"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless." Terri Guillemets
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." Edith Sitwell
Remind members of the day, date, month, season and year. Ask them to introduce themselves and say what they like, or dislike, about winter.
Have some examples on standby if anyone struggles to answer ...
- Cold weather, frost, snow and ice
- Shorter days, dark mornings and evenings
- Sitting by the fire, wearing socks and jumpers to keep warm
- Stormy weather, gales and rain, umbrellas and wellies
- Writing Christmas cards
- Opening the Advent Calendar
- Putting up the Christmas decorations
- Buying the Christmas tree
- Doing the Christmas shopping
- Making the Christmas cake
- Buying and wrapping presents
- Having a glass of mulled wine or a mince pie
Add to the list.
SOME FACTS ABOUT WINTER
The season includes the months of December, January and February.
The winter solstice, or shortest day, is 21st December. The hours of day light (in London) are 7 hours, 49 minutes and 43 seconds. This is 8 hours, 48 minutes and 37 seconds shorter than the summer solstice (on 20th June in 2020).
The worst winters on record in the UK were:
The 'Big Freeze' in 1962-63. Temperatures fell to -20c across the UK and snow drifts of 20ft were experienced across Wales and the South West. The cold weather started in December and lasted pretty much until March.
The 'Winter Of Discontent' in 1978-79. A blizzard hit on New Year's Eve and caused widespread disruption to transport and power. This was also the winter of widespread strikes in the public sector, hence the impact was greater with many without heating, and sometimes lighting. (James Callaghan was Prime Minister at the time.)
Ask members if they remember the power cuts and ask how they filled the time without TV. Radio was often okay, as many sets were battery powered. Candles were often in short supply. As was food, as many distribution centres were affected by the strikes.
Who remembers having a bath or getting dressed in front of the fire?
Did anyone have an outside toilet at the time? (Remember Izal toilet paper?)
1981-82 was pretty bad, when the South West and Midlands had drifts of up to 23ft. The cold lasted throughout December and January.
The most recent extended cold snap was in 2009-10. Most of the UK suffered very cold temperatures, as low as -17c, with snow and ice not melting for several weeks. 1,000 motorists were trapped on the A3 in Hampshire from January 5th-6th and water and electricity supplies were disrupted.
Discuss with members who likes the snow?
Who remembers tobogganing, having a snowball fight and making a snowman?
Who had a duffle coat or a parka? What about mittens on a string across your arms?
What about bobble hats and scarves. Has anyone started wearing their's yet?
We all agreed that as long as you have warmth, food and company then snow and ice outside can be nice to look at. But when you have to venture outside, for work or other commitments, then things can get a bit tricky.
We also agreed that winters are generally warmer and wetter than they used to be, likely as a result of global warming.
IDIOMS Complete the following phrases with members ...
- The north wind doth blow and WE SHALL HAVE SNOW (An old saying) - Jack Frost nipping at your NOSE (Cold outside) - Blanket of SNOW (Freshly fallen, deep covering of snow) - Dead of WINTER (Midwinter)
- Not a snowball’s chance in HELL (No chance) - Cold hands, warm HEART (A nice person, underneath the frosty exterior) - A cold SNAP (A sudden and brief period of cold weather) - As pure as the driven SNOW (Innocent, virtuous, flawless) (As pure as the driven SLUSH is a person not so innocent, virtuous or flawless!) - Cold comfort (Not much of a comfort; an insufficient consolation) - In the cold light of DAY (A time and place from which problems can be objectively considered) - In cold BLOOD (Ruthlessly) - Left out in the COLD (Neglected) - On thin ICE (In an unstable or risky situation) - Snowball EFFECT (An escalating process, something that starts off small but grows very quickly as it picks up momentum) - The tip of the ICEBERG (The small detectable part of a much larger and hidden problem) - Add fuel to the FIRE (Intensify a conflict, make a bad situation worse) - Snowed UNDER (Overloaded with work) - Break out in a cold SWEAT (Sweat due to fear or anxiety) - Break the ICE (Do or say something to relieve the tension) - Send shivers down your SPINE (Suddenly become afraid) - Freeze UP (Find yourself unable to do/say anything because of panic) - Get cold FEET (Lose your nerve) - Give someone the cold SHOULDER (Snub someone or be intentionally unfriendly) - Go cold TURKEY (Abruptly and completely give something up) - Blow hot and COLD (Feel suddenly shocked or scared) - Pour/throw cold water on SOMETHING (Discourage or put a stop to something) - Put something on ICE (Put something aside for the moment, delay something) - Under the WEATHER (Unwell or in low spirits) - When hell freezes OVER (Never)
- White CHRISTMAS
OPENING SONG. 'December, 1963', Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTUhnIY3oRM&list=PLmQprd5YNQjsQopzy-WVncFMIAU-ntNaM
Who composed the classical music 'The Four Seasons'? -
Go around the room and ask members which is their favourite season and why?
