The twelve days of Christmas 3: Spikey plants

Humans are odd. This truism is at its truest over Christmas, when we gorge ourselves on food we don’t particularly like, surround ourselves with people we know full well we’ll argue with, listen to music that at any other time of the year would be considered unfit for human ears due to being jangly jangly crap, and drag a large, prickly tree into the house to decorate with small sparkly objects.

This last is particularly odd; every year the ritual of ‘decorating the tree’ (i.e. arguing about where the lights should go, being perplexed by the existence of toadstool shaped decorations, and emerging with multiple stab wounds to the hands) makes me feel more and more like I’m living in some kind of twisted anthropologist’s nightmare. I won’t bore you with the story of where the Christmas tree tradition came from – not least because I haven’t bothered to look it up – but I imagine there’s a vaguely rational explanation somewhere in the mingled pasts of Christianity and paganism. Possibly involving Norway.

However, the mania for spikey Christmas plants seems to be spreading, going by the confusing presence at Hereford Christmas market of a stall selling something implausibly called a “Christmas cactus”. This got me thinking about the heights of ridiculousness to which this epidemic is, without exaggeration, definitely going to take us within the near future…

Christmas Cactus

Slowly but surely, this day is approaching.

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