Every summer, there comes a week where I come down with Magnum fever. Suddenly I wake up one morning and all I can think about is Magnums – when I can eat one, what kind I will eat, how many I can legitimately swap in for actual meals.

And every summer the Magnum people fuel my freak-out by bringing out an exciting new flavour to send my pulse racing, and my feet to the nearest Tesco freezer aisle. One year it was the Pistachio Magnum (RIP, green friend – you were too ahead of your time). One year was the Magnum Black Espresso. Last year was obviously the Double Peanut Butter. And this year, guys, it’s the Double Coconut. Coconut ice cream, two layers of chocolate with a kind of truffly chocolate filling in between, it’s so delicious it makes a Bounty ice cream taste like basically chewing on a table mat.

It’s also a wise choice by the Magnum guys, because in case you hadn’t noticed, coconuts are huge right now. They’re everywhere. They’re achieving fame the avocado can only dream of. Because however hard you try to put avocado in a pudding (and people really do try) it’s hard to escape the feeling you’re eating salad for dessert. Whereas coconut is are more like eating dessert for your dinner, so everybody wins!

Anyway – in an ideal world we’d eat Magnums for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, but in the real world we probably need some vitamins. So here are the other cool things you can do with coconut in between.

1. Coconut chips

By ‘chips’ we mean crisps, and by ‘crisps’ we mean toasted shavings of dried coconut, covered in salty-sweet flavour blends and eaten by the handful as a moreish snack. Mmm. Make your own from scratch using this recipe if you want to be seriously ‘stranded on a desert island’ about it (hey, exams are over) or buy coconut flakes ready-made from a health food shop and season them yourself. Chilli, paprika, salt, pepper, lime, vanilla, maple syrup, cocoa powder…? Just think of it as tropical popcorn.

2. Coconut bacon

One of those recipes that has vegans salivating and carnivores groaning quietly into a pillow, coconut bacon is the best in a long line of ‘trying to make things that aren’t bacon taste like bacon’ – and guys? It’s actually delicious. The secret is liquid smoke, AKA vegan polyjuice potion, which is veggie-friendly but miraculously gives things that taste of proper barbecued meat. Rustle up some coconut bacon with this recipe and discover a BLT you can eat while watching Babe with a clear conscience.

3. Coconut fro-yo

New recipe up on the blog, mango lime and coconut froyo! Link in profile 💘

A post shared by Wholeheartedly Healthy (@lauraagarwilson) on

Coconut yoghurt – not coconut flavoured yoghurt, just to be clear, but yog actually made with coconut milk instead of the regular cow’s stuff – is this year’s coconut latte (because we’ve moved on to oat milk now, keep up). Delicious on its own or with your breakfast granola, it’s obviously extra amazing when you turn it into fro-yo. This zingy mango, lime and coconut frozen yoghurt recipe is a tropical holiday in a bowl, and takes so much less time to get there.

4. Coconut flour

Before we go any further with this one let’s just recite the golden reminder: only 1% of the population is actually allergic to gluten. For the rest of us, gluten is totally healthy and delicious and fine, we don’t need to avoid it. But that said, variety is the spice of life and there’s definitely nothing wrong with trying new ingredients to jazz up your baking – like coconut flour, which gives a rich, dense-but-fluffy texture to your baking.

The internet is currently busy using it in everything from cakes and cookies to pizza crust, but as breakfast is obviously the most important meal of the day, these coconut and oat pancakes are top of our list.

5. Coconut milk ON YOUR HAIR

You already know all about using coconut oil as a cleanser, a moisturiser, a hair mask, a lip balm and a cure for hiccups (ok, not that), but because the beauty world moves on fast, we’re now all about using coconut milk and coconut flesh in products too. Hurrah! You can make your own coconut milk leave-in conditioner with this DIY tutorial – or for lazy gals, Ogx’s coconut milk shampoo and conditioner bring aaall the tropical island Ariel vibes you could ever want, without having to comb your hair with a fork.

OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner, £6.99, Boots

 

 

Hello and welcome to Sunday morning, where the food is delicious and the tunes will have you dancing around the kitchen like you’re in a romantic comedy.

