be by much earlier. "Stuff" happened, but I hope you are still having a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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  46. Well Christmas so far has been good, and here we are on Boxing Day evening, in fact by the time I hit the publish button it may be the day after ... the days go so quickly.

    I hope your Christmas Celebrations have been filled with fun, family, friends and laughter.
    My good wishes for the remainder of 2015 and a very Happy New Year too

    All the best Jan

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  47. Well Written Mike and I hope your Christmas was full of fun, good "tucker" and of course the liquid refreshments.
    Stuff the "PC" mob, I cannot fathom that lot out. As a matter of fact I don't think they can fathom themselves out.
    They come up with more "twists and turns" than a demented snake.
    Hope that 2016 is a far safer year for all of us and to be in the spirit of things, I suppose also to the "PC" mob - ha ha.
    Cheers
    Colin (Brisbane. Australia) where a short fierce storm has just crossed making the temperature and the "sweat" box subside. Hopefully it will turn around and give us an all night not so fierce drenching for pleasant sleeping conditions.

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  48. wow, i love snow like that. all puffy & clean. great for pics. i love the church, so pleasing to the eye who loves amazing architecture, like myself. Merry Christmas & hope your new year in 2016, will be a fabulous one!! ( :

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  49. I love dropping by A Bit About Britain, Mike! Thanks for all the wonderful tours you have given us! ;-)

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  50. Yes, the supposed "war on Christmas" is largely a product of groups that want to get people excited about their cause. At one time there was a famed atheist who conducted campaigns against all sorts of religious events, but she died 20 years ago. That was Madalyn Murray O'Hair and there are still people who fear her!

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  51. Morning Mike - hope all is well in Britain this new year - looking forward to traveling around with you as the months progress.
    Sending best wishes for a great 2016.
    Mary -

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  52. Well said. We should be tolerant of all the different cultural celebrations rather than worrying about offending others. I've seen it done in Singapore where Eid and Christmas are both celebrated equally.

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  53. i hope you had a merry christmas and wishing you a happy new year!! wonderful photos as usual!

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Hi - thanks for dropping into A Bit About Britain. New material is now being posted to www.bitaboutbritain.com and most of the material here will gradually be updated and moved over to that new site. Please drop in there, click on the blog page, and take a look round. TTFN - Mike.