Wessex Scene 'Celebrations' magazine, in collaboration with The Edge

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EDIT OR Emily Dennis editor@wessexscene.co.uk DEPUTY EDITO R Sam Pearson deputy-editor@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F DESI GN Ren Neoh design@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F I MAGERY Sayli Jadhav image@wessexscene.co.uk MARKETING AND EVENTS James Huford, Katie Evans publicity/events@ wessexscene.co.uk SUB- EDI TO RS

Sam Pegg

Rachel Manthorpe

Chloe Wade

FE AT URES EDITO R Elizabeth Sorrell features@wessexscene.co.uk OPINI O N EDI TO R Ellie Griffiths opinion@wessexscene.co.uk POLITICS EDITO R Hector Hemingway-McGhee politics@wessexscene.co.uk SCIENCE & TECH EDITOR Jack Davies science@wessexscene.co.uk

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR… The moment you’ve all been waiting for: the collaborative magazine between The Edge and Wessex Scene! What a better way to celebrate this than reflecting on our favourite celebrations. This year, it’s super important to celebrate all our little successes. For me, it’s the time spent with my best friend, creating this wonderful magazine for people to contribute to and enjoy. It’s experiencing the joy of bringing people together, working on something amazing, and celebrating what makes us who we are. While we may be entering winter, this isn’t just a Christmas magazine, as our writers discuss subjects from tropical diseases (p.12), Bonfire Night (p.5), and pumpkin spiced lattes (p.18). That being said, there’s no shortage of Yuletide fun, as we discuss the Queen (p.11), Boris Johnson (p.10), and St. Nick (p.6). We also travel the globe and experience Christmas across the continents (p.13) as well as join in with different national celebrations (p.16). We at Wessex Scene are thankful for The Edge and everything they bring, and couldn’t be celebrating this year with anyone better. I couldn’t be more grateful to celebrate such a wonderful committee and share this experience with another amazing group of student journalists. I hope you read this magazine with the same gleeful enthusiasm that was put into making it, and join with celebrating the little things: friendship, teamwork, and a little festive magic. Wessex Scene Editor,


LIFE S TYL E EDI TO R Daisy Gazzard lifestyle@wessex scene . c o . uk T RAVEL EDI TO R Hannah Griffiths travel@wessexscene.co.uk SPOR TS EDITO R Mitul Mistry sport@wessexscene.co.uk PAUS E EDITO R Alyssa-Caroline Burnette pause@wessexscene.co.uk NEW S & INVESTIGA TIO N S



Daniela Gonzales

Megan Laing

Byron Lewis


ED IT O R Sam Pegg editor@theedgesusu.co.uk D EP U T Y ED IT O R Harry Geeves deputy-editor@theedgesusu.co.uk R EC O R D S ED IT O R Connie Seamer records@theedgesusu.co.uk D IG IT A L C U L T U R E ED IT O R Daisy Gazzard culture@theedgesusu.co.uk FILM EDITOR Lucy Maggs film@theedgesusu.co.uk

Around the time of Christmas, the theme of Celebrations just felt like a perfect fit. We didn’t want this magazine just about Christmas (although a lot of it is), and instead came up with a theme that felt more inclusive, celebratory, and freeing for our writers. While there certainly are celebrations in this magazine, there’s plenty of anti-celebrations (?) as well. So how do you celebrate in entertainment? Well, take a read for yourself and ponder whether the battle for Christmas Number Ones really matters (p.22)? Maybe in a magazine that features a lot about Christmas, you want to know a brilliantly curated Halloween watchlist (p.28) or perhaps you’ve had enough of those pesky Christmas carollers and want them to leave you alone (p.35). Of course, we do have plenty of pro-celebrations articles with an alternative-celebrations playlist (p.24), a look over someone’s dream New Year event (p.34), or a neverto-let-you-down list of our favourite Christmas films (p.30). Celebrations are vast, and all the articles are uniquely brilliant and worth every word that comprises them. Yet, at The Edge there’s something else I want to celebrate - and that’s a strongly fortified friendship with Wessex Scene. This magazine couldn’t happen without them, and if you’re holding a printed copy in your hand, that’s all at their generosity. As much as this is a collaboration magazine between Wessex Scene and The Edge, it’s also a celebration of how student journalism has never been stronger. The Edge Editor,


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this magazine belong to each author alone - Wessex Scene is a neutral publication which aims to publish views from across the student body. To respond with an opposing opinion, please contact opinion@ wessexscene.co.uk or join our Opinion Writers’ Group.

F IL M S U B -ED IT O R Jacob Hando film@theedgesusu.co.uk L IV E ED IT O R Martha Luke live@theedgesusu.co.uk F U ND R A IS ING , EV ENT S A ND P U B L IC IT Y O F F IC ER Amy Scott-Munden publicity@theedgesusu.co.uk LIVE/RECORDS PUBLIC RELATION OFFICER Meg Gwillym relations@theedgesusu.co.uk C U L T U R E/ F IL M P U B L IC R EL A T IO N O F F IC ER Emily Dennis culturefilm-pr@theedgesusu.co.uk H EA D O F D ES IG N Rahul Sonegra design@theedgesusu.co.uk O NL INE M A NA G ER Callum Nelmes manager@theedgesusu.co.uk R EC O R D S / L IV E EX EC U T IV E Kiera Gormley live@theedgesusu.co.uk records@theedgesusu.co.uk

















































Don’’t Let Don

Firework Sales Boom This Year of firework displays with a dog that is visibly threatened, upset, and restless, which makes the small pleasure of watching fireworks from the living room window seem futile and unjustified.

n 2020, the cancellation of public firework displays due to stay-at-home coronavirus measures led to a huge boom in back-garden consumer firework sales and firework displays. Fireworks are synonymous with celebrations like New Year’s Eve and Bonfire Night, however, with the festive season approaching, are these fleeting explosions of colourful sparks illuminating the night sky really worth the distress and anxiety that unexpected firework noise can cause? Opposition to fireworks arises from many different concerns, including animal welfare, air pollution, antisocial behaviour, and the welfare of those with conditions such as autism or difficulties with sensory processing. It is against the law to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am in the UK, but this legislation is insufficient in minimising the harmful impact of fireworks. Petitions calling for tighter restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks by the general public have attracted around 750,000 signatures in three years. Nevertheless, this demand is yet to be answered with a change to legislation, leaving campaigners increasingly dissatisfied with government inaction. As a dog owner, I feel particularly strongly about the danger that fireworks pose to animal welfare and share the concern and dread that many pet owners across the country feel in the build-up to events like Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve. It is difficult to enjoy the spectacle


A recent poll conducted by the RSPCA found that sixtytwo per cent of dogs, fifty-four per cent of cats and fiftyfive per cent of horses show visible signs of distress in response to fireworks. The explosions let off by fireworks are perceived as a threat by pets, which may cause them to run, hide, bark, or show signs of stress and restlessness, while dogs are particularly vulnerable due to their sensitive hearing. This can cause further distress to both pet and owner if their pet gets lost or injured while trying to escape. It may be the case that back-garden firework displays will have to be scaled back this year. In contrast to the surplus of fireworks on the market last year, Brexit and the supply chain crisis have left distributors warning that import problems have reduced the stock of pyrotechnics by up to seventy per cent, also forcing up retail prices as a result. While this may cause initial disappointment for some, it provides an ideal opportunity to alter festive traditions, reducing the disruptive impact of fireworks without taking away the celebration. It is my view that the sale and use of fireworks should be limited to licensed public displays only, at certain times of the year. If this were the case, pet owners could plan the necessary arrangements to ensure their pets were as comfortable as possible, helping to protect vulnerable animals from the distress that many experience in response to indiscriminate firework explosions. Festive celebrations don’t need fireworks to go off with a bang.