On this week’s menu, we have a feta and chorizo frittata from the wonderfully talented Cider With Rosie (plus a couple of ideas with what you can do with any leftover chorizo, if leftover chorizo exists in your house). It’s super easy and quick to make, plus it’s nutritious and filling and full of protein and whatever. You can find the recipe here.

feta and chorizo frittata

And while you’re frying up a storm, throw on the soundtrack from Chef (which if you haven’t watched yet, you should probably get on ASAP). Loaded with hot Latin tunes, we’ve got £100 on you shaking your tatas round the kitchen in no time.

@LilyPesch

We’re going full Americana today. We’re basically transforming our life into an episode of Riverdale (but with less murders, obvs), so throw on your varsity jacket and let’s get cracking.

Step one: cook up some of these buttermilk blueberry waffles by the talented Joy the Baker. She’s such a pro at brunch, she’s written the book on it. Literally. Her new book Over Easy is dedicated entirely to brunch (it’s the most important meal of the day, we’ve heard).

Strict 2015 diet: WAFFLES.

A post shared by joythebaker (@joythebaker) on

Step two: you could serve them with bacon… but how about some Haim? The band with the best hair in the biz has a new release, Want You Back – check it out for some serious smalltown folksy vibes.

Step three: re-watch the entire series of Riverdale for clues, while we wait for the new season to air. Perfect Sunday.

They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but sometimes it can be the one that’s easiest to skip. Dry toast, soggy cereal or a slightly soft apple aren’t exactly the most appealing options… but did you know that as well as looking great on Instagram, a good brekkie is VITAL for boosting your brain power?

With exam season just around the corner, it’s time to start making your morning meal count by mixing up your recipes to a) be way more delicious and exciting, and b) include a few genius ingredients that could help keep you full and focused all day long.

Stuff like nuts, seeds, berries and veggies might not sound as appetising as a giant bowl of Coco Pops, but just wait ’til you see these five awesome recipes that are about to TOTALLY change your breakfast game.

1. All things avocado

Image: instagram.com/iquitsugar

Tacos for breakfast? Yep, dreams really do come true. And aside from the fluffy, soft tortilla, crispy bacon, fried eggs and melted cheese, a mega helping of avocado on top is where the brain boosting powers come into play.

Every organ in your body – and especially your brain – is reliant on blood flow, and the monounsaturated fats in avocados are brill for enhancing and increasing that. They’ll fire up your brain cells at super speeds, and their potassium will also help to lower your blood pressure when you’re stressed.

Check out this cheesy BLAT breakfast taco recipe of dreams and have absolutely no regrets.

2. Break out the blueberries

Image: Renee Blair @dailyburn

Smoothies can be a pretty unsatisfying breakfast that’ll only leave you hungry as hell a couple of hours later. No one needs hunger distractions when they’re trying to revise, so instead opt for a smoothie’s epic upgrade sibling, the smoothie bowl.

Perfect for summer, smoothie bowls are creamy, cold, thick and filling, but it’s the berries you chuck on top which really provide the good stuff. Blueberries are uhmazing for your brain – studies have shown they can boost concentration and memory for up to five hours, as their antioxidants stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain to keep you switched on.

Rustle up this ultimate summer breakfast recipe, packed with blueberries, buckwheat oats and almond milk. Smooth.

3. Breakfast pizza? Sure

Image: instagram.com/noshandnourish

Is this real life? Breakfast pizza is actually a thing that exists, and providing you don’t go and whack a load of pepperoni on top, it can actually be a pretty healthy option for your body and your brain.

Broccoli is the best possible topping you can opt for (and it goes seriously well with some runny egg yolks). It’s packed with vitamin K, which can help improve your cognitive abilities, as well as a chemical called sulforaphane which research shows could actually help the brain repair itself.

Learn the basics with The Hairy Bikers’ breakfast pizza recipe, then raid the fridge and get creative with your topping choices.

4. A liiiittle bit of chocolate

Image: instagram.com/instagoodfood

Told you that breakfast could be great. Anything involving chocolate is great. Just make sure that it’s dark chocolate you’re opting for when it comes to topping your brekkie. It contains a (very) small amount of caffeine which can heighten your mental alertness, along with magnesium to help de-stress – and if you’re a serious chocoholic, will even release endorphins to make you feel good.

