I last fashioned a blog advent calendar approximately 300 years ago, with a modicum of planning and pretensions to festive continuity. This year, I’m emerging from eight weeks of twenty-four tutorials, twelve lectures, five seminars, and one short-trade-book-coming-out-in-January (of which more soon!), to a weekend’s pause before we enter the frenetically flapjack-fuelled Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, aka Admissions. If anyone finds this because they’re facing university interviews over the next fortnight – especially anyone hastening to the deer park + river + gargoyles palooza – hello, best of luck, we’re all rooting for you and I do remember what it was like. I genuinely love admissions, what with my Dream Team Co-Interviewer (whose daily etymologies are the purest thing on Twitter), the v. many bright young candidates, and the flapjacks.
Given the above, what could be better than committing to a daily bout of Advent blogpost goodness? Treat that question as rhetorical. I miss blogging, I like December, and nestled in the ensuing chaos of YouTubed Muppets and disturbing Scandiwegian frost-folk will be a genuine attempt to mark and benefit from Advent, the loveliest season of the year (even if the Thames Valley climate soon drives me to a reversed balaclava). I might borrow from other Advent preparation blogs, I will certainly bang on about my preferred charitable causes (poverty, homelessness, gender and sexual equality), and in extremis I might even be driven to cook (or, as my wife suggests, “write about how [I] hated all the wrapping paper [she] bought, then admitted it wasn’t so bad”).
When trying to find a theme for this post, I noted that it is the patronal feast of St Eligius, the patron saint of goldsmiths and jewellers – which makes it a good day to buy something sparkly. Or even FIVE GOLD RINGS (…segue…). The best and most bizarre YouTube video available shows Montserrat Caballe and a dozen peaky, toothy choirboys weeshing us a Merry Chreestmas from Beaulieu Palace House for the edification of one old man and some shoulderpads. For what initially seems like a more orthodox alternative, let Wells Cathedral coax you into the festive season.
Stick around? Happy Advent!
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.