Shoes, Sticks, & Chocolate St Nicholas on December 5th that on the night of December 5th, St. Nicholas would visit, placing chocolate in the shoes of all the good children and sticks in the shoes of all those who were bad. Those with chocolate were almost guaranteed presents at Christmas (which most of Europe celebrate on the night of the 24th, unlike Britain’s morning of the 25th celebration). For those with sticks, it served as a warning that time was running out to make it onto Santa’s good list. It’s a celebration that helps raise the Christmas spirit, bringing a Christmas treat a little earlier in December.

he celebration of St. Nicholas isn’t particularly an unheard one. Most European countries celebrate St. Nicholas in some way or form. While St. Nicholas day varies, with most Western-European countries celebrating on either the 5th or 6th, in Eastern-European countries, the day dedicated to the great Saint also happens on the 19th. Yet, in the United Kingdom, St. Nicholas is a figure we talk very little of, and most are probably unaware that this once very living figure is why Christmas is what it is today. A quick summary of St. Nicholas is what follows: once a living man, a Patron Saint who often left gifts for those in need, St. Nicholas died almost over 1700 years ago. Yet his acts of generosity spread across the world, a longevity that has maintained throughout history and warped him into the figure we recognise as Father Christmas or Santa Claus. While the common myth is that Coca-Cola made Santa red, St. Nicholas’s longstanding scarlet coat depiction put this rumour to bed (Coca-Cola only helped thrust the red appearance into the mainstream). So, if you’re wondering where Santa Claus came from because you’re pretty sure a slightly large man in a red coat didn’t turn up at the birth of Jesus, there’s your answer. So, what is St. Nicholas day? Again, it’s a tradition that varies, but one that the German in my mum has always treasured. Essentially it involves leaving shoes outside your front door (or, as my Hungarian housemate adapted my version to be, in the window sill) in the hope of finding a little something in your shoes in the morning. The idea is


It’s a celebration I hold close to my heart, more so as an adult than as a child. It’s one that I’ve tried to do every year, even after moving out. Presents are great, but waking up to find chocolate in your shoes (with a few sticks thrown in for good measure) always has a novelty that will never wear off. It’s not like Christmas where children are comparing all the gifts they got, it’s just a nice little confirmation that they’ve been good (even if they “haven’t”). It’s a small thing, but one that I’ve never understood why the United Kingdom never adopted. Perhaps it’s just one in a long list of things that we as a country have oddly distanced ourselves from. Although, the best thing about St. Nicholas day is its variation. No country treats St. Nicholas in the same way. What is chocolate in Germany is nuts and oranges in Hungary; in fact, the tradition is so varied that it can change from household to household, while the core of celebrating the wintery festive period remains. While its origins, for most, are murky, its spirit lives on in one of my favourite celebrations of the year.



Get Your Theme On: On:

Themed Christmas Parties and Why They’re Great! e all love a Christmas party, where you inevitably get drunk amongst your friends and relatives, have some festive nibbles, and generally a good boogie; however, themed Christmas parties have become more divisive in recent years. Now, I am not talking ‘Angela of The Office (US)’ themed parties, complete with Nutcrackers and civilised décor, but the ever-classy costume party. I’m not sure if it’s the fear on people’s faces upon receipt of an invitation, the inevitable half-baked, no effort, hilarious costumes (because the less effort you put in, the worse you look), or the absolute chaos of the-night-beforerealisation of the party-goer who didn’t read the invite properly the first time, but I think themed costume parties are great fun! Parties which are themed generally under the term ‘Christmas Dress-Up’ usually offer a good time: you’ve got all the resources of the supermarket’s festive section - which has been up since March - and usually the ideas flood in pretty easily. Plus, there is the added bonus of it not mattering if you are one of eight Santas in attendance - it is Christmas after all! If you do manage to come up with something unusual as your costume choice for one of these parties, you are on to a winner, baby. Personally, to fulfil this sentiment, I would recommend going as your favourite festive food item, such as a good ol’ Christmas pud. However, specific-themed parties away from the festive season are a bit more challenging. They require forwardthinking; the ability to be crafty (and consequently dealing with the expense of such activities), and ingenuity. You will find yourself visiting a seemingly endless amount of shops, which leads you to beg, borrow, or steal from friends and family - but, at least you have an end goal. You may decide that you are going to be a Mario Kart character, a flapper girl or gangster (both classic choices), a ballerina (if the theme is The Nutcracker - thanks Angela), or even as a pirate. The list goes on. The real spirit behind such parties is reliving your childhood dress-up dreams - or nightmares - with the excuse of festive fun. The holidays are one of the few opportunities people have for time off from work, and a themed costume party is therefore a great way to celebrate!


My all-time favourite kind of party, though, is what I call the ‘chaos party’. The theme is vague - something described as simply as ‘costume party’, ‘Movie Classics’, or ‘Favourite Characters’. You know, something that will really panic your invitees. What are they going to wear? How much effort will they put in? What huge variety of drunk, homemade somethings, will fill your student house or rented halls? It is perfect. If you have got the right kind of friends, everyone will seize the opportunity to get really creative, ending up with the most unusual combinations of incredibly specific items or characters. Just imagine wannabe James Bond chatting to a goldfish in the corner, whilst his wife - the ghost of Christmas future (Muppets Edition) - grabs more drinks. Amazing, right?


Themed parties are absolutely the best kind of party. They leave you with brilliant photos, laughter, and memories for years to come - and best of all, ideas for next year! Christmas parties of this stature, in particular, are becoming a dying breed - well, I say bring them back in full force for 2021! As a time of happiness, fun and getting together, why not grab your friends and family and get suited and booted for the occasion? Let’s make up for the political mishaps of last Christmas with gusto and a silly costume.



A Pet is For Life,

f you’ve ever met me, you know that my cats are my only personality trait. Our Instagram depicts our lives as a kind of floofy fairytale: endless kitty cuddles and cozy pics taken while we snuggle together in bed. As a result, many people have told me that they want to duplicate our lives for themselves. So, I get inundated with questions: where did I get my cats? Why are we so happy together? And this line of questioning often ends up in one very disconcerting place: ‘I want a kitten for Christmas!’ This is a common refrain from all too many people and it chills me every time. Because, as cliché as it sounds, it’s


true: a pet is for life, not just for Christmas. My cats and I didn’t get our fairy-tale life because I decided, on impulse, to buy a cute little ball of fluff. All of my cats are rescues. They are the ‘children’ I’ve chosen to have— the family to whom I’ve made a lifelong commitment. To me, their lives are precious gifts indeed; our family is the thing I treasure most in this world. But embracing the gift of family is very different from giving someone’s life as a gift, as if it holds no more significance than a new sweater. Your aunt gives you a necklace you hate? You don’t have a lifetime commitment to that necklace. You can throw it away, regift it, or donate it to a charity shop. You can let it languish in a dresser drawer for years while you forget about it. The regrettable truth is that people who give pets as gifts often maintain that same attitude toward animals. People who give pets as gifts rarely think beyond that ‘cute, fluffy fairy-tale’ ideal. Often, that’s because people have a certain vision in their heads— a concept of the ‘perfect pet’ and the adventures they want to have together. But just as you can’t control your children’s personalities, you don’t get to dictate who your pet turns out to be. For example, my Everlie is my best friend. She’s the perfect cat for me. She’s funny and cuddly and she loves to sleep on my face. We live to spend time together. Elliot, on the other hand, could not be more different. He’s cold, snarky, and indifferent; all he wants is to eat and be left alone. So, if I were designing my ‘perfect cat’, it wouldn’t be Elliot. But that doesn’t mean that his life is disposable or that he is any less a member of our family because, at the end of the day, animals have unique personalities just like humans do. When I adopted Elliot, I made a lifetime commitment to love a new, permanent member of this family— no matter who he turns out to be.



Yet, people who give pets as gifts often have a very different view. For example, let’s say you buy a kitten for your child because they love cats. You go through the typical spiel that parents often give their kids— ‘This pet is your responsibility, it’s up to you to feed him, look after him, etc.’ …but what little kid has ever faithfully kept up with their responsibilities? In many cases, it’s not long before a child gets tired of scooping the litter box or gets frustrated when they learn that their pet has bodily autonomy of his own. So, when your new furry friend doesn’t want to play right now or it’s not fun to have responsibilities, many kids simply give up. The responsibility then falls to the parents, who may not be able to keep up with the added chores themselves, and then— before you know it— that fluffy little ball of joy becomes homeless. Maybe they’re dumped in a shelter, like Everlie was as a kitten. Maybe they’re tossed on the side of the road like Elliot was when he was less than a month old. Either way, their stories rarely have a happy ending, which has caused many animal charities to launch campaigns begging families not to give pets as Christmas gifts. When you think about it in this light, it’s easy to see why giving pets as gifts is unethical. Because the truth is, as much as someone might want a pet, it’s not always the best idea. For you, the gift of a pet might be as simple as an unexpected delight at Christmas. But for that animal, it’s their life. Their relationship with you determines what kind of life they’re going to have— and that’s a lot more serious than wrapping paper, bows, and the delight of a ball of floof under the tree. So, if you want a floofy fairy-tale of your own— what can you do? Start by doing some research and speaking to animal charities so you can learn more about the type of pet that would be a good fit for you. Evaluate your time,


space, and resources and ask yourself if you’re capable of giving a pet the love and attention they need. If you’ve thoughtfully considered all of these factors, then you can take the next step and approach a rescue centre to find the companion that’s right for you. And when you cultivate a mindful and loving relationship with your pet, you’ll discover that their lifelong friendship is the greatest gift of all.

