To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
Trafalgar Square if you're Christian, Jewish, Pagan or Happy
Trafalgar Square is one of the iconic sites that is home to all sorts of London celebrations and demonstrations, whether political, religious or multicultural. At this time of year, it takes on a distinctly bright and cheery look as it celebrates different festive themes.
The first event is the lighting of the Christmas Tree. This is a donation from the people of Norway in gratitude for our support during WW2 and a giant Norwegian Spruce, which is at least 20 metres high and 50 years old, has been a feature of Trafalgar Square since 1947. The tree is felled annually in December, watched by the Mayor Westminster, the Mayor of Oslo and the British Ambassador to Norway. This year the traditionally Norwegian vertical strings of lights will be illuminated on 6 December, and will then be switched on again every day until 12 Night when the tree is chopped and chipped to use as mulch.
Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
Once the tree has been illuminated it forms a backdrop to numerous choirs who sing carols from 5pm until 9pm starting on 11 December and ending on 23 December. Funds are raised for various charities. The Carol Singing programme is yet to be announced and can be found on the Christmas in Trafalgar Square website.
Carol Singing in Trafalgar Square (Picture courtesy of london.gov.uk)
Of course Christmas is not the only celebration to brighten the dark days of December and this year Chanukah begins on the evening of 8 December. Once again a 25 foot menorah will be erected close to the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree and the official lighting ceremony will take place at 5pm on 10 December. If you're not familiar with the festival its origins date back around 2,400 years to the time of Alexander the Great when the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks following a three-year long war. To celebrate they re-dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem by burning sanctified oil. Unfortunately there was only enough to burn for one day, but it miraculously burned for a further seven. The festival is now commemorated by the lighting of candles on eight consecutive nights, accompanied by the eating of food fried in oil (such as potato latkes and doughnuts), playing with spinning tops known as dreidels, and the sharing of chocolate money and sometimes other gifts. The Chanukah in the Square celebrations will last for three hours on 10 December and further information an be found on the site.
Chanukah in the Square (Picture Courtesy of london.gov.uk)
At one time revellers used to head to Trafalgar Square to welcome in the New Year, but this has now been surpassed by the New Year's Eve Fireworks Display. However the London Parade will pass by the Square as it wends its way between Piccadilly and Parliament Square.
However you like to celebrate the Christmas/Chanukah/New Year period in London I'm sure you'll find something in Trafalgar Square to aid your festivities.