by Graham Pierrepoint
For many of us, the first week of January means it’s time to put away the tree and the tinsel and to leave any worry regarding gift-buying and overindulgence for another year. While some of us may leave our decorations up for an extended period – there are some that even have them up all year round – it’s generally thought that Christmas traditionally ends around January 5th or 6th – but for one British island, tradition says something rather different indeed, and that means continuing to celebrate the festive season long after the rest of the world has finished.
That place in question is the island of Foula, considered to be the most remote island in the UK that is inhabited by citizens – where over thirty people continue to thrive in a tiny community that is more than a stone’s throw away from the British mainland. Ten of these inhabitants, according to The Independent, are children – and all residents gather in one house to celebrate Christmas two weeks after the rest of the country (and indeed the majority of the world) – but why is this?
According to Foula legacy and tradition, Christmas and New Year is celebrated on the island twelve days after the dating exhibited on the Gregorian calendar, meaning that their New Year will not technically start or be celebrated until January 13th – and that Christmas Day for the residents fell on January 6th. This is all due to their observation of the Julian Calendar, which was replaced by the Gregorian model back in 1752 – since this time, the rest of the UK have moved to the new calendar system – however, Foula has chosen to stay firm with the Julian system of old. This means that their Christmases have in fact been twelve days later than our own since the leap year of 1900!
Therefore, anyone feeling rather sad about Christmas and the festive season already being over needn’t worry – all you need to do is make sure you visit Foula once New Year rolls around, and you can celebrate all over again! You may want to look into travel, however, as the island is situated some two hundred miles north of John O’Groats, the furthest northern point on the UK mainland. Why settle for one Christmas when you can have two – or, at the very least, stagger the dates so that you can buy presents and food when they are on sale in early January?