With Christmas around the corner, multiple festive events are being held around campus to celebrate the most beautiful time of the year. One of them was ‘A taste of Christmas at M&S’ held at one of the most iconic buildings on campus: the Michael Marks Building. The workshop started with an opportunity to know some of the others attendees over some coffee and tea.
Afterwards, an introductory video of M&S walked us through its 135 years of history and food marketing, branding and packaging. I got to learn how the company first originated in Leeds and were pioneers in Christmas marketing by offering a Christmas Tree Decoration parcel service whereby customers got sent boxes with all decorations sorted out. Moreover, a recount of their Christmas marketing was presented through a display of adverts that emphasised the family aspect of Christmas and the potential for snow– it was only until today that I learned this is a big deal for British people. Another interesting fact I got to know about was the 1950s tradition of gifting socks and/or stockings to office colleagues. Although this is -fortunately- not common nowadays, a tradition that has stayed prominent over time is that of Christmas jumpers, in fact, M&S is heavily promoting this concept this year in their ‘Go Jumpers for Christmas’ campaign.
Before getting a taste of some of the most iconic plates from this year’s M&S Christmas range, we got an overview of one of the most traditional British Christmas plates which M&S sells 1.5 million units of every year: Christmas pudding. Even if today this is a fruity treat to enjoy with your loved ones, the original recipe was actually a fruit and meat combination where ingredients like raisins, currant, wine, spices, beef and lamb were included. Moreover, there used to be a tradition of putting a silver coin in it and whoever got it served in their plate will have a spell of good luck.
After hearing these insightful and mouth-watering facts, we were finally allowed to get a taste of some delicious Christmas dishes. I had two different types of sandwiches, a delightful salted chocolate truffle and my very first mince pie. The sandwiches -one filled with turkey and the other with Brie and grapes- are part of the M&S Special Christmas Dinner collection which has the aim to combine the different components of a Christmas meal into one cold sandwich – fun fact: last year their cold sprout sandwich didn’t sit well among customers, turns out people don’t really enjoy such taste. As for the mince pie, I thoroughly enjoyed it for the first time and it is definitely something to have over Christmas if you happen to stay in Leeds.
If you stay on campus over the holidays, make sure you check out similar joyful activities like this one which will be held across December and January thanks to the Christmas in Leeds program. This is an annual programme for all students and postgraduate researchers who stay in the city over the festive period, providing the chance to meet others, experience Christmas traditions and find out about useful information and support. From film and games nights, to volunteering opportunities and trips, there are lots of activities to keep you entertained and make this Christmas in Leeds one to remember! Many events are family friendly and welcome students with partners and children in Leeds.
For more information visit the Out of term web page and join the Christmas in Leeds 2019 facebook group. Printed copies of the Christmas in Leeds 2019 Guide [pdf download] will be available at Global Café from 5.30pm on Monday 25 November in LUU Common Ground, and then at various locations across campus.
I wish you all a merry Christmas!