These chocolate protein pancakes are a pretty genius invention as they’ll also provide you with long lasting, slow release energy to keep working hard, and you can top them with berries for extra brain boosting nutrients. Coco PROPS.

5. Overnight oats, obvs

Image: instagram.com/thefitfabfoodie

Compared to piles of chocolate pancakes and breakfast tacos, overnight oats might sound like the boring option – but actually, they’re what you make ‘em. First off, they’re a handy choice as (just like the name suggests) you make them the night before, which gives you an extra precious 15 minutes in bed.

They’re also the perfect recipe for cramming in as much brain-boosting food as you possibly can. Oats themselves provide a slow and steady boost in blood sugar for sustained brain power, but the extra treats you can mix with ’em are where it really makes a difference.

Berries are an obvious choice, but how about bananas, raisins, fruit or nuts and seeds, which are full of vitamin E, antioxidants and amino acids to jump-start your focus. Flax seeds and chia seeds are also brill – all the magnesium, vitamins, fatty acids and fibre you could ever need.

This fruity, yoghurty version of overnight oats (sorry, ‘parfait’) is a great recipe, but you can totally invent your own.

Now ‘scuse us please, it’s time to scoff every single one of these and turn into a very happy genius.

@LucyJaneWood

Quick! Guys, Easter is in 12 days. Less than two weeks. Are you ready? Are you warmed up? Have you done your pre-Easter exercises?

By which we mean, are you eating chocolate at every possible opportunity, to get yourself ready for The Big Chocdown? WELL? If not, get on it. At no other time of year do you have the perfect ready-made excuse to go the full Bruce Bogtrotter on your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not to mention snacks. And drinks.

But you know – being a chocoholic doesn’t even have to mean eating yourself into a Dairy Milk coma (not yet, anyway. 12 days guys.) Here’s how to eat chocolate for every meal, AND get some vitamins in at the same time.

Chocs away!

1. You could have chocolate porridge

Or vegan fudge brownie oatmeal, to be specific…

2. Or Chocolate overnight oats

Which, as we all know, is just cold porridge – because you don’t need breakfast central heating when it’s BASICALLY SUMMER* outside.

*16°C.

3. Chocolate granola

Which is like… crunchy porridge.

4. Chocolate flapjacks

Look chocolate and oats just go really well together, is what we’re saying.

5. Chocolate babka

Babka experiment using Holly's Challah dough — can't stop eating it. 👌👌

A post shared by Alexandra Stafford (@alexandracooks) on

A ‘babka’ is twisty Jewish yeasted cake, otherwise known as another legitimate way to eat chocolate for breakfast. Get on it.

6. Chocolate sourdough

Sourdough Noir: because bread and chocolate are made for each other. New recipe today. 💤😺💡

A post shared by Emilie Raffa (@theclevercarrot) on

Because this is so much classier than just spreading Nutella on your Hovis.

7. Chocolate-spiked vegetarian chilli

Seriously – the dark chocolate gives your veggie chilli richness. Which is kind of the opposite of that time you spent all your money on Milka on the first day of the school French trip.

8. Chocolatey Mexican chicken mole

Your fave bird laced with smoky, chocolatey sauce… this Mexican stew is a whole other level of spring chicken.

9. Chocolate avocado mousse

Only when you’re even eating cocoa with your avocado do you know you’re really doing Easter right.

10. Chocolate roasted chickpeas

If Maltesers and hummus had a baby, this is how it would look… Weird but gorgeous. Get snacking.

@laurenbravo

Smoothie bowls are a delicious, easy breakfast full of fruit and seeds and other good things. The secret to a good smoothie bowl is to get the right balance of soft and crunchy things, and this pineapple and banana smoothie bowl does exactly that.

YOU WILL NEED:
* 200g pineapple
* 1 banana
* 60ml pineapple juice
* 1 tablespoon of honey
* Chia sees, sliced banana, blackberries, and a sprinkle of oats

Can you remember a time before the internet was obsessed with unicorns? Us neither. Barely. Somewhere around the time pugs got boring and owls were officially over, the magical mythical* flying pony took over as everyone’s animal crush of choice.

