As we look forward to next week’s Christmas celebrations, here are five festive facts about Christmas.
Apologies in advance for some of the wordplay, but it is the most pun-derful time of the year. We wouldn’t want to leave anyone pine-ing for more...
1. Some ecc-santa-ric gifts
Just in case anybody was thinking of treating their loved ones to the gifts described in the ’12 days of Christmas’, we advise not doing so!
Yule be sorry if you do. Under the Game Act 1603, it is illegal to kill game on Christmas Day. So, if you are thinking of making a gift of a partridge on the first day of Christmas, it better either be alive or pre-deceased. In fact, you should make sure that you have already caught it as well as it is illegal to take or kill any bird on Christmas Day under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
So that means the two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, six geese a laying and seven swans a swimming all better be planned in advance too!
But at least it’s now easier to get your hands on those five gold rings. It used to be an offence under the Pawnbrokers Act 1787 for pawnbrokers to trade on Christmas Day, the Christmas Day Trading Act 2004 allows any shop (including pawnbrokers) to open if it less than 280 square metres in size.
2. But wait – there’s myrrh
Under section 31 of the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015, it is an offence for an ‘economic operator’ to make a ‘pyrotechnic article’ available on the market to a person younger than 12.
In other words, it is illegal to sell Christmas Crackers to anybody under the age of 12.
3. Don’t fir-get this Christmas tip
A warning for everybody to be careful when transporting their Christmas trees, especially if taking inspiration from Chevy Chase in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’.
Under rule 98 of the Highways Code, it is illegal for drivers to overload their vehicle. It is also illegal to use a vehicle in circumstances where the weight, position or distribution of its loads is dangerous and not secure under the Road Traffic Act 1988. This includes tress hanging out of car boots or strapped to the roof without a rack.
4. It’s snow joke
In the US state of Maine, it is illegal to keep your Christmas lights up after 14th January. Anybody caught with their lights still up after that date is liable for a fine.
By contrast though, there are many countries where a Christmas bonus equal to one month pay is obligatory (sort of). Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Guatemala, Spain, Portugal and Greece all ensure bonus payments in December. Similar rules (relating to other festivities during the year) are also in place in Indonesia, Singapore, China, Japan and Ecuador.
Whilst not obligatory, Christmas bonuses are also conventionally given in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany and Italy.
5. A little Noel-edge is a dangerous thing
Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day. There was one Christmas Day, 375 years ago in 1644, when it was illegal to eat a mince pie as 25th December fell on a legally mandated day of fasting. But, strictly speaking, that was the only time that it was illegal.
Eating mince pies was frowned upon during Oliver Cromwell’s Long Parliament of the Interregnum as they thought it to be immoral and excessive, and Christmas celebrations generally were banned under An Ordnance for Abolishing of Festivals 1647. There was no specific mention of mince pies though.
All of the statutes of the Interregnum were declared invalid when the monarchy was restored in 1660 as there had been no Royal Assent before their enactment. Although Charles II did re-introduce some of Cromwell’s laws, the statute that banned Christmas celebrations was not amongst them.
Dutton Gregory would like to take this opportunity to wish all a happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. With five offices across Hampshire and Dorset, we provide legal expertise and dedicated client service. We work closely alongside both individual and corporate clients to achieve successful outcomes.
If you wish to speak to a member of our team, email them today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call your nearest office.