Not Just For

Christmas 9


convene in the reception room of Chequers. Boris greets them merely by gendered endearments, given that he has forgotten the names of all his six children.

ere at Wessex Scene we have received a leaked diary from Number 10 detailing how Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent his day last Christmas. 7am: A young Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson comes bounding into the master suite at Chequers, awaking (Alexander) Boris de Pfeffel Johnson from his slumber. Boris, characteristically dishevelled, jolts awake from a dream mumbling words that seem to be derived from the Iliad, or some other renowned dactylic hexameter. Of course this does not phase Carrie, as Boris is master at the art of circumlocution; frequently straying off on various tangents where it is doubtful even he knows where he will end up. 7:15am: Boris, now somewhat in this universe, dons a beanie, floral button-up, pair of shorts, and a pair of brogues; no, not for a fashion show but for his morning run. Out the door, Boris’ Close Protection Officers seem to drop further and further behind him; perhaps less owing to his political leanings and more hoping to be too far to intervene should someone seek to punish Johnson for this crime against fashion. 7:45am: Boris returns from his excursion unscathed and heads up to the master suite for his shower, ensuring that Winston Churchill’s Greatest Speeches (Vol. 2) and some Vivaldi are playing on the iPod Touch. 11:45am: As Boris pours himself another glass of BucksFizz, children of various ages - and mothers - begin to 10

13:00pm: Now seated, Boris as head of the table, rises to his feet to give his traditional Christmas lunch speech. Filled with light racism and straying further from reality by the second, all guests at the table begin to sip vigorously on their drinks to cope, the butlers struggling to keep up with the demand.

15:00pm: Boris and the family gather around the television. A fierce patriot, Boris demands silence in the room whilst Her Majesty gives her Christmas address. 16:00pm: Having become more and more inebriated by the hour, Boris announces that he is going for his ‘Christmas Cigar’; which those in his inner circle will know is merely a rouse so that Boris can attend to Ms Jennifer Arcuri, his not so secret mistress. 16:15pm: Carrie Johnson castigates a teenage child of Boris’ for using a plastic straw, straying off into platitudes about the environment and tortoises. 22:00pm: After a day of heavy drinking Boris is removed from his working office at Chequers, having made derogatory comments to the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom and threatening to build a bridge across the Channel to invade. 23:00pm: Much like the day started, Boris floats off into an alcohol dense sleep, reciting the Telegony – another one of the dactylic hexameters imprinted in Boris’ head following his boisterous study of Classics at Oxford University.



The Queen at Christmas: Charting the Course of a Tradition

he Queen has been a (fairly) regular part of my Christmases up and down the years. I don’t think I would describe me or my family as avid royalists, but, every so often, we watch the Queen’s speech and, much like the Monarch herself, it’s always been there in the background, mentioned on the news or online. My experience of the Queen’s Christmas broadcast is much like that of the monarchy as a whole. For a start, I am among the second generation of my family that was not alive under any other monarch than Elizabeth II, and part of the third generation to be born since the reign of her father, George VI. So it is a little difficult to chart a course into the past, to times when things were different. However, relative to the rest of the monarchy, the Christmas address is new. I say relatively new, compared to an institution whose function was set down in the 18th Century via the Glorious Revolution. The first Christmas address was broadcast in 1932, in the early days of the BBC’s Empire Service radio station, now known as the World Service, reaching 20 million people across the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Kenya, South Africa and India, preceded by greetings from around the Empire. From then on, the yearly broadcast became a feature of Christmas in the British Empire, until the death of George V in 1936. After his demise, no address was made in either 1936 or 1938. War, however, had a way of entrenching things. The Christmas’ of the Second World War were a chance for the monarchy to rise to the occasion, and play its intended role in uniting both the British metropole and its attendant imperial dominions. These broadcasts were deemed enough of a success to be continued after the war. But a problem was brewing. The idea of the royal Christmas address was to give the monarchy a chance to speak to its subjects, and to be known to them in a specific way; namely, as the figurehead of the British Imperial state. Thus, the notion of ‘one imperial family’ would be maintained. But the Empire was falling apart; India and Pakistan declared independence on 15th and 14th August 1947 respectively,


while Australia had been made independent de facto during the war. South Africa was on the path to secession from the Commonwealth. To make matters worse, Lord Altrincham’s now-famous criticisms were making life difficult for the Palace. Describing the Queen’s speeches to British Pathé as like hearing ‘a synthetic creature’ speaking, he expressed a not-uncommon sentiment that the Crown was alienated from its subjects. So, what to do? Well, what better way to bring the Queen and country closer together than to bring the Queen into the country’s living room? Television, a technology that had been widely available for several years, but had been neglected by the monarchy, promised to do just that. The first televised broadcast was made at 15:00 GMT, 25th December 1957, beginning an annual run that continues to the present. But today in 2020, the monarch speaks to the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who are the only nations to still air the speech. It is also now available online, and 2020 marked the first broadcast that was available to listen to on an Amazon Alexa. But what is next for the Christmas broadcast? If 2020’s viewing figures indicate anything, the second great crisis of Elizabeth II’s lifetime has further entrenched the status of the address as a seasonal institution. We might not give it our undivided attention, but we’d definitely notice its absence.




It’s not all doom and gloom! NTDs and the London Declaration WORDS BY BARNEY WHIFFIN IMAGE BY SAYLI JADHAV t’s easy to forget the vast amounts of progress which have been made to the world in recent times. It’s difficult to conceptualise the past, and to try and appreciate the relative luxury in which we live our lives. This isn’t helped by the news, which tends to focus on recent disasters rather than keeping us updated on long term achievements we’re making (I guess the same story every day doesn’t grab headlines). So, this article attempts to honour just how far we’ve come, and how much better things are going to get. One in seven people suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). They cripple countless people, costing the economy billions, and kill 170,000 people each year. NTDs are caused by a plethora of parasites and have a vast range of symptoms stretching from nuisance to nightmare. Some of these parasites infect babies and compete for nutrition, stunting growth and impairing intelligence. Some cause blinding eye diseases. Some cause horrific disfigurements. Some make people bedridden for months and damage internal organs. My personal least favourite (dracunculiasis) waits a year after infection before revealing its presence as a metre long worm inside your leg. Pulling it out takes weeks. I know none of this sounds too cheerful but stick with me here! Assuming we’re all agreed that NTDs need eradicating, there’s good news just around the corner. In 1985, there were 3,500,000 global cases of dracunculiasis. In 2015, only 22. What makes this even more impressive than it sounds is that NTDs have a preference for harming isolated communities lacking infrastructure and healthcare. The solution to eradication doesn’t pair well with this, as it involves giving medicine to every single person in every high-risk area around the globe (some of which are 500km from the nearest hospital). This requires millions and millions of doses of medicine over the course of decades,


and the planning and technology to distribute these globally. To get around this, a colossal collaboration was called for. Something which would showcase what the modern, industrialised production of medicine is capable of. Something which could provide free unlimited doses of medicine anywhere in the world. Or to put it another way, the biggest medical program in human history: the London Declaration. A promise to eradicate 10 NTDs forever. Organisations from every field are working together right now to achieve this. The plan was launched in 2012, and $18,000,000,000 has already been spent. In 2015 alone, these treatments reached >850,000,000 people. This is an incomprehensibly positive achievement and is drastically improving the welfare and happiness of so many people. And we’re only talking about one project, focused on one group of diseases. The work that is constantly happening all around us to improve every aspect of our lives is mind-boggling, and it deserves our thought and gratitude. Science, technology, medicine, infrastructure, education, all of it providing us with lives of happiness and luxury that our ancestors couldn’t have dreamed of. So don’t let the little stuff bother you because as a species, we’re giving ourselves a reason to celebrate every day.




