Since my last E-Newsletter, and in the run-up to Christmas, I attended as I usually do every year, the All Saints’ Church annual Christmas carol event: Nine Lessons and Carols which took place on Sunday, 17th December 2017.
At 9.00am on Christmas Day morning itself I visited the nursing staff at Northampton General Hospital A&E department to demonstrate my gratitude to our public services who work all year around to help us. My visits to Northampton General Hospital on Christmas Day each year have become something of a regular feature and I always make sure I bring plenty of sweets to help the staff get through what can be quite a busy day for them!
It has also become traditional for me to visit the BBC Radio Northampton studios on Christmas morning and do a live interview. Host Helen Blaby played my annual choice of song by Mariah Carey, “All I want for Christmas is You.” On the radio, I thanked our superb Armed Forces, especially those serving abroad during Christmas who are away from their families and loved ones keeping us all safe.
As well as Christmas, the Jewish holiday of Chanukah is celebrated in December. To celebrate this holiday, I joined the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow and many other Parliamentary colleagues at an event in the Speaker’s House.
Chanukah is a Jewish holiday which is observed for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. This year Chanukah began on Tuesday, 12th December and ended on the evening of Wednesday, 20th December. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Maccabean Revolt and is observed by the lighting of nine candles on a candelabrum. The reason why the holiday lasts eight days and nights is because according to the Talmud (an ancient text) the Holy Temple was purified and the wicks of the candelabrum miraculously burned for eight days despite only having enough oil for one day’s lighting.