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‘I never miss Carols from King’s’

Bookends author Marina Fiorato shares her favourite Christmas traditions with us…

The soundtrack to Christmas for me is the Carol Symphony by Victor Hely-Hutchinson. My Christmas begins when I hear the first few arpeggios from the harp at the beginning of the variations on ‘The First Nowell’ which also happens to be the theme tune for the BBC’s adaptation of The Box of Delights (see below) I will start playing the Carol Symphony as soon as December arrives, but sometimes Classic FM or Radio 3 will beat me to it and I will hear it first on the radio. Then I just stop what I’m doing and listen, spellbound, as Christmas creeps into the house…

BBC Tv's The Box of Delights

I watch the BBC TV series The Box of Delights every single year on DVD, timing it so that the last episode falls on Christmas Eve. The series dates from the 80s so the special effects, to the modern eye, leave something to be desired; but it has a wonderful cast including Robert Stephens as the dastardly Abner Brown and Patrick ‘Dr Who’ Troughton as the mysterious Cole Hawlings. I think it has buckets of charm and is extremely Christmassy for me, probably because it recalls my Christmas childhood. In case you’re thinking I’m a total nut, I’m reliably informed that the actor Simon Pegg does the same thing so I’m in good company.

I never miss the Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve. I make sure I have a few last minute Christmassy tasks to do, like wrapping presents or writing out cards, which I can do with my mulled wine and my carols. I love the congregational hymns, and there’s usually at least one reading from an earnest undergraduate which gives me the goosebumps, but what I really love are the choral carols. The more minor chords the better – I like them Medieval!

Santa's sleigh

As I have young children we have lots of Santa-centric traditions. We always track Santa’s progress on NORAD, a genius website which shows you the big man’s route around the globe, with embedded videos of the sleigh visiting the major cities of the world. We put out our snacks and drinks for Santa and Rudolph, then we hang out of the window listening for sleighbells. Just before bed my husband and I sit on the children’s beds and we all read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore aloud, taking the pages in turn. It’s the perfect prelude to the big day. 


Author Marina FioratoMarina’s latest books, Beatrice and Benedick and The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh, are available now.