Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Very Rees-Mogg Christmas C is for "Christingle"

I confess that oranges and I have never seen eye to eye. As a youth the pleasures of pith escaped me and rind was known to bring me out in a rash. To make matters worse a maiden great-aunt, whose husband had absconded with a Dutch ski champion, decided that the quickest route to the conclusion of a broken heart, was to move as far away from snow as was feasibly possible. She acquired an orange grove in the 'Algarve' and I spent an awkward summer there in the late nineteen eighties, patiently trying to explain to Portuguese labourers how best to pick a fruit and place it in a barrel on the back of a mule. Their singular failure to master even one word of English in the nine weeks I was there, shaped many of my views on the question of the then EEC and I have not been able to look at a donkey in quite the same way since.

The colour orange, unlike blue, has had a somewhat promiscuous relationship with different political movements over the years. It has been associated with socialists, white supremacists, Unionists, liberals and 'anarchists'. Just as one would never trust one's wife if she were to flit about a cocktail party chatting to every willing man, one should never put faith in a colour that cannot make its mind up.

And so to 'Christingle', an event that has crept into the Christmas calendar and is now inextricably linked in many people's minds with badly decorated fruits, poorly tied ribbons and The 'Church' of England's Yuletide celebrations. As with so many other topics in this series "Christingle" is an invention, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the birth of the Christ child. Oranges are barely mentioned in the New Testament and one cannot quell the doubt that this entire 'child-friendly' sing-song was invented by a citrus salesman. Avoid it. And stick to apples instead.

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