And after the crush, comes the food! Technicolour cakes. Swirly rainbow bagels. Glitter-spiked lattes and pastel pancakes. Barely a week goes by without some other courageous cafe owner going to town with the food colouring, and so 2017 might be the year that your food gets more beautiful than your wardrobe.

We’ve rounded up Instagram’s most psychedelic snacks to satisfy your unicorn cravings…

*Maybe.

These technicolour lattes

Unicorn food for breakfast. 🍭🦄🍭#indahood #arvo #unicornlatte #kakaako

A photo posted by Erica L (@itserica_l) on

Mornings: 3000% more bearable with one of these bad boys next to your Coco Pops.

This vibrant veg fest

Because look, even unicorns need their fibre.

This pastel-perfect toast 

What’s on it? No idea. But shh, don’t ruin the magic.

These fantastical pancakes

It would be literally impossible to have a bad day after a stack of these. A slow day, maybe… but a great one.

This… actually we’re not sure. But it’s pretty.

💁🏼tested 🦄approved • 📸 @kenziedevlin

A photo posted by Jenna Bilgore (@jennaissance) on

Is it bread? Is it cake? Is it a… hat? Does it even matter? We’ll take five.

This total dream of a cheese toastie

Remember the days Red Leicester felt exciting?

This beautiful bagel

19JAN2017 🌈 You are what you eat #studiomuccisugarrush

A photo posted by Nuo Yee 李 (@nuoyee) on

Although Marmite would basically ruin it, which is a shame.

This confetti-esque croissant

What’s the French for Homer Simpson’s drool noise?

This unicorn hamburger mini cake

Because unicorn hamburger mini cakes are a thing, apparently. Keep up!

These delightful doughnuts

Unicorn donuts 😍💖🦄 #unicorndonuts #donuts #unicorns #bakedbyemmielou

A photo posted by Lover of all things cake 💕 (@bakedbyemmielou) on

No, not bath sponges – doughnuts.

This cup of marshmallows and sprinkles

Sorry, ‘unicorn hot chocolate’! Of course it is. And just imagine the dreams you’d have after.

These next-level unicorn macarons

In the future, all biscuits will have eyelashes and a horn.

This ridiculous cake

Shall we all just look at it for a while?

…and let’s not forget these

Are these real? I don't eat Doritos So idk lol.

A photo posted by UnicornPoop🦄💩 (@unicorn_fooodz) on

Sadly they were just a limited edition in 2015, making a packet about as easy to track down as an actual unicorn. Mmm, elusive. Mmm.

If you’re craving something sweet but keen to eat more fruit and veg, this two-ingredient chocolate banana pudding might be for you!

All you need is three bananas and three tablespoons of cocoa powder to make an easy tasty treat at any time of day.

It all started with a cake. More specifically, a period cake. When we first saw BuzzFeed’s story about about the treat that 12-year-old Brooke Lee received to mark her first period, there were, er, mixed reactions.

“Brilliant,” piped Lauren. “Eurgggggh,” cringed Lily. And so the battle lines were drawn. With Lauren standing firmly in the ‘this is lovely camp’ and Lily committed to the idea that the whole thing is just plain weird.

Here are our best arguments for and against period cake. Let the best woman win.

Lauren says… period positivity? It’s a piece of cake! 

I’ll be honest – when I saw Brooke Lee’s viral period cake, my first thought was “mm, cake.”

I love cake. I do not love periods, but there’s very little you could ice in sugar on a nice hunk of carbs that wouldn’t have me reaching for knife and a napkin. So I am ultimately pro-cake, for almost any occasion, including the very first time your uterine lining decides to make a grand entrance.

yes-cake

But once you scratch the buttercreamy surface and look at the idea beneath Brooke’s mom’s menses party buffet, I kind of love it even more. Sure, a period cake is a squirmingly public gesture that not everybody would be comfortable with – but isn’t that just because society still tells us periods are something to be whispered about behind closed bathroom doors rather than talked about at family parties? You have to wonder: if period cakes and period parties became a regular, run-of-the-mill thing, how long would it be before that stigma disappeared and we also felt more confident talking about our cycles, carrying tampons to the bathroom instead of stuffing them up our sleeves, and looking after ourselves when PMS hits instead of forcing ourselves to carry on as normal and then ending up a tired, mopey heap?