The Continents at Christmas he festive season is such an allconsuming time, we get so wrapped up in what to get our weird aunt that we forget to look further than our little bubble. Just outside our door, is a rich and diverse globe, whose everyday is so different to ours. But look no further, as we take a quick stop in each continent for a sample of their Christmas magic!

Europe Jolabokaflod - Iceland A tradition for you avid readers! In World War II, paper was one of the few things in Iceland that was not rationed. As such, the nation took it upon themselves to give their loved ones books the night before Christmas, spending the time together lost in the pages of a new read. Translated literally as ‘book flood’, what could be better than spending your Christmas Eve snuggly wrapped up with a new book and some chocolate? Asia Simbang Gabi - Philippines If you’re one of those ‘Christmas should only be celebrated in mid-December’ types then look away now, as in the Philippines the festive season is celebrated from September until January. Simbang Gabi refers to the dawn masses that begin on the 16th December, with the final one taking place on Christmas Eve. This is to show their devotion to God, and of course, plenty of food is involved too! You are likely to also see parols, which are stars traditionally made of bamboo, rice paper and oil lanterns, representing the star that guided the Three Wise Men. Oceania Santa Parades - New Zealand Large parades around Christmas time are known all over


the world, but throughout the twentieth century, New Zealand was determined to outdo them all! Though they are now a little more regulated (boo!), the 1930s saw Santa enter by elephant, airplane and parachute. The man really can do it all! Antarctica Race Around the World Compared to the rest of the world, Antarctica at the best of times is a whole lot quieter, with Christmas being no exception. The residents here are researchers passing through on their studies, but this doesn’t stop them from making it home during the festive season. Workers at the American Amundsen/Scott Base created the tradition of racing around the pole on Christmas day. They use a variety of transport for the two-mile course, and on the 25th of December cross every time zone around the world! Santa, is that you? Africa A Year-Long Endeavour - Tanzania Across Africa, Christmas isn’t dissimilar from what we know in the UK: decorations, church services and a lot of food. So perhaps one of the bigger differences is in Tanzania, in which the head of the festive feast takes a little longer than a few hours in the oven. In January, families will buy a goat or cow which they spend the entire year fattening up, ready for slaughter on Christmas Eve. North America Elfapalooza - Mobile, Alabama Ever fancied yourself a Guinness World Record? Perhaps a trip across the pond is needed, as in recent years the residents of Mobile, Alabama, take it upon themselves to dress up as elves to try and break the record for ‘most Santa’s elves in one place’. Currently, the title is still held by Bangkok, but could this be their year? South America Chocolatada - Peru With Christmas spirit in the air, Peru leads the way in the act of giving. Chocolatada sees corporations big and small giving sweet treats to the more rural, disadvantaged communities of the region. Groups will queue up for their little package and with it, a reminder that they are not forgotten. 13




The Impact of the Festive Period on the Mental Health of Professional Footballers hristmas. What’s one word that comes to mind when you think about Christmas? Family, correct? Christmas is all about togetherness and spending time with your loved ones to celebrate the tradition. Though for footballers in England’s top four divisions, family comes second-place during the festive period. The festive schedule works as a treat for fans of the English football team, providing action-packed entertainment on a mostly daily basis. With that said, is this intense schedule fair on the players? You could make a case that the festive period in English football plays a pivotal role in the failure of the England national team at major tournaments. Prior to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England’s record on the international stage was poor. Finishing bottom of their group at the 2014 World Cup and prior to that, being knocked out by Italy in the Quarter-Finals at Euro 2012. Whilst there has been significant improvement in England’s performances, runners-up at the delayed Euro 2020 and fourth place at the 2018 World Cup, the reality is that England still lacks the grit to go on and triumph on the big stages. The reason for their constant, consistent shortcomings may be more obvious than first thought. The festive period in the top European leagues differs massively from the English Premier League. This season, the Spanish La Liga will take a planned hiatus from 19 December- 2 January. Meanwhile, Italian Serie A will take a break from 22 December and return on 6 January. In Germany, the Bundesliga will be on hiatus from 18 December until 8 January. In comparison, there will be no planned hiatus for footballers in the Premier League as matchday 14-21 has already been scheduled between 14


30 November-3 January. Footballers in England must not only endure a gruelling set of fixtures over the Christmas period but even more, there are no established breaks similar to that of the top European leagues at any point during the season. The Christmas schedule for Premier League teams has been an utter shambles in recent years. Liverpool’s title-winning 2019/20 season was a victim of the festive period chaos as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were forced to field two different teams for two fixtures which went ahead regardless of the fact that they clashed. With the Club World Cup taking place in Qatar, Liverpool’s 2019 festive period included an overseas trip to the 2022 World Cup hosts where they successfully won the triumph. Just days after their return from Qatar, they would then go on to face title rivals Leicester in a crucial showdown on Boxing Day. No remorse for the players, they were overworked by the scheduling nonsense which has been a constant in English football and needs addressing to protect the physical and mental health of the players. Along with Jurgen Klopp, who labelled the Christmas schedule as being ‘criminal’ in December 2019, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola ‘thanked’ the Premier League for their demanding Christmas fixture list in the 2019/20 season. The Spaniard wrote a letter to the Premier League which contained a strong sense of sarcasm as the Man City boss complained about the fact that his side had to play twice in the space of 48 hours. Complaining? Yes, but understandably so. To preserve the health of the players, it is unjust that they would have to play twice in two days. One may utilise the point of Premier League footballers being paid millions if they were attempting to argue that footballers can handle the Christmas period. Though when all is said and done, we must not forget that footballers are human and regardless of their salaries, their physical and mental health is still a priority.

Cup take place in the winter has jeopardised the flow of the Premier League’s festive schedule and could have severe implications for the structure of the league season from 2022 onwards. Yet again, it’s the players who must be focused on in this poetic mess of changes. It seems there is a pattern between the festive period and the 2022 Qatar World Cup, neither of the two takes the sanctity of the players into account. Football is nothing without the players. Overworking will inevitably lead to an increase in injuries which would cause more teams to suffer in the long term in relation to seasonal performances. Players matter, yet from the perspective of the system, the festive period and the 2022 Qatar World Cup would tell you otherwise. This article is a representation of the current situation in the footballing world. The problems presented by the relevant leagues and FIFA have been analysed whilst highlighting the opinions of top Premier League managers. The views of the footballers themselves have purposely not been addressed. Why? Because this is symbolic of the realities faced by footballers. They are not considered at a sufficient level by footballing authorities. Their voices are seemingly ignored by the governing bodies. The neglectful attitude towards footballers and their physical and mental health must change otherwise a higher number of players could suffer in the future, especially if plans for the biennial World Cup go ahead. Christmas should be a time for family and togetherness. Not forced, money-driven hunger for the authorities.

More chaos is guaranteed to be on the cards with the 2022 Qatar World Cup looming. The first ‘winter World Cup’ will see football’s biggest prize at stake between 21 November - 18 December. What this means for the festive period in the English Premier League remains unknown. Though what is clear is that the move to have the World




Around the World in 80 Festivals WORDS BY HANNAH GRIFFITHS IMAGE BY SAYLI JADHAV hen we think of festivities, it is almost guaranteed that most people, in the West at least, will think of Christmas. It is the most significant celebration in the British calendar, as well as for the many countries influenced by Christianity. But around the world, there are a plethora of festivals and holidays that pass many of us by. Every country, culture and religion will have their own celebrations and festivals, but these are just a few examples of some you may not know much about.

Holi (India; Nepal) Famed for its colourful street parties, Holi is a Hindu festival typically celebrated in Northern India and Nepal. It occurs during March at full moon and lasts between two and five days, celebrating the burning of the evil Holika. Legend states that she was enlisted to kill her nephew to prevent him from overthrowing his demonic father as king, and bonfires are often lit on the first day of the festival as a symbol of the fire used to kill Holika. The fun begins on day two: partygoers throw powder paint and colourful water at each other, often wearing white with the intention of it being stained in a rainbow of vibrant colours. By the end of it, whole towns are covered with no corner left untouched. It is a time of coming together, where differences are put aside in the aid of the biggest party in the Hindu calendar. Happy Holi!


