Posted: 17 December 2015

Advent: The Naked Chef

Ben Palmer reflects on church and Christmas traditions in this instalment of the Advent calendar.


Back when Jamie Oliver was making it as the ‘Naked Chef’, I was eight. And throughout Advent I was the king of mince pie making. I mean sure, my mum made the mincemeat and the pastry. But I was the king, churning out moreish mince pies by the dozen. 

The thing I quickly realised is that flour gets everywhere. So I would often be found in the kitchen with nothing on my top half besides occasionally being forced to wear an apron. A sensible way to save on laundry and make delicious treats at the same time.

However, it wasn’t long before I was dubbed the ‘Naked Chef’.

Carrying on traditions

Today, probably to the relief of my housemates, the topless element of the tradition has been dropped. But, at the age of 25, the mince pie making has returned.

Admittedly without mum, I had a bit of a false start. Relying on Google for a pastry recipe rather than my mum’s tried and tested recipe was a disaster. But one phone call home resolved that issue.

I find something therapeutic in my mince pie making tradition, spreading a little homemade joy. I can’t fully explain it but what could be seen as a repetitive chore, brings a satisfied smile to my now-bearded face.

The self-crowned king was back in business. Shop bought mince pies are out and one of my Christmas traditions has been re-established.

It has got me thinking, tradition in the Church can often get a bad rap as being unconsciously enacted, needlessly perpetuated and outdated. Yet tradition, properly understood and explained can be wonderful. At its best, Christmas conjures up meaningful traditions that share the joy filled story of God making his dwelling among us. What could be more beautiful?

By Ben Palmer - Church team

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