And it’s not just girls’ confidence levels. I also love, LOVE, the idea that period cakes and parties might encourage boys and men to get comfy talking about menstruation too, right from the off. We could even withhold their piece of the red velvet until they’re able to discuss the topic without cringing or wincing. “No fatherly advice, no slice!” – that could be the motto.

Some might think that the ‘hoorah!’ element of the period party is weird. You could argue that for something that affects 50% of the population, something that millions of women are just casually getting on with at any given time, making a big song and dance about it is patronising, or missing the whole point – it’s natural, not novel. And I get that, I do. But even if the balloons-out approach isn’t right for every girl or every family, we can’t deny it’s refreshingly positive. At betty, we’re all about find ways to make your period nicer. It’s our whole thing. So why not make a first period a lovely, exciting moment rather than a death sentence for your days of clean pants and stress-free swimming sessions? Wouldn’t we all feel a little less anxious about puberty if our parents’ reaction was celebration, not commiseration?

Besides, maybe if we embraced period parties for a few years, we might get to a point where everyone was so positive about periods that we didn’t feel we needed them anymore. It’s a personal choice – but a little fun and joy can’t hurt, right? Because when it comes to feeling confident about our bodies, we should be able to have our cake and eat it too.

Lily says… it’s not a party, it’s just a part of life 

On the surface, I should LOVE this idea. I love cake; I love chocolate cake and carrot cake and if it’s all that’s going, I’ll even take a bite of a fruit cake. And I love celebrations; I can get excited for almost any occasion, cat birthdays, regular human birthdays, 4- month anniversaries, you name it, I’m there in a party hat.

But I draw my line at a period cake. Not a cake made of actual period blood (though let’s be real, it’s probably a matter of time until that happens), but a cake designed exclusively to celebrate a girl’s first period. This is partly because of intelligent, well-reasoned arguments, and partly based on my own personal taste.

no-cake

Periods are a totally natural part of life. Like cutting your toenails or getting a pimple. These aren’t things that I love, but nor are they things I feel embarrassed to talk about – which, in my opinion, is all that periods need to be.

My period utopia world would simply be a place where women don’t slip tampons up their sleeves or men don’t clam up or say ‘that’s gross’ when someone mentions the word period. I want a world where tampons aren’t taxed as a luxury good and everyone has access to sanitary products. Where my brother is just as comfortable as I am buying tampons at the supermarket and my dad doesn’t use the phrase ‘women’s problems’. Periods are a totally natural and normal part of being a woman, so I think they should be treated with the same sort of semi-fascinated interest with which we treat our first pimple. This isn’t a party, it’s just a part of life. And I don’t think that requires cake.

Those are my sensible reasons. But, just a heads up, my argument is about to veer into “just because” territory. The first thing I thought when I saw the cake was: “If my mother invited my friends around for a party and had a cake made with ‘Congrats on your period’ written on it in red icing (!) I would have disowned her.”

I get that it’s thoughtful and sweet but your first period is a personal thing. I liked telling my friends when I was ready. I liked being able to get used to the concept that I now bled once a month in my own time, without everyone already knowing about it. I liked that my mum didn’t make a big deal of it, but rather handed me a tampon and reassured me that it was nothing to be afraid of.

By turning your first period to a party, I think you’re setting young women up to think that this is going to be a fun experience. But it’s not. In reality periods are a 2-9 day event where you often ruin a pair of your pants and you want to eat your body weight in chocolate. And that’s fine. That’s natural. And isn’t that what this whole thing is about?

What do YOU think? Period cakes, yay or noooo? Tweet us at @bettycollective, tell us on Facebook or comment on Instagram!  

Image: Twitter:@autumn1shea

Living as we do in the age of green juices, Instagram wellness gurus and friends who just happen to turn gluten intolerant overnight (except for, mysteriously, Colin the Caterpillar cake?) it’s easy to feel confused about food.

