We’ve all heard that terrible cracker joke over the past few years: “How will Christmas lunch be different after Brexit? No Brussels!” It usually merits a few groans and speeches from grandparents on how we made a mistake entering the EU back in ’73. They then tend to proclaim how proud they are to be British, and end up passing out half-drunk on the sofa before the Strictly Christmas Special even begins.
It may shock them to learn that Christmas lunches, a staple just like the Queen’s Speech, aren’t that British after all.
Let us begin with the humble potato, which also happens to be the sole source of food here at The Lampoon. Originally domesticated in Peru, they did not arrive in the UK until the Golden Age of Exploration when travellers like Walter Raleigh thought a weird beige object would be the best holiday souvenir to bring home. I’m sure their families were delighted. Whilst they might now be closely linked with British cuisine in the form of fish and chips, they still aren’t British in origin.
At least we still have the star of the show: turkey. Actually, we don’t. December Fools! That’s a thing, right?
Turkey is once again an import from the Americas, arriving in Britain in the 15th century. Even then, it did not become a Christmas lunch must-have until the 17th century amongst the working class, who couldn’t afford geese.
What did we have before turkey? One individual from 1773 recorded having cod and oyster sauce, amongst other things, at New College, Oxford University. We might see the dish return if the fishing quotas all work out.
We can’t even claim ownership over the vegetables or herbs that play a minor role in our lunches. This includes onions, garlic and thyme (thank you Romans), as well as brussels sprouts (despite the name, they likely originate in the Mediterranean).
What can we take credit for? Yorkshire puddings, if you add them to your Christmas lunch, you weirdo. That’s it really.
Whatever will the Brexit-loving Britons do when they discover most of their favourite Christmas foods aren’t British in origin? Will they see their mistake and beg Brussels for forgiveness? Will they beg Santa for a People’s Vote? Or will they follow in the footsteps of everyone’s favourite hypocrite Nigel Farage and ignore any evidence to the contrary of their opinions being wrong? Methinks the latter.
Whether you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer, we hope you have an enjoyable holiday period. Maybe you can spare a thought for us Lampoon journalists, who have been left locked in the office by the editors with only rotten Christingle oranges – which also aren’t British! – to keep us going. Maybe one day, Band Aid will come together to sing a song about us.
Note: the featured image is of The Lampoon editors’ Christmas lunch. The writers were not invited.