"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"
Christmas Film World Cup Semi Finals are underway and we really are in the business end of the countdown to Christmas now. Home Alone takes on Elf in the first semi final. Vote here!
You now have limited shopping opportunities to get yourself ready for the big day. If you find yourself unexpectedly facing cooking responsibilities, we can provide you with an easy to follow guide on how to make a perfect Christmas dinner which even has an accompanying video. The timetable for Christmas day and portion guide is especially useful for the first timer!
Christmas is almost upon us and while the etymology of the word Christmas itself seems fairly obvious, maybe there are some others that remain a mystery, why not join our resident word sleuth Charly Taylor as he investigates the meaning and origin of some of our favourite Christmas words in our Interesting Etymology Christmas Special
The Spanish Christmas Lottery
For those of you living in Spain who may not have experienced this cultural behemoth before, we have provided a handy guide to help you understand exactly what is going on as school children sing numbers on your TV for hours on end and no one seems to find anything else the slightest bit important.....
On the final Thursday before Christmas America encourages companies to hold their Christmas parties. It is called National Re-Gifting Day as research shows 40% of gifts distributed at office parties are given to someone else without any use.
The British Council and BBC have produced this class and video to explore the concepts of giving and receiving. A full hour class with worksheets and associated video activity. Literally perfect for that final Thursday before term finishes, don't you think?
Forefather's Day (U.S)
On the anniversary of the pilgrims landing on the shores of North America, people across the United States remember the story of those who escaped persecution in Britain to find freedom and opportunity in the new world.
The group set sail in two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell but the Speedwell was abandoned during the voyage and the group made landfall in the Mayflower on December 21 1620. The anniversary was incorrectly marked as December 22 when the Gregorian calendar was adopted.
Seven descendants of the Mayflower founded the Old Colony Club in 1769 to honour their forefathers and by 1880 the tradition was observed across the country. After the Civil War, President Lincoln announced Thanksgiving as the official day of celebration and Forefathers' day declined in popularity.
Mathematics Day (India)
A day to celebrate the birth of the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Regarded as a genius, his birthday is celebrated across India with numerous educational events. In 2017 The Ramanujan Math Park in Kuppam was opened on this day.
Ramanujan was born in 1887 and by the age of twelve, despite no formal education had developed many theorems on his own and excelled at trigonometry.
He ran away from home at the age of 14 to enrol in Pachaiyappa college in Madras and despite his outstanding gifts in maths, could not complete his degree as he was not up to standard in other subjects. His abilities got him noticed however and by 1914 he made his way to Trinity College Cambridge. By 1917 he was a member of the London Mathematical Society and the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918. Sadly, he died in 1920.
Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for Srinivasa Ramanujan here
The BBVA have a great resource on his life including a wonderful animated introductory video on his work and life here.
A wonderful 50minute documentary on his life (subtitled in Spanish) is available on YouTube.
National Short Person Day (US)
Once again, the Americans have found a surreal festival to give a day to, this time, with National Short Person Day.
Here are some interesting facts to consider on this day:
5% taller than our ancestors
Considering the average young adult is healthier than their ancestors 100 years ago, it makes sense that todays adults are about 5% taller. However, there is significant variation across the world, as some countries saw a very different change for men and women. For example, in South Korea, the mean height for women increased by 14% versus 9% for men. And in the Philippines, male height increased by around 5% versus only 1% for women.
4 feet 11 inches – the average adult in Bolivia
Bolivia has the shortest people in stature in the world, as its population’s height average is around 4 feet, 11.5 inches tall when including both genders. The country is one of the poorest in South America, with one in three children under the age of five affected with chronic malnutrition, often leading to below average heights. Genetics and hormonal factors are also seen as culprits as well, with Bolivian girls being more affected than boys. Data also showed that 42% of babies had short height at birth.
30% more susceptible to skin cancer
Because they’re so close to the sun! Really! Being short carries a reduced risk of skin cancer according to data gathered on 5.5 million people born between 1938 and 1991 with heights ranging from 3 feet 3 inches to 7 feet 6 inches. Swedish academics found that people of above average height were up to 30% more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer. So if you’re short, don’t be afraid of standing in the literal shadows of people taller than you. It’s good for your health!
The First High Heels
Queen Elizabeth I was painted wearing high heels in 1595 making her the first person to be documented wearing these fashion icons.
December 22nd in History
1965 – In the United Kingdom, a 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) speed limit is applied to all rural roads including motorways for the first time.
1990 – Lech Wałęsa is elected President of Poland.
2018 – A tsunami caused by an eruption of Anak Krakatau in Indonesia kills at least 430 people and injures almost a thousand more.
1858 – Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer and educator (d. 1924)
1887 – Srinivasa Ramanujan, Indian mathematician and theorist (d. 1920)
1949 – Maurice Gibb, Manx-English singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2003)
1949 – Robin Gibb, Manx-English singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2012)
1962 – Ralph Fiennes, English actor
1943 – Beatrix Potter, English children's book writer and illustrator (b. 1866)
1989 – Samuel Beckett, Irish author, poet, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1906)
2002 – Joe Strummer, English singer-songwriter (b. 1952)
2014 – Joe Cocker, English singer-songwriter (b. 1944)
Kate is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Working as an elf in a year round Christmas store is not good for the wannabe singer. However, she meets Tom there. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true.
An instant classic, from 2019, so not eligible for previous competitions, the committee has awarded the film a wild card seeding. Featuring the music of George Michael and using London as it does so well on screen, as a Christmas backdrop, this captures the essence of a Christmas movie so well it is a scandal it has not got better exposure.
Last Christmas made it to the 2022 Quarter Finals before losing to Die Hard.
"Driving home for Christmas" by Chris Rea captured the essence of the feeling of making that drive home in time for Christmas as the traffic and weather attempts to deny you the joys of getting your "feet on holy ground"
"Last Christmas" by Wham is a permanent fixture on Christmas play lists worldwide and Wham signed the royalties to a famine charity. The song has reached the Semi Final and Quarter Final stages but suffered shock exits in the last two events.
Lost Clauses version