Rosh Hashanah (International) Literally meaning ‘Head of the Year’ in Hebrew, this is the first high holy day in the Jewish calendar, starting in Autumn. It is a time of reflection of the past year and a celebration of the year to come. Jews of different denominations will celebrate differently, but in the Orthodox community, they will not use any technology, turn on lights or drive a car, instead visiting the synagogue to read scripture and pray for a good year. Families come together to enjoy sweet foods like apples and honey to signify having a sweet new year, and Challah [bread] is shaped in a circle to represent the never-ending cycle of life. It is one of the most important festivals of the year, dictating how the coming year will pan out, and even the least religious Jews will always make sure to honour this day. Shana Tovah!


Oktoberfest (Germany) Oktoberfest, which is colloquially known as Wiesn, is a German festival that consists of wearing Tracht, drinking ‘Maßen’ of beer and singing along to traditional Bavarian music. It originated in 1810 as a celebration of the marriage between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, leading to the festival site being named Theresienwiese (literally ‘Therese’s Meadow’.) It is the world’s largest Volksfest, typically bringing six million visitors to Bavaria’s capital every year. One of the highlights is a large parade which travels 7km across the city, ending at the fairground, where Weißwurst, pretzels, and Lebkuchen hearts can be enjoyed. Despite it being one of Germany’s most famous festivals, it is only officially celebrated in Munich in the last two weeks of September and the first week in October. It is the highlight of the year for the Munich locals and a large symbol of the city, and they very much enjoy being able to share their culture with the rest of the world. Prosit!

Fête du Vodoun (Benin) The Ouida International Voodoo Festival is unlike anything celebrated in Western culture. It is celebrated all over the country, but the main event happens in Ouida, where the chief priest of Vodoun travels from his temple along the slave road to the beach as a recognition of the tens of millions who lost their lives to the slave industry. It is initiated by the slaughtering of an animal, and different voodoo communities visit the site to honour their god, usually wearing white. Groups play ceremonial drums, dance, sing and drink gin. Elaborate wooden masks play a big role in the celebrations, representing the spirits of the dead, and children often chase wearers of the masks through the streets. Once the official festival is over, the party moves into the city where the dancing and music continue long into the night. Joyeuses fêtes!

The Gathering of Nations (USA) Happening on the fourth weekend in April in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this Native American Powwow is a coming-together of almost 800 tribes from across North America. They wear costumes that represent each of their own tribes, sharing their customs and rituals with one another. The highlight is a large dance competition, consisting of 36 categories with ages groups from ‘tiny tots’ to elders. There is also a regalia parade, where a procession of native horse riders travels through the festival to honour the connection between tribes and their horses. The entire weekend is filled with tribal music, which culminates in the stage 49 concert played by worldrenowned Native American artists. The entire weekend is a celebration of culture that has often been, and still is threatened, by modern American life. Tau Taino-Ti!

This whistle-stop tour of festivals merely scratches the surface of the celebrations happening across the globe every day. Maybe you’re now desperate to experience one of these, maybe you’re not, but let this inspire you to discover local culture wherever your next adventure may take you.



The Basic Gal’s Guide to

Celebrating Pumpkin Spice Latte Season ave you just seen the first autumn leaf flutter to the ground? Do you have pumpkin spice syrup instead of blood in your veins? Have you been counting the days since LAST YEAR’S pumpkin spice season? If any of these things describe you, then get ready to sit back, relax, and grab your signature PSL as we present to you… the Basic Gal’s Guide to Celebrating Pumpkin Spice Latte Season. Every true PSL babe knows that ‘autumn’ is mostly just a social construct. This is PSL Season and NOTHING ELSE. So, how do you celebrate in style? To find out, we talked to a Southampton student who really needs a personality trait other than Pumpkin Spice Lattes. (Remember the girl who ordered “black market” pumpkin spice syrup from the American coffee chain, Dunkin Donuts? …yeah, it’s the same student. And yes, she really needs to get a life). STEP ONE: Embrace The Struggle That is British PSL Season

you ever truly know? Your best bet is to grab both, sip awkwardly, and hope for the best. STEP TWO: Take Your PSL On a Day Out Is it really PSL season if you didn’t get some pics? For the ultimate celebration, pull out your ankle boots, your most Instagrammable sweater and hat, and head to a nearby pumpkin patch for a day out with your PSL. Don’t forget to give all your pics captions like, ‘Let’s give ‘em pumpkin to talk about!’ and ‘Pumpkin Spice, Spice Baby!’ Everyone who reads your captions will stand in awe of your originality. STEP THREE: Wonder What A Real PSL Would Taste Like Here in England, we’re free of things like added preservatives, unhealthy chemicals, and… you know… flavour. So, while you’re sipping your British PSL that mostly tastes like cough syrup, stalk some American Instagrammers and think about their gigantic 32-ounce PSLs that are brimming with extra pumpkin flavour and sugar. And, to really make matters worse, just remember that in America, you can get an extra-large Pumpkin Spice Latte with extra pumpkin, extra spice, and - be still my beating heart- EXTRA LIQUID SUGAR. Does it make any sense at all? Absolutely not. Would it give you diabetes? Without question. But it sure is fun to dream about! Celebrating PSL Season in England isn’t much, but…oh well! PSL and carry on, I guess!

The first thing to keep in mind is that celebrating PSL Season in England is HARD. We don’t really have the romanticised American weather with ‘autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place’. (See that Taylor Swift lyric I just casually wove in there!) Here in England, we go from ‘sweaty weather’ to ‘sweater weather’ in 2 seconds flat, with both seasons often overlapping throughout the same day. It’s been ‘wear a sweater in the morning and regret it in the afternoon’ weather since early September, so, it’s a bit tricky to really break out your chunky sweaters and really try to embrace the vibe. But the true PSL lover will do her best and forge ahead anyway, even while she battles such conflicting questions as: is it the day for a hot PSL or an iced one? How can




How to Throw

~ Order personalised invitations for your cat Nothing tells your cat you love her like expensive, personalised invitations she can’t read! To really show your cat how much you care, commission an artist to draw your cat and print invitations with her name, face, and birthday on them. (Bonus points if you can get the artist to draw your cat wearing a big pink hat and pearls!) Your cat will totally appreciate them and your friends and family will wonder if they should take your credit card. ~ Buy decorations

An Instagrammable nst

Birthday Party

For Your Cat re you a crazy cat lady at the age of only 23? Are you looking for a way to show the world that your cat is your only priority? There’s no better way to do so than to host an Instagrammable birthday party for your cat— preferably on Instagram Live! People who show you endless pictures of their babies are universally annoying, but no one feels the same way about pics of your cat! (…right?) No doubt, your friends and family have a limitless reserve of patience for the 5,000th picture of your floof - and your parents totally aren’t tired of hearing your jokes about ‘their grandchildren with fur’. But on the off-chance that everyone in your life ISN’T totally fed up with you, you can really seal the deal by throwing an Instagrammable birthday party for your cat!

Cat-friendly streamers, garland, and a printed birthday banner with her name on it should set the tone for the day! Don’t expect it all to go perfectly, though— you can’t put dangling ribbons in front of a cat and expect her not to release her inner wild animal! Just be sure to get some cute snaps for the ‘gram. To add some extra class to the party, be sure to buy some floof-sized floral paper plates— preferably those with a totally original message like, “I floofin’ love you!”— and fill them with a fancy mixture of lobster, tuna, and salmon treats that your cat would happily have eaten off the floor anyway. ~ Test your culinary skills Want to create a cat-friendly cupcake to spoil your floof on her special day? Head to the kitchen and whip up a concoction following one of the many ‘cat cupcake’ recipes on the internet. Get your hands smelly and deep in cheese, tuna, and— for a little garnish— a giant prawn on top. Your cat will totally appreciate all your effort and definitely won’t ignore the cupcake at all. So, there you have it, dear reader! The recipe for a perfect cat birthday party. Will it be a ton of effort? Absolutely. Will your cat appreciate it? Not in the slightest? Will your friends and family think you’re crazy? Without a doubt.

To bring you this step-by-step guide, we spoke to a Southampton student who cares more about her cats than a degree to hear about her real-life experience. (We also confirmed that her lecturers are very fed up with being shown cat pictures every time she sees them). So, without further adieu, we bring you her tried and true guide.





