HANGING A CHRISTMAS WREATH on your door is like a henna tattoo: it adds colour and decoration but is not permanent.
And like a tattoo, it may prompt comment from those around you… “’Ere, ’oo do they fink they are — they trying’ to show us up or somefink?”
Perhaps. The tradition might instead signify just social oneupmanship (someone, invent a non-gender version of that word, please).
Even a non-sociologist will notice that the wreaths around Hackney are, as this tiny sample from the E8 district shows, mostly a manifestation of middle-class aesthetics if not values.
Paradoxically, it could have originated not with the affluent but with poor parishioners, keeping alive some features of a pre-Christian midwinter festival.
Or it could come from a St Thomas’s Day (aka, shortest day, 21 December) custom of women and girls going from door to door to seek provisions from wealthier neighbours for a Christmas feast and in return leaving holly and mistletoe at doors in gratitude.
Well, neighbourhood rivalries are as old as Christmas but what’s cheering is that to hang a circle of holly or something like it is to make a tiny protest at the commercialisation of what started as a commemoration of the birth of a child who grew up to be a religious revolutionary.
In any case, the manifestation of peace and joy, surprisingly large this Christmas, should be recorded in all its entwining glory.
Before the wreaths of yuletide are taken down tomorrow Saturday 6 January 2018, the 12th (and generally agreed, last) day of Christmas, let us celebrate them.
David Altheer 050118
* Pictures © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com and all for sale for reproduction. Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink.