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As historians, we are all very used to exploring dramatic moments in the past. At Chester, we even run a first year History module that introduces students to major turning points from the ninth through to the twenty-first century. However, it is probably safe to say that neither staff nor students could ever have imagined living through one of these epoch-defining moments themselves.

Being an eyewitness to history, though, can be very tiring. Therefore, to mark the end of term, we wanted to bring everyone on the History programmes together for an informal Christmas party. Sadly, with students at undergraduate, MA, MRes and PhD level, this couldn’t be in person this year. As with many events in the time of COVID-19, we had to move online instead.

Fortunately, a digital Christmas proved no barrier to the usual festivities; all the ingredients were there. We had terrible cracker jokes, Christmas hats, jumpers and decorations. And of course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without some taxing quiz questions. This year’s was a case of fastest fingers first to win the prizes; students had to identify snapshots of some of Chester’s most historic buildings and paste the answers into the ‘Chat’.

The highlight, though, surely came with the quickfire talks. Historians from the department offered a brief glimpse into some very different historical Christmases. Dr Tom Pickles took us back to AD 800 to discuss Charlemagne’s Christmas in Rome, while Dr David Harry spoke about Japan’s Christmas traditions, which surprisingly have a lot to do with fried chicken. If anyone had been planning to host a medieval Christmas, then Dr Katherine Wilson explained what was needed. The subject of Professor Tim Grady’s quick talk was the celebration in Nazi Germany, which highlighted stark contradictions between a Christian festival and a fascist state.

Thank you to everyone who joined us. We wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

The History Team

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