How does Christmas sound to you? The noises, tastes and textures of the festive season

Ah, Christmas-time. Twinkling lights, the red and white of candy canes, the green of pine trees – and then there are the smells and sounds and textures and tastes of this time of year too, all adding to the experience. So we thought we’d take a quick look at some non-visual ways of experiencing this time of year.

Scents and Tastes of Christmas

We don’t know about you, but we know Christmas is on the way when the gorgeous scents of cinnamon, allspice, cloves and oranges, gingerbread, and marzipan start wafting out of bakeries. And it’s even better when those lovely scents accompany the gorgeous tastes of seasonal treats like stollen or mince pies, with or without clotted cream.

Other smells you might associate with this time of year include a roasting dinner, roasting parsnips, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, or those hot, sweet mince pies we mentioned already. And then there’s the smell of pine, and, if you live somewhere that snow is likely, that cold, almost metallic edge to the air just before the snow falls.

If you’re anywhere near a real fire, you’ll know the distinctive smell that goes along with the crackling of the flames. The smell does vary from wood smoke to peat, though, depending on what fuel is being used.  And we have known of people who like to add a tiny bit of sustainable frankincense or other fragrant resins to the fire as a once-a-year special treat.

Textures of Christmas

The other lovely aspect of Christmas time is the sheer range of textures around. From the spiky needles of the tree to the soft felt of a traditional Christmas stocking, or the icy feel of snow. There’s the gently pliable skin of a satsuma or the “squidge” of a marshmallow on top of that lovely chocolate you’re treating yourself to. (We know there’s probably a more technical term, but we just love the way “squidge” feels when we say it.)

This time of year is also often an excuse to dress up in our very poshest frocks (or suits, or costumes, or onesies, or, well, anything really). Many of these are made of rich fabrics or made to feel like luxurious materials – you’ll usually see a lot of satin, silk and velvet this time of year as well as fleece and wool.

Sounds of Christmas

The sounds of choirs singing traditional carols, or new versions, is a major sign that Christmas is on its way. It might be the charming choral work of church choirs chanting O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles), or the cheerful rhythm of the Calypso Carol, or even the toe-tapping tune of Frosty the Snowman. In some town centres, you’ll also hear the robust sounds of brass bands, and it’s rare to find a shop that isn’t pumping out festive music of some description.

There’s the gentle tinkling of baubles on the tree if you’ve decorated for Christmas; or the peals of church bells; or, if you’re somewhere very traditional, perhaps the crackling of a fire. And if there’s a Santa anywhere nearby you may well hear “Ho, ho, ho” as he goes about his work.

If you’re in an area that’s not too urban, and where it often snows over the Christmas period, then you’ll also know that slightly surreal silence you get just after the snow has fallen. And if your family celebrates with presents, who hasn’t gently shaken a gift or two before opening to see if they can work out from the sound what’s inside?

So it’s over to you now. What’s your favourite seasonal sound, this time of year? What do you like to eat? And what fabrics or textures mean Christmas-time to you? Why not think about using our PENpal or PENfriend technology to add an extra sound dimension to your festive preparations?