IT’S WEDNESDAY. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS… TIS GUEST BLOG TIME!! Wooooo. This week, our final guest blog comes from another one of my wonderful YA book friends, twitter friends and in real life friends Aimee! And what a treat you are all in for! This is an epic post filled with Christmas traditions and pictures galore! If you want to follow Aimee you’ll find her here on Twitter!
There’s a bit of Christmas in the air…
Christmas lights illuminate the cold, dark winter nights as people bustle the streets; hunting for the perfect Christmas gifts in shops decorated with enticing displays of sparkling winter colours. The scent of hot chocolate on a frosty evening fills the air as crowds gather to admire the glorious Christmas markets which offer unique gifts and scrumptious food. Mulled wine is poured, mince pies are baked and children eagerly write their letters to Santa hoping that they’ve been extra good during the year. Love, kindness and joy are sprinkled around with that extra bit of care as families and friends unite during a pretty bleak season.
I personally believe that Winter magic lingers in the air between Bonfire Night and Chinese New Year as there is something heart-warming and surreal about the way people gather together on cold, dark winter nights to enjoy extra special experiences and create annual traditions. There’s a little bit of Christmas in the air and it feels so nice to be able to share my Winter Magic traditions with you guys. Winter Magic traditions play a massive part in my self-care, particularly during a period where my depression is more amplified due to shorter daylight hours and colder weather, so it’s very important that I try to focus on the more magical side of things.
My Winter magic traditions include:
- Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night may be over for another year but it is one of the most magical times of the year. There is nothing like treading on the autumn leaves that have fallen off trees in preparation for winter, the smell of bonfire smoke filling the air on a dark, chilly evening as a crowd gathers in anticipation of what colourful patterns may explode across the skies. For me, Bonfire Night signals the beginning of winter and I take great comfort in being reminded that “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light” just by staring in awe at the fireworks that create glittering images against the night sky.
- The Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Going to watch the pantomime at theatre is an annual tradition and one that also creates a bit of nostalgia. Pantomimes and trips to the theatre will always hold an extremely special place in my heart because it is so much more than just a one off annual tradition. For me, a lot of my childhood memories are from theatres and they’re so much more than just watching a production. Being part of theatre productions in the most well known theatre in your city is more than just magical, it is an exhilarating and phenomenal experience that remains with you for life. I appreciate my visits to the theatre and the productions that occur more than words could ever describe, because I know how much work and effort is put into every performance and it’s part of the reason why I get so damn emotional every time I see a production.
- Fenwicks window, Newcastle
A favourite annual tradition of mine is going to see Fenwicks’ Christmas window display in Newcastle and it’s one that I’ve done since I was a child. Every year has a different theme and some of them are just so spectacularly produced that there is usually a massive queue just to witness the phenomenan of a window display. Visiting Fenwicks window is now an annual tradition that I share with my younger sisters as it’s just lovely to spend a bit of quality time with them whilst standing in awe at a magical window display that tells a story.
- Reindeer dust
Every year, I make reindeer dust for my younger sisters, my cousin with Downs Syndrome and my parents’ two adorable little God-children. Making reindeer dust is a very therapeutic way to destress from all of the hustle and bustle that goes on during the countdown to Christmas and it’s a perfect excuse to get the glitter out and create a bit of a mess. Sprinkling the reindeer dust along the path to help Santa find his way to our house is just magical and it looks even more spectacular if there’s a dusting of snow too.
Baking isn’t necessarily classed as a Christmas tradition, particularly as my dad is a professional baker, but there’s just something so magical about baking at Christmas time. It’s as though extra love is sprinkled into the cookie dough, Christmas cake has that extra dusting of shimmer and pies are baked in more festive pastries. Baking at Christmas can be extra special if you’re making Christmas decorations for loved ones or just baking for the annual Christmas Eve buffet (with an added Mince Pie for Santa of course).
There is nothing more magical than waking up to snow. It is like a whole new world. Abi Elphinstone got it absolutely perfect when she said on her Winter Magic book tour with extra special guests that snow makes you notice so much more about the world. It’s like everything you don’t usually notice is brought to life by a blanket of snow. Jack Frost also does an exceptional job of giving the world that extra sparkle during the night (clearly everything magical happens at night. Especially if you build a snowman…)
- Christmas Day
On Christmas Day there is nothing I love more than snuggling up on the sofa with a blanket to watch festive films such as the Snowman, the Nightmare before Christmas and Love Actually. There is also nothing I appreciate more than sharing festive reads with my sisters hidden inside a blanket fort and enjoying the only proper family dinner of the year with everyone sat around the same candlelit table, pulling crackers and having a laugh.
- Boxing Day
Some quality father/daughter time is spent on Boxing Day where we take a trip to St James’ Park or stay at home and watch the Newcastle United football match on TV as it’s one of the few opportunities we get to do this. The atmosphere at St James’ Park is always spectacular but there is nothing more magical than a Boxing Day match, especially if we win!
- New Year/Chinese New Year
Both New Year and Chinese New Year are magical. There is nothing I love more than approaching a new year with new resolutions and goals for the year ahead. For me, New Year means hope, opportunities and new dreams; my new reasons to stay alive. New Year is also a major time for reflection and I always feel more motivated to become a better me, to keep battling with the demons in my mind that affect my mental health. Beginning the new year will also bring with it a new annual tradition in the hope that it will promote my self care for the year ahead. This new annual tradition will come in the form of a floating lantern as I hope it will help me to release just one negative memory along with the lantern every year to enable me to become more at peace with myself. I am also a massive lover of Chinese New Year, even though I have no links to Chinese traditions. I just adore how they celebrate New Year and I think that the whole idea of sharing luck for the year ahead with one another is a perfect way to begin what is hopefully a very positive and meaningful year. I also enjoy exploring the Chinese markets and looking at all the little quirks they have to make New Year that extra bit special.
A perk of Winter magic is being at home. Now I usually struggle with being stuck in the house or not having something to do but there’s just something a bit more magical about being at home in Winter. With less hours of daylight, I find myself being completely relaxed and at peace when the dark nights creep in as I’m able to snuggle up with a blanket in front of the fire, light some candles, add some festive joy with the glow of fairy lights, drink hot chocolate and read a favourite book. There is absolutely nothing more magical than getting all cosy and lost in a favourite book as your parents try to finalise Christmas plans whilst your siblings create festive mayhem with their crafts.
Personally, these are my top 10 favourite Winter Magic traditions as they signify love, kindness and hope – the three things that we all could do with in the world right now. The festive period isn’t about the more commercial side of things, and some people aren’t lucky enough to have a family to rally around them or to receive gifts which is really upsetting. Give the true gift of Christmas this year by just doing one small act of kindness for someone who really needs it, and help to make their festive season that little bit brighter.
I’d love to thank Steph for asking me to write this blog post and I wouldn’t have managed to write it without the inspiration of her prompts, the wonderful Winter Magic book tour or without listening to Christmas in the air (tonight) by Scouting For Girls on repeat; which was the inspiration for the title of this blogmas post. I’d also love to wish you all a safe, merry and extra magical festive period alongside luck and well wishes for the future ahead. Please feel free to share your Winter Magic traditions too!!