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Hang a shining star

Idle brochure-flicking at work (to avoid work) led me to an accidental head start to the season. Oh, Christmas. How often do we pour so much time and effort and money into just making ourselves and those around us feel good? It's special.

My run-up to the 25th began, then, like this: at a Norwegian/Scottish carolling in St. Giles' Cathedral.

Every year, Norway sends a lovely big tree to commemorate the help the Scottish gave to them in the Second World War. We sing carols — and have them sung at us by the vastly more talented –in English, Norwegian and Latin (the crowd sticks to former) and we're wished a safe and happy Christmas in both languages.

This takes a little more than an hour and then it's back out to the cold to compare the big trees around the city. This, I gather, is the Norwegian.

And here is one on a hill I much prefer. Less security tape.

Down from this tree is Edinburgh's Christmas Market. I'm not too sure how I feel about it, if I'm being honest. Of course any Christmas market is better than no Christmas market, but compared to the real thing Edinburgh's offer is a bit flimsy. The fact that it's plastered with Germania makes the authenticity issue much worse than better. The carousel plays an orchestral medley of ABBA hits.

But you know, to see children wave to their parents from a wooden horse, friends pulling each other up from the ice, families united in complaint at the price of mulled cider… Give me the missing umlauts and the haggiswurst, I'll take it all.



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