Which Celebrations are Worth Celebrating? he selection chocolate box. A celebration staple. Whether you’re a Roses at anniversaries or a Heroes for St. George’s Day, we all have a special tub and we all have a favourite treat within. For this magazine, Wessex Scene are investigating which of the chocolates in a Celebrations tub comes out on top, and which ones truly are worth celebrating.

Firstly, it’s important to note the discrepancies in the number of each chocolate that was available in the box. We bought our box at Portswood Sainsbury’s (£5 but only £3.99 in ALDI) with the hope of having equal number of all the available chocolates: Milky Way, Bounty, Mars, Snickers, Twix, Galaxy, Galaxy Caramel, and Maltesers Teaser. We were shocked by the results. While we understand there is usually less of the Galaxy chocolates (bougie and expensive), we were not expecting such a low amount of Bounty’s, especially when we often see these red tubs strewn with such chocolates, months old. What else were we to discover?


· Free Fall (which survived multiple three-story drops) · Bag Test (which remained molecularly sound after spending the day in a bag)

In this graph, the x-axis is time, measured in 30 seconds intervals, and the y-axis is level of destruction. As we can see, after ten minutes, both the Galaxy and the Maltesers Teaser were not visually disfigured by their time in the oven. The Galaxy Caramel didn’t take long to become a splodge (predictable) but surprisingly, it was the Mars that created the biggest pool. However after melting, the Milky Way, Bounty, Galaxy, and Mars lost their appeal and were not unanimously voted as ‘still tasty’.

THE EXPERIMENTS As well as finding out the most popular from our fellow students, we subjected the chocolates to a number of specialist experiments, each testing out something that affects our everyday enjoyment of snacks. The experiments we devised ran as follows: · · · · 20

Trial by Fire (which chocolates lasted best when subjected to the oven) Melty Blind Taste Test (which tastes the best once its texture is removed) Freezer Test (which were the most succulent after getting iced) Senseless Sniffing (which one was the most desired based on smell alone)

For this test, we melted down each chocolate and spoon fed it to our subject. They would rate the taste out of ten (ten being literal perfection), with the fragilities of textures out of the question. While they made some guesses as to what each were, the Mars, Milky Way and Galaxy Caramel all got confused with each other. From this test, we saw that pure chocolate comes out on top.


The ‘Free Fall’ experiment required the chocolates (in their wrappers) to be thrown from a third-storey window into the paved garden below, three times. After the third go, we unwrapped them and assessed the damage. A score of ten is not very good in this experiment, as it means the chocolate was completely disfigured. Most surprisingly, the Galaxy Caramel did not survive. At first glance, it looked fine, and then it slowly fell apart before our very eyes. The Maltesers Teaser and Mars fared the best in this experiment, with only minor damage and chipping sustained. Most chocolate boxes are enjoyed during the later months, but what also comes with the winter? Cold weather. The best Celebrations chocolate would have to be enjoyed whether it’s come straight from the box or been sat in the freezer for nine hours. Our four test subjects rated how well they thought the chocolate had frozen, though there are some discrepancies with the results as one test subject has very invalid opinions. Generally, the chocolates with a chewier caramel did not fare very well from their time in the freezer. The best snacks are ones that travel well. For this test, we put all the chocolates into a small net bag, and then threw it in the bottom of a rucksack for an entire day. It took trips with books, bottles, and even a Sainsbury’s shop. We judged how much damage each bar sustained, with ten being lots of damage. As we suspected, the Galaxy Caramel spurt its goods into its wrapper, and the other softer chocolates became very squished and disformed. The Maltesers Teaser sustained no damage whatsoever. This experiment required test subjects to wear a blindfold and listen to loud Dwarven rock music. The only sense they were required to use was the sense of smell and, after smelling around the chocolates, they would say which ones they desire based on said smells. For some bizarre reason, Snickers had the most desirable smell, with all test subjects pointing it out as one they really wanted (one even cockily claiming it was a Galaxy despite that not being true).

THE RESULTS So, after all that, which Celebrations are worth celebrating? Well, that’s a question. Judging on which chocolate fared the best across all of the experiments, our conclusion is pointing towards the answer that has been staring at us this whole time. You. The public. You already know.




The Battle for Christmas Number One: Does It Matter Anymore? escribed by the Official Charts Company as the ‘ultimate prize’ in the music industry, the battle for the UK Christmas Number One has remained a staple of the festive season since the chart’s inception in 1952. With the Christmas period naturally seeing an increase in music sales, it is not too uncommon for big-name artists to start pumping out new material conveniently just before the holiday period. However, as the music industry continues to evolve in the era of streaming and with social media platforms like TikTok driving listening trends, is the Christmas Number One a true reflection of the current musical culture of the year? By taking a look at the history of the Official Singles Chart and at recent trends in the consumption of music, it could be argued that the battle for the Christmas Number One has in fact never been more relevant and offers a unique insight into how the music industry is reforming into the future. In the wake of the drawn-out death of the TV talent show and with it the yearly production of short shelf-life X Factor winners, a new generation of novelty acts has emerged from the shadows - most notably the recent success of internet personality LadBaby and his sausage roll-themed charity singles. While some may see the encroachment of a social media influencer into the field of pop as a sign of the irrelevancy or ‘dumbing down’ of the Charts, a look back at past Christmas chart-toppers reveals an eclectic mix of acts that can hardly be described as a ‘Musician’s Hall of Fame’. In 2000, the virtuosic tenor performing under the name ‘Bob the Builder’ graced the chart, while Take That were denied the Number One spot in 1993 by the unsung 22


WORDS BY OLIVER PICKEN IMAGE BY SONY MUSIC musical prodigy Mr Blobby. Recent years have also seen social media campaigns forcing unexpected songs into the chart, with the most notable example being Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ which became the Christmas Number One in 2009. A less successful campaign to oust the X Factor winner the following year promoted John Cage’s 1953 composition of four and a half minutes of pure silence. Sausage roll anyone? While streaming figures have been included in the total sales of a single since 2014, a physical or digital sale is still worth many times more than the streaming conversion. When examining streaming figures in isolation, the established Christmas hits by the likes of Mariah Carey and Wham dominate completely, with all of the Top 10 spots in 2020 taken by Christmas songs. This figure would appear to better reflect consumer listening around the Christmas period by taking into account the volume of individual listens and not just initial sales. However, this appears to be a very recent trend - Ed Sheeran’s Number One ‘Perfect’ dominated both streaming and traditional sales back in 2017, with only a fine sprinkling of festive hits in the Top 10 of that year. Amongst the many record labels racing to produce the best selling song of the year, recent trends have shown that Christmas is the perfect time of the year for the release of charity singles, which may for many consumers constitute their only purchase of music that year. For this year’s chart, however, tallying the streaming figures may be more reliable than just accepting the domination of LadBaby. After all, these novelty songs never appear in the charts when just streaming figures are considered, as unsurprisingly very few people want to willingly listen to a song about sausage rolls for the third year running.



Our Alternative Celebrations Playlist or some reason, the closing of the year seems to be a time when everyone becomes particularly cheesy in their music choices. Disgusting.For those of you who may not want to have the sweet sounds of Mariah Carey drilled into your ears over and over again this festive season, we at The Edge have graciously put together our favourite alternative celebration songs - so you can put your headphones on and shut the world out. Hooray!

Dafna, Cameron Desnoes - ‘8NIGHTS’ Evocative of love in the holidays, this quiet song is a must-have on my Christmas playlist each year. The lyrics are a warm hug of wintery sensations, reminding me of evenings at my parents’ home; our family culture of shared dinner times and the gift of a cup of tea on a cold day. Though it was originally written as a Hannukah love song (hence, ‘8Nights’), Dafna & Desnoes’ smooth voices fit beautifully with the general Winter holidays, with innocence like untouched snow reflecting the wholesomeness of spending time with a new or old love in December. I love the magic and hope that the song inspires too; ‘The moon is listening / The stars are whispering / I’ll hold you ‘til the end of June.’ It is undeniable that winter celebrations hold a certain kind of magical glow, and Dafna captures that perfectly, with her reference to hopes for the New Year. The song was created by chance - Desnoes discovered Dafna’s music on Tiktok, and upon sending her a gushing DM was accepted as the perfect candidate to realise her dream of writing a contemporary Hannukah song which captured Dafna’s own love of the celebration with her family. All in all, this is an essential addition to the Alternative Celebrations playlist - just like new pj’s and a hot water bottle, it will make your heart warm and happy. 24



Low - ‘Just Like Christmas’ Any alternative Christmas playlist wouldn’t be complete without a slightly melancholy festive tune to bring down the mood. Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas’, from their 1999 EP entitled Christmas, is just that. Praised by many for its slightly depressing tone, ‘Just Like Christmas’ perfectly encaptures the feeling of trying to get into the Christmas spirit as a (perhaps slightly cynical) adult; the bittersweet lyric ‘You said it was like Christmas, but you were wrong / wasn’t like Christmas at all’ feels more and more apt the older you get. With no over-the-top catchy chorus, an organ instead of Mariah Carey-esque church bells, and sadly nostalgic lyrics, this song provides the perfect backing track for any moody individual who is sick of hearing Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ for the hundredth time in a supermarket.

