Have you ever seen a Christmas tree go up in flames? If not, I highly recommend it. In many ways it’s similar to the time at university when I accidentally leaned into a candle, in that there’s a bright flash of fire and a really loud fizzing sound. Of course, with the Christmas tree the burning smell isn’t quite so eye-watering. And you don’t have to walk around for weeks pretending your really frizzy short patch is a deliberate style choice.
This weekend was Twelfth Night, or the day that Christmas officially dies. I was glad to see the back of it. It’s not that I had a bad one. In fact it was great. At one point I got through at least two whole truckles* of cheese, a full tin of Quality Street, and the entirety of The Miniaturist (TV adaptation, not book. I’m not superhuman) in a day. It’s just that as soon as Christmas is over I want all reminders of it to be gone. I mean, it’ll be at least six months before we see the Coca Cola advert again (barring some moments of weakness on Youtube) so why prolong the pain? If it was up to me, I’d rip off the festive bandaid before the echoes of Auld Lang Syne have even faded.
So a proper Twelfth Night celebration felt like it would be right up my street. I’ve looked into the history of the thing I went to, and it seems to be practically non-existent. The closest I could get to any info is that it might be a West Cornwall tradition called either Degol Stul, Nos Lowen, or – boringly – just Twelfth Night. All I really knew from a Facebook event I stumbled across was there would be a bonfire, and I love bonfires so much I should probably be on some kind of government list, so I went.
There was a whole day of activities including mask making and music sessions. I took a punt and didn’t go to those. I’ve been burned too many times before by the promise of ‘free craft sessions’ which turn out to be for the under-10s. Then I have to pretend I have a child, but the child’s run off, and the nanny’s on holiday, and it just becomes a whole thing. But 2018 is the year when I am no longer fooled by the promise of free activities.
Suffice it to say that I later found myself in a hall surrounded by adults twice my age all wearing the creations they’d put together, like a maskless idiot. We ate Christmas cake, there were traditional dances, and people sang songs.
After that, we formed a procession. We walked the streets singing and playing instruments (other people), and gazing around in wonder and bumping into people (me). People came out of their houses to watch what was happening. Once we’d loudly bade farewell to Christmas in song, we gathered to watch Christmas get burned to cinders in the form of a tree bonfire. In many ways it felt like that episode of Friends where the girls burn all the ex-boyfriend stuff they don’t want any more**. It was cleansing and definitely had the potential to go awry in the most glorious way.
But the point is that it didn’t, and it was really good fun. I may not still be 100% clear what exactly happened on Saturday night, but I had a blast, and I’m all the more ready to see in 2018 with that damn procession song stuck in my head until the end of time and hair that still smells of bonfire. Bring it on.
*I just really love the word ‘truckle’.
**Now that it is on Netflix, please assume that any time I’m in my flat and awake I’m also watching Friends. Sometimes I’m not even awake, tbh.