Since 2012 the final issue before Christmas has featured a festive pullout, with “best of” lists of everything from the year’s films to memes, alongside Christmas puzzles and festive food reviews. This builds on a long tradition of Christmas features, reviews of the year and self-indulgent filler features that had to make do when the Courier staff began their Couriermas celebrations a bit early.
With the paper generally wrapping up in early December, some year’s celebrations were limited to a bough of holly on the masthead, and Christmas frequently passed by the Courier completely unmarked. Other years saw a restrained “Merry Christmas from the Courier” message, addressed variously to its readers, printers or advertisers.
On occasion, though, the Courier really went to town. “Behind the scenes” features showing how the paper was made, Courier-themed crosswords and navel-gazing reviews of the Courier‘s year have all filled space in Christmas issues and given the Courier staff their moment in the limelight.
In 1988 the personal ads column, one of the paper’s most popular features of the 80s and 90s, filled the front page with its mockery and private jokes.
Humour has often be used to convey festive frivolity. At Christmas 1952 King’s Courier became King’s Scrouier. This four-page parody was filled with the news stories, adverts and letters to the editor that featured in the Courier. Or, as the editorial inside described, the Scrouier staff had decided to produce a special Christmas supplement called Courier. “It will be obvious that Courier is not intended to be taken too seriously,” it explained, “but is, rather a light-hearted mirror of its more intellectual prototype.”
Another parody supplement followed five years later, while in 1983 half a page was taken up with a pantomime, featuring the sabbaticals and other big names on campus. Full of in-jokes so contemporary they’re funny only to those involved with the Union at that time, if that, these gave the Courier team an opportunity to explore their more creative sides.
Much like pantomimes or Christmas TV specials, the Christmas issues of the Courier have often “broken the fourth wall” and wished its readers a merry Christmas and, on occasion, quite literally become a parody of itself.
Christmas is, after all, a time for indulgence.