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Christmas cuisine

The best part about Christmas, aside from spending time with family and being immersed in presents and cheesy movies that we all secretly love, would most definitely be the food. Whether you’re the one doing the cooking or simply sitting back and enjoying what there is on offer, food is the way to go.

Desserts are a personal favourite but then again, who can resist a lemon drizzle cake served with custard! After our wonderfully made Christmas roasts prepared with love and tenderness comes time for the Christmas pudding; something that we’ve all been looking forward to the entire year. This well anticipated dessert sets our taste buds alight and fills us with sweetness. Crafting such a delightful dessert takes time, precision and patience, but in the end it’s all worth it.

Christmas is the perfect time to try out new recipes; from sweet cinnamon dusted sugar cookies to a chocolate log. With the internet being simply jam packed with new recipes to try along with cook books that are released around Christmas time, you are bound to have tons of new things to try out from world renowned chefs. It’s the time of year where everyone wants to get into the kitchen.

Ever since this seasons Great British Bake-off ended, a void has been left in our lives in regards to watching those cakes rise or empathising with the bakers when their gingerbread creations would fall apart. I know I certainly wasn’t the only one shouting at my screen and trying to instruct them. Backseat baking, I like to call it. I’m one of those people who always thinks that they can do better than the contestants on TV, but when it comes to actually living up to my word – I never do, usually because there’s never really an opportunity in my local area to get involved. Now is the chance for anyone who has ever shouted at their television during bake-off, to finally put their oven-mitts where their mouth is!

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On Saturday 17 December, Redbridge is hosting its very own Christmas Bake Off with some incredible prizes! The winner earns themselves a £20 voucher at Waterstones and the runner up will win a £10 voucher, perfect to spend on those world famous cook books that are out this Christmas. Plus there is always something extremely satisfying about savouring the glory of a win. Do you have what it takes to win the title and become Redbridge’s Best Christmas Baker?

For more information on how to participate click here.

Don’t be a backseat baker – join in!

Post Author: Priya Devandran

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

December seemed to creep up on us extremely quickly this year, with temperatures and brisk winds acting as Christmas itself shaking our hands by giving us the shivers.

Halloween had just finished and before we knew it those pumpkins were being replaced by Christmas lights. Now, in the centre of Ilford, a tall majestic tree stands beaming ever so brightly with ornate decorations that shimmer and dazzle. But along with the beautiful decorations comes a certain character that would often fill my childhood with glee. The jolly man in red, with a white beard and spreading cheer wherever he goes – of course, I’m referring to none other than Father Christmas himself.

Santa, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas; he goes by many names due to the huge history that has created his legacy around the world. Back in the times of the Ancient Greeks, Saint Nicholas was well known for giving to the poor. His history has led him all around the world, enough for him to earn the title of patron saint of both Amsterdam and Moscow. In Belgium and the Netherlands he is known as “The Christmas Man” and “Father Christmas” in France. The evolution of Santa, and how various cultures around the world celebrate Christmas is different everywhere you go.

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An image of Santa in Green as seen on a French Christmas card.

Did you know Santa didn’t always wear red? He was once pictured as a man in a green winter coat. And instead of his origins as a Bishop, he was often painted as a sailor instead. He had also been seen, for example, in 1863 to be wearing an American Flag. It seemed that Saint Nicholas at this point had evolved from an ancient holy figure to being used in propaganda and was changed even more when he became more commercialised and stepped into the limelight. Authors would have their say on his wife and his flying reindeer – putting him in popular films and even on the famous Coca-Cola truck. Santa Claus has been immortalised in songs, books, films, plays and more. He became jolly Saint Nick as we know him today.

And thus began our rituals. I for one, enjoy watching the young kids wait patiently and on their best behaviour, like I used to when I was young. Putting out cookies the night before Christmas, waiting for him to come down that chimney with a huge sack of presents hauled over his shoulder. One resolute message has carried throughout the years; you have to be nice to receive a gift from Santa!

There is nothing I love more than the festive atmosphere that he brings along with him. I love walking the streets at night, soaking in the stunning decorations and hearing the street-Santa’s holler as they ring their large golden bells – chanting ‘Merry Christmas’ and spreading the cheer to passers-by. And of course, the best sight in the world is to see the eyes of a child light up with joy the second they see Santa.

Fun fact: The first retail Christmas Grotto was set up in JP Robert’s store in Stratford, London in December 1888.

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Christmas in town wouldn’t be complete without Santa’s grotto – a wonderfully decorated place for kids to experience the magic of Christmas. As Redbridge Central Library did last year, they are working on creating a vibrant set up for Santa and his elves, for everyone to enjoy. Lights, decorations, presents and festive fun are bound to be had.

So why not experience that joy for yourself? Head down to Redbridge Central Library this December to visit Santa in his grotto and receive a present, if you’ve been nice. But be sure to book in advance. While you’re in the library why not look up the history of Santa and be as fascinated as I am by a single man who brings the world such joy.

Book your place here

Post author: Priya Devandran