Majestica - ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past’


Perhaps metal isn’t a genre usually associated with catchy Christmas songs, yet Swedish four-piece Majestica makes it work with this delightful 5-minute masterpiece from their 2020 album A Christmas Carol; a concept album based around Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name. Lyrically, this song focuses on Ebeneezer Scrooge’s encounter with the first of the ‘three ghosts’ who aim to turn around his miserable ways. Heavily interpolating fellow banger ‘Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’ for the verses works wonders, as guitar licks and rapid drumming lead up to an utterly monumental chorus that will surely be stuck in your head right up to the festive period this year. Frontman Tommy Johansson’s vocals are crucially what allow this tune to be taken to a higher level; switching fluidly from vocals softer than a Cushelle toilet roll to a melodic yell that any metal fan can appreciate. In fact, the whole album is certainly worth a listen - whether you are a fan of the original story or not! A deluxe version of the album is also set to release this year, with the lead single ‘Glory of Christmas’ already released into the world.





In Defence Of: Christmas Films


n our eclectic mix of Christmas traditions, Christmas films are perhaps the most modern of the bunch. Happily sitting alongside the food, carols and family gatherings, they occupy a unique place in the holiday scene. Said unique place is, more often than not, the living room which acts as the central hub in which the festive activities are hosted. The roots of the Christmas film are undoubtedly entangled with the idea of sitting down to watch something at Christmas as a group. We are encouraged to treasure our time together - whether that be with family, friends or even pets - and put aside day to day divides. I would argue that the Christmas film does this better than any other tradition. For starters, it lets the group relax and share the enjoyment of something. If the film is a Christmas classic, such as the poignant picture, The Snowman, or a modern favourite, like the Nativity series, it can allow for some good-natured nostalgia and cheerful bemusement as some of the scenarios are rewatched (the brilliance of David Tennant as twin teachers in Nativity 2 for instance). The wide appeal of Christmas films, thanks to a variety of plots for everyone, means that people have a shared enjoyment in their shared film. Some Christmas films have been labelled ‘cheesy’ in the past. Whilst I am not about to challenge that, I am just going to reason that those kinds of Christmas films are tongue-in-cheek and are not meant to be taken seriously. They were designed to be a fun Christmas-filled package. People can cut between watching them and enjoying each other’s company socially. The Quality Street tin can be passed around and people can settle down to a simple group activity.



WORDS BY SUSANNA ROBERTSON-SHEATH IMAGE BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES Speaking of which, have you ever heard of killing two birds with one stone? Christmas films do just that. Depending on the film you watch, other holiday traditions and messages may be incorporated. The library of festive literary adaptations not only have the beautiful (frequently Victorian) imagery but also the messages and intent of the original prose. A certain Dickens novella cannot help but spring to mind, alongside its miserly protagonist. Most people’s first exposure to the traditions and stories is likely to have come from Christmas films. The Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and even It’s a Wonderful Life were all adapted from books but immortalised in the Christmas canon because of the films they became. Therefore, you cannot help but respect the Christmas film for its ability to encapsulate a legacy of stories, aesthetics, morals, carols and songs into one form of media. Through Christmas films, you are able to enjoy festive music as and when featured. Many of the most famous Christmas tracks stemmed from films. Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ was written for 1942’s Holiday Inn and later featured in the 1954 film White Christmas. Likewise, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ made its debut in Meet Me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland. There are other examples of this, even becoming a two-way street with 2019’s Last Christmas which used the titular Wham! song, alongside others, to soundtrack its run-time. Therefore, as with other festivals and seasons, the Christmas film gives and takes from other pieces of media to enrich its output; serving as a celebration of Christmas and more. Thus, as I defend the Christmas film, I do not see the medium departing from its unique place in the holiday scene. If anything, streaming services and lockdowns have only cemented it further.




alloween is a compulsive part of the cinematic calendar, yielding horror icons, jump scares and creepy music every October. Three Edge writers offer their favourite picks to embrace the spooky season.

Coraline (2009) I suppose this film did its job as a creepy children’s tale because when I first saw it as a child it scared the living daylights out of me. Stop-motion animation always gave me the creeps but, coupled with the strange sharp and jagged shapes of Coraline’s world, it sent me straight into the uncanny valley. Not to mention that the entire premise of the film (that the people you love most and depend on in the place you feel safest can have doppelgangers who want to eat your soul) is pure nightmare fuel. Growing up and out of my fear of Coraline has given me a newfound appreciation for this film that I think as I child I overlooked due to its sustained terror. I can now appreciate the purple and blue colour palettes, the time and love that clearly went into the animation movements and aesthetic, and the rich history of The Beldam that seems to transcend the plot. I go back to Coraline every spooky season, and as such, I think justifies itself as my favourite Halloween film. 28



Corpse Bride (2005) Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge Tim Burton fan. Maybe it’s the tattoo-sleeve dedicated to him, the constantly defending all of his work in terms of quality (don’t fight me), or just anything - there’s an endless rewatchability to most of his films and Corpse Bride is undeniably his best Halloween caper (and he’s made a few of them for sure). Steeped as a swing-jazz musical, a story washed in the iconic Burton-gothic style, and of course supported by everyone’s favourite duo: Helana Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp; Corpse Bride is the perfection of the Burton formula and it’s beautiful in every single way. It’s a unique Halloween film that’s perfect for everyone and fit for all the family. It may lack chills and scares, but it packs a lot of heart, emotion, and subtle comical “horror” that guarantees it as a Halloween film that always goes down a treat. Plus, nothing says Halloween like crying in unison with your friends and family at the final scene of the film.


Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998) Scooby-Doo has been entertaining children for decades; everyone has surely consumed this franchise through one of its many renditions or mediums. There’s one entry however that sets itself apart: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. It follows the mystery gang reuniting on a remote island in the hopes of discovering more than just a villain in a costume, and they certainly get much more than they bargained for. This 1998 film reignited a new era for fans by giving the franchise’s usual ‘whodunnit’ formula a revitalizing change of pace in order to raise the stakes, creating a much darker story (therefore beautifully suited for the Halloween season). The film fully commits to its darker tone right from the start, with richly detailed gothic backgrounds and truly menacing looking ‘monsters’. Such details progressively become more gruesome and Halloween-esque towards the climax of the film. Even though the threat is more intimidating, the well-loved characters don’t feel out of place and remain as their old selves but with a little more opportunity to flesh each other out. These elements paired with its vastly talented cast and outstanding soundtrack make a genuinely enjoyable film perfect for the spooky season!





n our eclectic mix of Christmas traditions, Christmas films are perhaps the most modern of the bunch. Happily sitting alongside the food, carols and family gatherings, they occupy a unique place in the holiday scene. Said unique place is, more often than not, the living room which acts as the central hub in which the festive activities are hosted. Home Alone: Lost in New York (1992) Chris Columbus’ Home Alone is most certainly a Christmas classic but I would also argue also that its sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, falls into the same category. It includes everything that makes the original such a heartwarming, fun watch and astronomically upscales it. This time Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is once again estranged from his family in the Christmas period... but in the middle of New York! If the original could be described as a 90s McDonald’s meal, this would be the SuperSized version. It takes place largely in the Big Apple’s rather grand The Plaza Hotel; decorated to the point where you could merely pause the screen at any point and be instantly reminded of the film’s festive setting (an essential for any good Christmas film).