On the one hand: diets suck. Body positivity is the way forward, ‘strong not skinny’ is so now and we know it’s so much healthier to have a cookie when you fancy one than to live a life of obsessive calorie-counting. But on the other hand, when you’re fed up of bad skin, feel like hormones are taking over your body and need all the energy you can get to keep up with your busy, busy life, food could hold some answers.

“Teenage years are BIG years for your body – there’s a lot of change and development,” says Alice Walker, a registered dietician (which FYI is a legal title, whereas anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’ without professional qualifications). “Your body is calling out for good nutritious food.” So how do we sort the true superfoods from the trendy fads? Ask a professional, that’s how.

Here are Alice’s top five nutrients to be eating more of in 2017. Tuck in!

1. Fibre – keeps things moving

“First up is fibre, which we don’t seem to be consuming enough of these days and we need it to keep [lol] regular. Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of fibre and have the added benefit of being rich in other vitamins and minerals too – so if you aim to meet your 5-a-day of fruit and veg then that’s a good target. A portion could be an apple, two satsumas, two broccoli spears or a banana. Wholemeal carbs (oats, bread, pasta and rice), nuts, seeds, lentils and beans are also great sources. Long-term low intake of fibre can cause digestive problems later in life, so it’s important to get your fill.” 

2. Protein – power up

“A teenage body requires plenty of protein. Having good skin, hair and nails could all be down to having enough protein in your diet – but that doesn’t mean you need to go and drink protein shakes. Lean cuts of meat, fish, yoghurt, milk, eggs, quinoa, soya and tofu all are good sources of protein. Be savvy and include a portion of protein at each meal – that could be a palm-sized amount of the above, a chicken fillet, a salmon steak, an individual pot of yoghurt or a couple of eggs.” 

3. Calcium and Vitamin D – besties for bones

“These two together make a heavenly pair for strong bones. Teenage years are crucial as it is when bone strength peaks, and a diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D could lead to Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Calcium is, famously, found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese – but if you’re vegan or don’t like the white stuff then oily fish, calcium-enriched breakfast cereals and green leafy vegetables can also help. Again, aiming to have a portion at each meal would be a good start. Meanwhile vitamin D is added to lots of breakfast cereals, milk and margarine but the best source is actually direct from sunlight. As well as eating a balanced diet we should also have an active lifestyle, so fresh air and safe sun exposure [remember your SPF] for at least 15 minutes per day also benefits those bones.”

4. Iron – for inner strength

“We lose iron every month in our menstrual cycle, so it’s extra important to make sure you get enough once you start your period. Found in red meat, green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit and nuts, iron also helps to carry oxygen around the body, giving our muscles energy to move – so there is some truth in Popeye downing the tins of spinach to make him strong! If you don’t think that offal is awful then liver or kidneys are fab sources of iron. Vitamin C can also help the absorption of Iron from plant sources – so a perfect breakfast could be breakfast cereal with a glass of orange juice to wash it down with.

5. Fats – oil’s well that ends well

“Finally, let’s talk fat. Good fats are essential – our bodies can’t make them, so we need to eat them. Let’s not worry about the long complicated names but oily fish (like mackerel, sardines or salmon), avocado, nuts, seeds, rapeseed and olive oil all contain essential fats that can help give you great skin. Fats found in processed products – like cakes, crisps, biscuits and pastries – contain the less brilliant fats that it’s better to eat only in moderation.”

“But most importantly,” says Alice, “enjoy your food and be creative with it – variety is the spice of life!”

So there you go; proper, medical permission to fill up your plate with all kinds of food. Because there’s so much more to life than green juice.

Alice Walker is a registered dietician.

Image: Manjit Thapp

Eating breakfast is good for you, but in the rush of wrestling with your hair and sneakily finishing your History homework it can be hard to find time to make something delicious. Overnight oats take five minutes to make and as you prep them them the night before, you’ve got no excuse to tuck into a healthy breakfast of oats, dairy and fruit before you head to school.

This video shows you how to make overnight oats and gives you four recipes to try – which is your favourite?

