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Oxford does Christmas: five of the best

Although students have gone home for the vac, Oxford University keeps ticking over. Here we bring you the best Oxonian Christmas celebrations so far.

1) The Ashmolean comes alive

Oxford University’s annual PR- focussed Christmas video doesn’t disappoint this year, with the Ashmolean turning into a low-budget Night At The Museum.

We think this is the first time an official university video has used the term ‘YOLO.’

Now we know where our tuition fees are going…

2) Oxford University’s science lectures

Oxford’s method of engaging Year 9s with science is foolproof: say something generic about Chemistry and then blow things up.

This year’s offering was a hit. The four lectures, ‘The Accelerate! Show’, ‘Can Machines Think?’, ‘The Chemistry Christmas Show’, and ‘Prime Numbers’ were packed out.

The Chemistry Christmas Show!

In this lecture, chemists Dr Hugh Cartwright and Dr Malcolm Stewart whizz through some of the more glamorous aspects of the discipline, failing to mention that a Chemistry BA mostly consists of crying in a lab in the Science Parks at 8AM with a hangover, wishing you were doing History.

But never mind that – just look at the explosions!

The Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures are also being given by an Oxford academic, Dr Alison Woodard, on the topic ‘Life Fantastic’. They begin on BBC Four at 8PM on 28th December.

3) Univ wishes us a Happy Christmas (through horrendous singing)

Dozens of academics, staff, and students got together to make this slightly cringe-inducing Christmas sing-along.

Univ’s 12 Days of Christmas

Who knew that Sir Ivor Crewe could sing like that?

4) Oxford at the University Challenge Christmas Special

Everyone knows that the only reason we applied to Oxford was for the chance to be on University Challenge. At this time of year, famous graduates get the chance to be sneered at by Jeremy Paxman, in the celeb packed University Challenge Christmas Special.


Magdalen battle it out with UCL in last year’s competition

The two Oxford institutions competing in this year’s competition cover the full spectrum of colleges – Christ Church and St Hugh’s. The two teams will battle it out with twelve other universities for the glory of their alma maters.

Representing Christ Church are Andrew Graham-Dixon, art historian and presenter of The Culture Show, Mehdi Hasan, author and Political Director of The Huffington Post, Lord Michael Dobbs, Conservative Peer and author of the House Of Cards novels, and Adam Boulton, Political Editor of Sky News.

For St Hugh’s, the team consists of Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the Bristol Old Vic and National Youth Orchestra, Suzy Klein, writer and radio presenter, Alex Hibbert, polar expedition leader, and Rowan Pelling, Daily Telegraph columnist and broadcaster.

Inexplicably, the Christmas specials mostly take place after Christmas. Christ Church’s first match, against Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, begins on Boxing Day at 7:45PM on BBC Two. St Hugh’s take on (the rather less intimidating) Stirling University on Friday 27th December at 7:30PM.

Last year saw a victory for New College, Oxford, so we expect great things from this year’s Oxonian offerings.

5) The University wishes us “a multi-sensory Christmas”

A festive research project by Professor Charles Spence, who leads the Crossmodal Research Lab in the Department of Experimental Psychology, has discovered that there’s a lot more to Christmas dinner than you might think.


Dr Charles Spence

It’s not just the cooking that counts – the quality of the meals also rests on the cutlery we use, the colour of the plates, and even the background noise.

Professor Spence said, “While the heart of any great meal has always got to involve the best seasonal ingredients, beautifully prepared, I believe it is the “everything else” that really makes all the difference to how enjoyable that festive meal will be.”

“Did you know, for example, that serving a dessert on a round white plate will make it taste 10% sweeter than exactly the same food served on a square black plate?”

He also notes, “Foods are rated as tasting a lot more Christmassy if Jingle Bells or some other festive number is played in the background at mealtime.”

As if cooking a turkey wasn’t stressful enough already…

What are your Christmas plans? Tweet us to let us know at @Cherwell_Online.

Happy Christmas from everyone on the Cherwell team!

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