The Boxing Day swim is one of those events which started as a one-off novelty event and has very quickly become a tradition. And creating traditions around Christmas time is something which takes place in each family, in each county across the country.
A member of one Norfolk family said that it became a Christmas Day tradition for them to go to different parts of the Norfolk coast and count seals. Whether this started as an excuse not to cook the Christmas lunch, or there just weren’t that many sheep around, who knows. But for this particular family, Christmas would not be Christmas without going out in all weathers to count the seals.
For one more well known family Norfolk and in particular, Sandringham simply is Christmas and tradition takes on a whole new significance. The timetable of events is itself a deep-rooted tradition, from the positioning of presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, to the time the Queen retires (midnight) to the length of the sermon on Christmas Day (mustn’t exceed 12 minutes otherwise royal attention may wander)
The family knows exactly what’s happening and when it’s happening because it’s tradition, right down to the 5 changes of clothes needed each day. It’s just outsiders who find it confusing. Poor Diana was not made aware that royal tradition dictated presents should be cheap and jokey. A cashmere sweater and a silver ornament later, no one was amused, whereas rumour has it that the Queen was completely charmed by Harry’s gift of a shower cap with the words ‘Ain’t Life a Bitch’ emblazoned on it.
Here in Norfolk we have a broad base from which to build your own Christmas traditions. You could start off with a trip to Thursford, which is Christmas sparkle, glamour, song and nostalgia all rolled into one unique show. Many come from miles away year after year to kick start their own festive period.
Or how about a trip to see Santa arriving by boat in Wells harbour, or go to see him on the North Norfolk Railway? Mince pies and sherry (latter for parents only obviously), excited faces looking out of the carriages as the steam train chugs gently through the Norfolk winter landscape, with Father Christmas waiting at Weybourne Station. Then there’s Christmas lights in almost every village, the Christmas Market at Burnham Deepdale, candlelight tours at Holkham Hall, and so it goes on – such things are the stuff of many family Christmas memories and traditions, and why Norfolk is such a great place to be at this time of year.