APPLE AND PEAR
50g rolled oats
100ml milk
1/2 apple, grated
1/2 pear, grated
A pinch of nutmeg to taste

MANGO AND COCONUT
50g rolled oats
120ml coconut milk
100g mango chunks
Two tablespoons of chia seeds

RASPBERRIES AND CHOCOLATE
50g rolled oats
150g natural yogurt
Handful of frozen raspberries
A sprinkle of chocolate chips

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA
50g rolled oats
120ml almond milk
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1 sliced banana

‘Oh, you poor thing,’ is what most people say when I tell them I don’t celebrate Christmas.

You see I’m Jewish – not just a cultural bagel-eating Jew, but a synagogue-attending (although not as much as I really should) Jew – so for me, Christmas isn’t really a ‘thing.’ I’ve never had a Christmas tree. I’ve hardly ever opened a present on Christmas Day (unless it’s happened to fall within the Jewish present-giving holiday Chanukkah – an eight-day long festival which also takes place in December). And I’ve never gone carolling… although tbf, neither have most of my Christian mates.

So does that mean that I hate the whole Christmas period? That exchanging gifts in December makes me feel deeply uncomfortable? That I feel mortally offended when someone wishes me a ‘Merry Christmas’? Of course not. I may be Jewish, but I’m also British, so while I might not enjoy the full, traditional Christmas experience, it’s almost impossible for me to avoid getting into the festive sprit altogether. And you know what? I wouldn’t want to.

Mince pies, Christmas movies (the cheesier the better IMO) and Christmas parties fill me with as much joy (or, when it comes to work parties, horror) as the next person. And I also have a pretty banging line in Christmas jumpers (three of which – yes, I have more than three – I picked up at a Jewish charity shop). Even at my parent’s house – an otherwise Christmas-free zone – the Christmas spirit sneaks in, in the form of food. We might not have a stack of presents under an elaborately decorated tree, but jam-filled lebkuchen (traditional German Christmas biscuits), H U G E boxes of chocolates and nuts in shells (which inevitably, no one can actually crack), fill the house. In fact, we even have a traditional roast turkey dinner complete with champagne and crackers on Christmas Day, and my mum bakes her own Christmas cake.

But while we may subscribe to a traditional Christmas diet, that’s where my Christmas Day activities stop. While for most people, Christmas Day is filled with joy and excitement, I tend to find the whole thing quite boring. You see, because we don’t really celebrate Christmas, I spend the day with just my immediate family (my mum, dad and two younger sisters).

So while there are inevitably some pretty epic arguments (as per Crimbo tradition), there’s none of the excitement of seeing some long-lost drunken uncle do his annual eggnog-fuelled Elvis impression. Add to that the fact that there’s never anything on TV (but seriously, HOW is there never anything decent on TV? No, really?), and that even if I do, somehow, manage to summon up the energy to actually leave the house, there’s nothing to do because nothing’s actually open. The whole day just tends to drag.

In fact, the best solution I’ve found to beat the Christmas Day boredom is to work. As I’ve got older and realised I’m happy (or at least not massively bothered) about working on Christmas Day, it’s become one of my favourite perks about being Jewish. Seriously. You see, 99.9% of Brits would rather pull out their own toenails than work on Christmas Day. Therefore, when you’re happy to do so – thus allowing them to spend a full day trapped in a house with their entire extended family, stuffing themselves silly and playing endless games of charades – they’re so incredibly grateful, that you can demand all kinds of ‘favours’ in return. For instance I once merrily agreed to work the entire Christmas period up to Boxing Day (which, incidentally I much prefer to actual Christmas Day, because A. shops are open, B. the TV is always better, C. turkey sandwiches), and in return didn’t have to go back into the office till January 7. JANUARY 7! It was glorious!

And talking to other non-Christmas celebrating friends, the consensus is the same. Yes, we enjoy the spirit of the period. Yes, we like the time off. Yes, we’re ALWAYS happy to receive presents/ food/ happy greetings. So while I might not buy into the whole Jesus thing or get the full British Christmas experience, I still look forward to it every year.  Merry Christmas, one and all!

@MissSisiG