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4 Ideas For A High Culture Christmas

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Every Christmas it’s the same damn thing. You buy presents for loved ones, get drunk at office parties, and drink loads of eggnog and hot chocolate. The routine is simple and basic; it is one you’ve been running since college. But that part of your life is over. Isn’t it time to try things that are a bit more grown up?

Black Friday has come and gone. Now is the time to get serious about your plans for the season. I suggest you make this Christmas a high culture Christmas, that is, pursue activities that put you in touch with the best that art and refined entertainment have to offer. Here are 4 ideas for doing so.

1. Music

The indispensable Christmas music from this realm of art is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. No doubt you’ve heard passages from it at some point in your life:

The Nutcracker is perhaps the most popular piece produced by the Russian master. It is composed of a light, easy, playful series of musical movements that will delight you whenever you hear them.

Bach is another great composer for Christmas. Many of his best pieces are based on themes associated with the holiday. The Christmas Oratorio, B Minor Mass, St. John Passion, and St. Matthew Passion are the most fitting for this time of year.

Seeing a live performance of any of the above pieces is an especially nice treat. Invite the girl you’ve started dating. She will be impressed.

2. Books

Christmas is also an excellent time to start reading one of the long classics of literature. Start now and you may finish by the holiday period. Only one recommendation comes to mind: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Love and betrayal, politics and philosophy, war, religion, history, and family—in short, the entire range of human experience is expounded, pondered, and celebrated in this masterwork of human ingenuity and imagination. War and Peace is often described as the greatest novel ever written—with good reason. Its characters are depicted with so much beauty and humanity that peoples from around the world, from every station of life, have found themselves engrossed by them. The lively Natasha, the uncertain Pierre, the noble Andrei, the innocent Mary, the treacherous Helene—these marvelous creations keep the reader continuously delighted in a world of grand balls, battles, dinners, duels, and debates.

If you have even the slightest capacity to feel and empathize—and I know you, my good man, possess such a capacity—you will enjoy this masterpiece of fiction, despite its 1500 pages.

3. Parties

Rather than organizing a Christmas party designed to induce the maximum amount of drunkenness and the minimum amount of true sociability you should put together something a bit more stylish this year. A masked ball is one of the great Christmas traditions of elite society. You don’t need to go as far as forcing people to wear tuxedos and gowns. Host instead a hip, edgy, more modern and slimmed down version of the event.

Insist that your guests wear a colorful mask of some sort. Encourage them also to wear full costumes, including those that are sensual and erotic. The idea here is to combine the elegant and the risqué.

4. Film

In addition to reading the classics of literature, you should make it your business to watch the classics of film during the holidays. Watching old movies is an amusing way to pass the time.

A Christmas Carol, based on the wonderful short novel by Charles Dickens, has had so many adaptations and interpretations that it is almost impossible not to see it in the days leading up to the big day. However, the 1951 film Scrooge with Alistair Sim is the version to watch:

Frank Capra’s films are also perfect for the days just before and just after the twenty-fifth. Put It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and State of the Union in your must-see docket.

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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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