While Kevin’s pain-inflicting traps upon the ‘Wet Bandits’ are an obvious source of hilarity, the comedy ‘stand-out’ has to go to the glorious Tim Curry as Mr. Hector. In one of perhaps his finest, most underrated roles, his bumbling persona combined with frankly bizarre mannerisms makes him simply a joy to watch. Sometimes the sequels can be better!


It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


Is this the cliche choice? Yes. Is this the pretentious choice? A little. Is there a reason why it’s so popular and beloved? Absolutely. The genius of It’s a Wonderful Life is that it isn’t a Christmas film until the very end (similar to Green Book). James Stewart radiates warmth and optimism for a period that just saw the end of the most gripping war in the history of the world, charting a life for himself in his sleepy little town. It’s only when the cruel Mr Potter (an unredeemed Scrooge) takes away all of George Bailey’s bank’s money that Stewart sinks into despair, entering an alternate universe where he never exists. Here he learns of all the good things he has done, leading to his famous sprint back home in the snow to reunite with his family and be saved by all the people whose lives he had bettered. Available in black and white and in colour, Frank Capra’s gem of a film is immortal in its seasonal warmth and tears of happiness.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Why does every single festive film always portray the best Christmases as idyllic and calm? The holidays are a time for getting together with your chaotic family and riding the wave of whatever mayhem comes your way. Enter the truest depiction of the winter holidays: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.



Oh, Clark Griswold Jr. Nothing is ever going his way as his planned festive party descends into anarchy. But despite this pandemonium, at its heart, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has the heart and soul of a Christmas movie. Learning that, even if the tree burns down or the lights decorating the roof won’t win you any awards, it’s the family and who you celebrate with that matters (just don’t use the film as a blueprint for your festivities and you’ll be okay). But at the end of the day, it’s just a comedic masterpiece from the 1980s that you can sit down and watch with your family, knowing exactly which one of the Griswold’s everyone is. 31




f you’re anything like me, then you love to snuggle up with a book over the Christmas holidays. In those quiet moments before dinner or bed, or in that weird limbo between boxing day and new year, I love to grab a book - and extra points if it was a gift! I wanted to share some of my recommended holiday reads so that you can feel the joy this year.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens What a classic! Though it may not seem like a page-turner, if you can commit to it, the story is worth your while. Though you may have read it at school, I say give it another try! There’s a reason the Muppets made a movie of it. The fantastical travels through time in Scrooge’s life really transport you, and the roast turkey at the end makes me so happy every time. This book reminds me of the importance of selflessness, and giving at Christmas time; to charity, to family, to strangers and always with love! The Golden Compass Trilogy - Phillip Pullman Though written for children, the Golden Compass trilogy can bring out the adventure in all of us. Strange things are happening in Oxford, and in her quest to find out what is going on, Lyra finds herself wound up in far more nefarious matters. This Wintery trilogy will pull on your heartstrings and take you to strange snowy lands. It is an enthralling tale, and one of my favourite stories of all time - which makes it a perfect candidate for Christmas reading!! The nostalgia and awe of these books are what puts them on this list



The Greatest Store in the World - Alex Shearer As a young child, this was one of the first books I read all the way through… and then read again, and again! The magic and whimsy of the story of Geraldine, Livvie and Angel, told through Livvie’s perspective totally enraptured me. As a child, what could be better than living in a department store! It has since been made into a film, which I haven’t tried (I don’t want to ruin the fun!), but I was given this book second-hand by an Aunt, which makes me love it even more. My copy at home is bent and folded and well-thumbed - it shan’t be leaving me anytime soon! My love of this story was definitely helped by the fact it was a gift, so perhaps I will regift it one day. The Hunting Party - Lucy Foley Having a quiet New Years’ Eve? Foley’s characters certainly aren’t! This book is one of my favourite kinds of stories closed community murder mysteries (yes, I also love Cluedo). The twists and turns to the plot are ENDLESS! The story is told through a rotation of the main characters’ perspectives so I promise you’ll never guess the ending! The snowy, isolating setting of the Scottish Highlands definitely helped this book make it to the list because from the 27th-30th of December, we all feel rather disconnected from reality! I hope that at least one of these books makes it into your holiday reading roster this year and that you thoroughly enjoy it!




My Dream New Year’s Eve: London Fireworks WORDS BY LUCY MAGGS IMAGE BY AYLA FAZIOLI


ver since I can remember, I’ve loved fireworks - the bundles of people in woolly hats and gloves, holding warm cups of tea and mulled wine and looking up at the sky never fails to give me that warm fuzzy feeling. As an owner of three cats, I realise it is slightly out of character to love this loud and boisterous event, however one bang and one burst of colour makes me feel like an excited child again. I even go home every November to watch my little village’s Fireworks Night, with more anticipation than Christmas. New Years Eve fireworks are no exception - I have never seen any in person, but after the countdown, sips of prosecco and an awkward performance of Auld Lang Syne, I stand in silence and watch the televised fireworks over the London Eye. One day I would love to see them in person, and actually see a choreographed dance of colours to music celebrating the year. To be in such a great mix of people, all looking up at the sky, would be something I would never forget. However, my idyllic view of my New Year’s Eve does not blind me to the downsides - travelling to London for me is fairly easy, but the journey back amongst all the crowds would be a nightmare. I also tend to get quite nervous with preplanned events and whether I’ll be thirsty, or hungry, or I’ll need the bathroom! So, in my ideal world, I would have an extravagant hotel booked in the city for the night and absolutely no worries. The event itself would make everything worth it for me. What I love about fireworks are their immediacy - there’s no time to think about something else if you are paying attention to what’s above you. To have this on such a larger scale, in such a pretty part of London, would be mesmerising. Last year, as well as fireworks, there were drones flying around in amazing formations and shapes over the O2. This was arguably as impressive as the perfectly timed fireworks that had preceded them. Hopefully, they will become a regular occurrence and included in the annual celebration, but if not they are definitely included in my hypothetical perfect New Year’s Eve night out! Of course, as well as the swarm of people around me I wouldn’t actually be alone - my family would be together, all of us shivering and muttering complaints, and all of it falling away as the Big Ben chimed. My mum would reveal a small bottle of prosecco she’s hidden the whole day, and we would clumsily cross our arms to sing vague noises in our rendition of Auld Lang Syne, all in front of the Thames and the smoke below the dazzle of banging and fizzing. 34


In Criticism of Christmas Carolling WORDS BY MARTHA LUKE IMAGE BY WALT DISNEY


efore we embark on this journey together, it is very important that I make this distinction: I enjoy Christmas carols as an auditory experience, and I absolutely value the small Christmas eve carol services which I attend with my grandmother. What I am talking about here is Christmas carolling. As in, door to door, ‘bring us some figgy pudding,’ once-you-open-the-door-you-can’t-escape carolling. It is almost as bad as being sung Happy Birthday except for the fact that -if you really wanted- you could slam the door in their faces, which you cannot do on your birthday. Though it is not as popular in the UK as it is in the US, we are not immune. I have seen it done; mostly in cities or on larger/main roads. I don’t understand why it is considered acceptable to go door to door with your mediocre village choir and sing badly, and then demand money. Perhaps I am just a grinch, but I think it would properly ruin my evening to open the door to a fully costumed operatic ensemble. And don’t think I can’t see you peering around behind me into the house, eyeing up the festive decorations, and judging the pile of presents under the tree (and the wrapping, no doubt). It’s such an invasion of privacy! Perhaps next time I’ll leave the latch on, and stare creepily through the tiny crack at the group until the youngest member cries... Too far? It’s not just me either - a lot of older people are unaccustomed to and intimated by uninvited visitors. It’s not fair to turn up and expect to be welcomed or expect donations. Older people may feel more pressured to give as well, which is unfair; perhaps they only have a £20 note and no small change. Furthermore, it’s completely non inclusive for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. There’s no way to tell from the outside of a house whether or not your Christian carols are appropriate. All in all I understand that many enjoy singing and sharing the joy at Christmas time, and I don’t look down on that. I just think it would be better if we all knew our place. By all means, busk in the town centre or put on a little service in an outdoor/public (or even better, private) space. But for the love of all things tinsel, leave everyone else alone!




F B . C OM / W S C E N E F B . C OM / TH E E DG E S U S U @OF F IC IAL W E S S E X S C E N E @TH E E D G E S U S U