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Research Bow Festive Special – Part 1

Research Bow Festive Special – Part 1

Welcome merry readers, to our Research Bow Festive Special. This spectacular showcase shares the creativity of our PGR’s through the holiday lens. So, sit down, grab yourself a sweet treat and a mulled wine/cider/tea, and enjoy the feast of work offered to us.

This year, we have decided to split our Festive Special into two parts. That way, everything can be enjoyed in mince pie-esque bite sized chunks. We will start the Festive Special with an apero of artwork by Matthilde Lotteau, followed by appetiser of poetry from Augustus Reid, a platter of prose from Xinmeng Wang, and finished off with a fine cheeseboard of comparative analysis by Samridha S.J.B Rana.


Merry Festive Winter Events

Matthilde Lotteau

Instagram: @m_lottox

A happy French snow person celebrating in traditional rustic clothing.
Matthilde Lotteau @m_lottox



The night before Christmas – Poem

Augustus Reid

Wondering and wishing upon all the stars,

under a dark clear night of Christmas eve,

a young child imagined the stars,

to be the night sky’s Christmas lights,

wishing they would shine bright forever,

and would never leave.

Before losing the battle with sleep!

As they fought with a toss, turn and salivated dribble,

this child came to the realisation that Santa Claus,

is real but anti-social and just not civil.



Xinmeng Wang

I couldn’t recall how I was introduced to Christmas. It might be in an English class in Year 3 when I was 8 years old; or it could be a card with an image of Santa, reindeers pulling the sleigh. Santa looked kind and caring and warm in my eyes as a child; I don’t think I paid much attention on his having colours of skin or eyes different from mine, nor did I worry about how we would communicate.

Moving on to middle school, my English teacher managed to stress the class out with Christmas, by assigning us into groups to design posters introducing Christmas, and in the end the best and the worst one/s would be picked out. How fun!

Well, when I first visited the UK, I got people asking: Do you celebrate Christmas in Beijing? – Not really a few decades ago, but now I guess it depends on what it means by celebrating Christmas. We do enjoy Christmas as an occasion, when the streets and shopping malls are decorated in an excessive impressive way. Giant Christmas trees are set up in shopping centres. Most of the trees are not real. I wish they were but given that they look better than the ones at the Trafalgar Square in 2020, I wouldn’t complain too much.

Shops are on sale everywhere – some give a genuine discount, others doubling the price and advertising for 40% off. Well, people go on loads of shopping whatsoever. It starts from before the Christmas and lasts through the New Year to the Chinese New Year, which could be at latest near the middle of February. Likewise, restaurants will offer Christmas themed deals, pubs no exception, etc. Personally, I’m not sure how festive versus commercial it feels, but it adds another reason to light up the night and a pleasant touch in the chilling gloomy winter. That’s nice.

While young people are more likely to party with friends and go on dates, older generations don’t care about it as much. Hence family gatherings are not expected. As you probably already know – the Chinese New Year owns the gentlest part of our hearts. Anyway, they are yearly check-ins with tears and laughs.

Dear friend whoever is reading this – I wish you a merry holiday season and a happy new year.


Celebrating Christmas as a birthday vs as Christmas: A comparative analysis

Samridha S.J.B Rana

Twitter:  @samridhaR

After years of hearing all of the familiar tropes of ‘you’re born on Christmas?! You must be Jesus reincarnated!’ or ‘you’re born on Christmas?! You’re so lucky the entire world celebrates your birthday’ or ‘you’re born on Christmas?! You must be Santa’s gift to you parents’ etc etc, it was kind of exciting to get to celebrate my birthday in the place where they actually celebrate Christmas. Or so I thought!

Back home, in South Asia, people do celebrate Christmas- call it a colonial hangover, call it being secular or just call it (this is how I see at it!) as seeking any excuse to celebrate a holiday- with fervour and joy not unlike their western counterparts. There are Christmas lunches and dinners galore in every restaurant and Christmas themed parties are the flavour of the town come December. Everyone would get into the spirit of the times and it would be an overall enjoyable time. Especially for me! See, as a young child I would demand double gifts- what helped was being in boarding school and visiting family for just 3-4 months in a year is the perfect recipe to guilt them into giving me gifts- and relatives would happily oblige. As I grew up I would find it really amusing how consumerist-driven the holiday was in our part of the world where its not celebrated traditionally by the majority of the people. Still, I wasn’t complaining!

So when I got the opportunity to come to the UK, and having been swept up in the first year whirlwind of shifting to a new country and managing a PhD, my partner and I did not give two thoughts on how to go about celebrating the big day. We were just too busy enjoying the Christmas markets, the weather, the snow and the overall Christmas-y vibe to even realise what was to come. A week or two before the big day my wife comes to me and says:

“Umm… have you checked to see if you’re interested in going out for a meal somewhere?”

“No, not really. Let’s have a look.”

“Yea so, I have… everything is shut on the 25th.”


What transpired was a wild chase back and forth to find something to do or someplace to go out to eat, but to no avail! Everything was shut! It was Christmas and everyone would be with family so the entire town would be shut, even the busses would not run properly! This was… disappointing to say the least! Completely understandable, in retrospect, but with no plans in place this was shaping up to be a rather unfamiliar birthday and Christmas experience!

However it wasn’t too bad. We managed to buy some good food and cooked a sumptuous meal together; and our local pub had decided to open for a few hours so I managed to squeeze in a wee birthday dram too! So overall,  not what I was expecting for a birthday but not too bad either. What did I learn from this? Plan better! Improvise, adapt, overcome and all of that, because Christmas here is actually different from Christmas back home! At least this year we’ve managed to sort things out better so looking forward to that!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

(a festive fictional tale of “full”-filment)


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