Editorial: Lighting the Way Through Advent


Photo by Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

November has turned to December. Thanksgiving is already behind us, Advent is with us, and Christmas lies just a few weeks ahead.

I don’t know about you, but as I have got older, I have noticed a tendency about myself to arrive at the Festive Season almost unaware. It probably has something to do with the blur of deadlines in the run-up to year-end, and the not-insignificant magical powers of my Time Thieves (known to others as children). In other words, there is just too much to do to take more notice of it, until there is nothing left to do.

Not even the ever more irritating, ever earlier appearance of Christmas chocolate Santas in the shops seems able to shock me out of this (it was in early October this year in my local supermarket, by the way, well before Halloween). I did enjoy the outrage of one of my friends who spotted a Christmas tree, complete with lights, in an apartment window in London on November 6. Well, we Scrooges must stick together. Bah, humbug!

Except I am not a Scrooge. Well, if I am, it is only partially, and even then, only in the post-ghosts of Christmas sense. Generally speaking, I do try to “honor Christmas in my heart.” I am less keen to “try to keep it all the year.” I would go as far as to say I love Christmas. I especially love Christmas in those 12 days allocated to it.

We report on Black Friday in this issue of the Budapest Business Journal. It has been an odd time this year. Inflation is high, energy bills are punitive, and the exchange rate sucks. The pre-publicity warned that discounts would likely be nearer to 20% off than 80. That combination makes for a hard sell, but it is typical of where we find ourselves in 2022. Driving back from the office late this week, I looked left as I prepared to turn right onto Andrássy út and was struck by the bright lights of the Ferris Wheel of Budapest, gleaming away from its permanent home in Erzsébet tér. The lights seemed to me to be brighter than usual until I realized they had no competition; there are very few of the usual Christmas illuminations on Andrássy, the municipality having reckoned that by not switching on the lights this year, it can save HUF 28 million.

Perhaps the need to make savings this year will offer us a less overtly commercial Christmas. Then again, looking at some of the prices from the Christmas markets, perhaps not. But it would be nice to think we could reconnect with Advent before embarking on the main event. Advent has become swept up in the general swirl of what some will insist on calling the Holidays, but it is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. At least, that is the intention in the Christian church calendar. It is supposed to be a time of waiting, of preparation. Get it right, and perhaps Christmas won’t catch you unawares.

It is way too early to extend Christmas greetings, but it is the perfect time to wish you a Happy Advent.

Robin Marshall


This editorial was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 2, 2022.

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