MUSIC AND PICTURE QUIZ
ROUND 1. Snow
1. What is the coldest day on record in the UK? (Nearest guess)
2. A foot of snow when it melts produces how many inches of water?
3. How much can the Police fine you for driving with snow on your roof or windscreen?
What is the Welsh word for Police?
4. Where does snow have to fall for there to be an official declaration of a white Christmas?
5. What was the name given to the 2018 winter storm, which hit the Vale Of Glamorgan especially badly?
What substance do Snow Ploughs spread?
6. SONG. 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow', Dean Martin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN7LW0Y00kE
Who remembers having a coal fire? What were the required accoutrements?
ROUND 2. Literature & Film
7. Name the seven dwarfs in the 1937 film 'Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs'?
8. 'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents!' is the opening line of what classic novel?
Who wrote it?
9. Where is the land of talking animals and mythical creatures that one White Witch has ruled for 100 years of deep winter?
Who wrote the books?
10. In Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol', which four ghosts visited Ebenezer Scrooge?
11. Which classic 1946 Christmas movie had James Stewart play James Bailey, a man down on his luck and visited by an angel who helps him see that life is worth living? -
What was the name of the angel?
12. SONG. 'The Christmas Song', Nat King Cole - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwacxSnc4tI
Does anyone know the words to the nursery rhyme 'Old King Cole'? (Complete the first line for the point)
"Old King Cole ...
ROUND 3. Music
13. Which carol includes the line: "When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even?"
14. Which song begins with these lines: "Sleigh bells ring: are you listening? Down the lane, snow is glistening."?
15. Name the eight reindeer in the poem 'The Night Before Christmas'?
16. In the 1973 song 'It May Be Winter Outside', by Love Unlimited, what is the next part of the opening line?
When does (meteorological) Spring start?
17. Thinking about the 1983 Eurythmics song 'Here Comes The Rain Again', who were the two members of the group?
18. SONG. 'Northern Lights', Renaissance - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIEqdXpG5Pg
What is the proper name for the Northern Lights?
Has anyone seen them, or would anyone like to?
ROUND 4. Winter Sports
19. Where is the next Winter Olympics in 2022 being held?
20. Which British competitor finished last, but was the first ever to ski jump, in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary?
(There was a 2016 movie about him, starring Taron Egerton.)
21. Which UK ice dancing partnership won gold in the Ice Dancing competition in the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984?
What piece of music did they dance to?
22. Which Caribbean country entered a bobsleigh team in the 1988 Winter Olympics?
(There was a 1993 film about this, entitled 'Cool Runnings'.)
23. What is the name of the dog renowned for saving avalanche victims, reviving them with brandy carried around their neck?
24. SONG. 'California Dreamin'', The Mamas And Papas -
Who was the lead singer with 'The Mamas And Papas'?
How old was she when she died in July 1974?
ROUND 5. General
25. Which zodiac sign runs from November 22 to December 21?
26. Noel is a fairly common name for children born on Christmas Day. Name these four Noels?
27. Which sweet was first advertised 30 years ago by a polar bear?
28. Which country has given a Christmas Tree to Trafalgar Square each year since 1947?
29. When was the first Christmas Card sent?
How many Christmas cards get sent every year in the UK?
(Actually, this 177 year old Christmas card, printed in the same year as Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' was written, is up for sale at Christie's, with a guide price of £5-8,000.)
30. What year did Queen Elizabeth II deliver her first 'televised Christmas message to the nation'? What time is 'The Queen's Speech' broadcast to the nation each year?
31. SONG. 'Winter Wonderland', Darlene Love - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxdwyvb6w18
How should you ice a Christmas cake?
(Did anyone have Phil Spector's 'Christmas Album'?)
32. BONUS SONG. 'White Christmas', Bing Crosby - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QW65Amj0vM
How many days are there until Christmas?
What are the four weeks running up to Christmas called?
FINAL SONGS. Each year 'Classic FM' hosts a chart of 'The Nation's Favourite Carols'. 'O Holy Night' was voted last year as number one. But here is a link to the Top 30, with videos included.
Ask members to choose a carol to sing together - https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/occasions/christmas/nations-top-30-christmas-carols/
The north wind doth blow, And we shall have snow, And what will poor Robin do then? Poor thing. He’ll sit in a barn, And keep himself warm, And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing.
I’m a little snowman, short and fat, Here’s my scarf! And here’s my hat! When I see the snowflakes, hear me shout! All you children, please come out!
