Welcome to the most wonderful day of the year (Terms & conditions apply).

Happy Christmas! or Bah Humbug! Depending on your view, Christmas is either an annual orgy of excessive consumption or a time to rejoice in the Birth of Shane McGowan our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When it comes to Christmas I find myself ambivalent about it, bordering on full-blown hostility. According to our Twitter poll, Christmas does divide opinion: Do you like Christmas? — Slugger O'Toole (@SluggerOToole) December 18, 2020 On the negative side, excessive shopping horrifies me. The amount …

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The first Christmas Tree of the season…

I was out for a walk the other day, and I noticed that someone in the next street had their Christmas Tree up already. It was an odd mashup as they also had all their Halloween decorations up. It was likely everything in the attic was getting an airing at the one time. In normal times you would be tempted to tut and make an observation that Christmas is getting earlier every year, but these are not normal times. This …

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The Ghost of Christmas Present…

One hundred and seventy-five years ago, on 19 December 1843, Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol was first published. The first edition of 6,000 copies sold out within a few days, before Christmas. It has remained one of his most popular works ever since. A few days ago, to celebrate this, the BBC screened Simon Callow’s one-man show, a performance of this set in a disused building. Callow declaims from memory, though his text, following Dickens’s own theatrical script, is quite abridged …

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This Christmas double your charity donations with UK Aid Match…

Many people like to give to charity at Christmas time but it is important to look at how you can maximise your donations. Until the end of February, the UK Government will match your contribution to select charities. So if you donate £10 the charity gets £20. It is a successful scheme that has been running for the past few years and is a bit of a no-brainer for your donations. The eligible Charities in the current round are: · AfriKids …

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Surrendering the ‘War on Christmas’

‘Tis the season of war- the ‘War on Christmas’. This is the time of year when, traditionally, conservative media outlets employ that phrase to describe what they see as a supposed marginalization of Christmas and a relentless attack against Christmas symbolism, greetings, displays, and spirituality. Their goal in calling this out, they say, is to restore Christmas to its rightful position as a Christian holiday in a Christian America. They seek to do away with the secular trappings of Christmas, …

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I return your seasonal greeting card with contempt…

Came across this seasonal gem via Reddit and the Irish Times: “I return your seasonal greeting card with contempt. May your hypocritical words choke you and may they choke you early in the New Year, rather than later.” Prof Kennedy Lindsay, a Vanguard member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, returning a Christmas card from then minister for foreign affairs, Garret FitzGerald, as reported in The Irish Times I confess I had never heard of the good Professor but having a read …

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City council recommends no free Christmas parking

This is a rare post from myself that is almost entirely from the perspective of being a motorist. As Belfast City Council’s Growth and Regeneration committee recommends that they do not offer free parking after 6pm or on Saturdays coming up to Christmas, my first reaction is that in fact we are only really discussing one thing: free parking on a Saturday. But what about parking for late night shopping?  Well, only three council car parks charge after 6pm – …

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A very Happy Christmas to all Slugger’s readers, fans (and grumpy old detractors…)

I was thinking of letting the headline from Brian’s Stormont House post from yesterday be the last post from Slugger before Christmas, not least because its warm and generous sentiments are probably the best way to finish off a less than optimal year for Northern Irish politics. All government business saved to the end provides warm sense of promise for the new year. 2014 has been an unexpectedly good year for Slugger. With the addition to the team of David McCann as deputy editor …

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Forget Turkey – sketches, songs, political satire & belly laughs

The Lyric Theatre’s Forget Turkey is packed full of sketches, songs, spoof adverts and a narrative thread about a supermarket that’s closing its shutters. Multimedia rich and packed with more laughs a minute than any show I’ve attended in years, Forget Turkey starts strongly with a musical review of the year that covers local and world events. Images are projected onto the gable wall of a house, with lyrics of some of the songs appearing to tempt the audience to …

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The five, five words of Christmas (incomplete)

Christmas messages run through Wordle. Does what they say a lot, say a lot? DUP Christmas, God’s, Northern, Ireland, birth Sinn Féin Sinn, Féin, Ág, águs, leis UUP Northern, Ireland, Unionist, People, party SDLP: No Christmas message as yet Alliance: No Christmas message as yet Blank