YOU may not have noticed, but there are now 35 shopping days to Christmas.

I had forgotten totally of the impending festival of retailers delight, until I wandered into a Huddersfield town centre store and got the full blast of Bing Crosby's seasonal goodwill.

Why is it always Crosby and Mary's Boy Child and, as the date gets closer, Slade and Roy Wood? This is part of the modern marketing tradition that only started in 1843 when John Calcott Horsley invented the Christmas card. Prince Albert brought the first Christmas tree to England in 1848 and Coca Cola hijacked the red suited fat man as Santa in the 1930s and commercialism took over.

Christmas is, by its name, a celebration of the birth of Christ, which was a simple event of huge significance. Now we have a huge event without much significance.

If we really wanted to dig deep into tradition, we would be celebrating a Celtic festival of the winter solstice, where folk got drunk, danced, feasted and shed inhibitions.

Come to think of it, I think modern Britain has it just about right.