Here we go round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Here we go round the mulberry bush, On a cold and frosty morning! Doctor Foster went to Gloucester In a shower of rain; He stepped in a puddle Right up to his middle And never went there again
It's raining, it's pouring. The old man is snoring. He bumped his head and went to bed And he couldn't get up in the morning.
Rain, rain go away Come again another day. Rain, rain go away Little Johnny wants to play.
Spring is showery, flowery, bowery Summer - hoppy, croppy, poppy, Autumn - wheezy, sneezy, freezy, Winter - slippy, drippy, nippy.
IDEAS FOR EXTRA SONGS, IF TIME ALLOWS
'Somewhere In My Memory' - 'Home Alone' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJlA0b96LpI
(This video clip includes lyrics, so there is a chance for a group singalong.)
Ask members how they like to decorate their Christmas tree? Do they put and angel or robin on top?
What about baubles and glitter?
Any Christmas lights outside the house?
What about putting the presents under the tree?
Or a Christmas stocking on the mantlepiece?
What about Christmas shopping?
Has anyone finished their preparations yet?
'Rainy Days And Mondays' - The Carpenters - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjFoQxjgbrs
(Nearest guess) What are the average annual days of precipitation in the UK (from 1981-2010)? - 133 DAYS OF RAIN OR SNOW
And the annual average precipitation? - 33.7 INCHES
'Stormy Weather' - Billie Holiday - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-EpwL-udZc
What was Billie Holiday's nickname? - LADY DAY
Which US singer song-writer starred in the 1972 movie about her life 'Lady Sings The Blues'? - DIANA ROSS
'Have You Ever Seen The Rain' - Creedence Clearwater Revival - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1V8YRJnr4Q
What would members do to keep themselves warm and dry? Go around the room ...
- Wellington boots
- Thick socks
- Thermal underwear
- Stay indoors
'A Hazy Shade Of Winter' - Simon & Garfunkel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZdlhUDEJo
Right, time to list some winter weathers ... Go around the room and ask members to come up with their own list.
- Freezing rain
Make snowflakes with an origami technique - see YouTube video for an example.
Decorate them with coloured pens, glitter and whatever else is available.
Make a snowflake chain.
Decorate some gingerbread men with different coloured icing sugar. Kits are available in most superstores.
Have some mince pies and mulled wine on stand by.
Eat the gingerbread men, if you have managed to make any.
MUSIC & PICTURE QUIZ
OPENING SONG QUESTION. ANTONIO VIVALDI
1. MINUS 27.2C - RECORDED TWICE (IN BRAEMAR ON 10TH JANUARY 1982 AND IN ALTNAHARRA ON 30TH DECEMBER 1995)
2. ONLY ONE INCH
3. £60 / HEDDLU
4. THE MET OFFICE IN LONDON
5. 'THE BEAST FREOM THE EAST' / SALT (MINED)
6. COALMAN, COAL CELLAR, SCUTTLE, SHOVEL, TONGS, BRUSH, NEWSPAPER (TO DRAW THE FIRE), MATCHES (TO START IT)
7. BASHFUL, DOPEY, GRUMPY, HAPPY, SLEEPY, SNEEZY & DOC
8. 'LITLLE WOMEN' / LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (1832–1888)
9. NARNIA (THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE) / C.S. LEWIS (1898-1963)
10. JACOB MARLEY AND THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT AND YET TO COME
11. 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' / CLARENCE ODBODY
12. "Old King Cole ... WAS A MERRY OLD SOUL, And a merry old soul was he; He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three. Every fiddler he had a fiddle, And a very fine fiddle had he; Oh there's none so rare, as can compare, With King Cole and his fiddlers three."
13. 'GOOD KING WENCESLAS'
14. 'WINTER WONDERLAND'
15. DASHER, PRANCER, VIXEN, COMET, CUPID, DONNER, BLITZEN, RUDOLPH
16. "BUT IN MY HEART IT'S SPRING" / 1ST MARCH
17. ANNIE LENNOX & DAVE STEWART
18. 'AURORA BOREALIS'
20. 'EDDIE THE EAGLE EDWARDS
21. JAYNE TORVILL & CHRISTOPHER DEAN / 'RAVEL'S BOLERO'
23. ST. BERNARD
24. MAMA CASS / 32 (SHE DIED OF A HEART ATTACK)
26. NOEL EDMONDS ('MULTICOLOURED SWAP SHOP', 'NOEL'S HOUSE PARTY', 'DEAL OR NO DEAL')
NOEL FIELDING ('GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF')
NOEL GORDON ('CROSSROADS')