“It’s Chriiiiiiiiisssssttttmaaasssssssss!”Noddy Holder
It’s that time again. Once a year, here at Suburban Militarism, two regiments from my Army of Advent are selected to stand duty as Christmas decorations during the month of December. It’s a prestigious obligation, much like being the chosen battalion for the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony.
My tradition started back in 2013, pre-dating this blog, beginning with the raising of the first Christmas-themed infantry; a platoon of the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot. My daughter, then in primary school, kindly designed their standard which was eventually bestowed on them with full ceremony and which they carry to this day.
Since them, the Army of Advent has expanded to include infantry and cavalry brigades, artillery, and a General Staff, with a ‘pioneer and sapper corps’ planned. In future years, God willing, once all the regiments have been raised, the plan is to continue to add a handful of men to regiments as a Christmas craft tradition. A selection of each, hand-picked ‘best men’, will be selected for the prestige of representing the regiment on the plinth.
The honour of taking this December-long parade has so far fallen to the following regiments:
|Year||1st Regiment||2nd Regiment|
|2013||The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot||n/a|
|2014||The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot||n/a|
|2015||The Yule Grenadiers||n/a|
|2016||The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot||n/a|
|2017||The Christingle Dragoons||The Carolling Hussars|
|2018||The Carolling Hussars||Cracker Battery, Christmas Artillery|
|2019||The Midwinter Fuzileers||The Mistletoe Guards|
|2020||The Yule Grenadiers||The Eggnog Cuirassiers|
|2021||The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot||The Poinsettian Rifles|
As you can see, this year it is the turn of a company of selected men of the 1st Noel Regiment and a section of the newly-raised Poinsettian Rifles. The Poinsettian Rifles were established earlier this year using metal 1/72 scale figures from Hagen Miniatures. It’s been five years since The First Noel paraded. I thought that, as pleasant as the old figures are, I wanted the venerable 1st Noel to parade in a fashion that looked rather less like being in combat. So I’ve painted some new figures.
The old figures were Revell’s Austrian infantry of the 7 Years War:
The new figures are by HaT and are from their set of Seven Years War Austrians Marching. I’ve been spending odd occasions over the whole of 2021 adding paint to them and have finally got them Parade Ready in time for December. Only just this week, the men of the 1st Noel finally received their festive plumes (pieces of actual tinsel cut to size and glued on to their tricornes).
In a decadent move, the 1st Noel have also changed their hat lace from white to gold. They are based in ‘deep and crisp and even’ snow with a ring of red glitter around their penny bases, to add to their seasonal glamour.
So, on the 1st December, in a formal ceremony, a representative of both the Yule Grenadiers and the Eggnog Cuirassiers (last year’s display regiments), symbolically extended a Christmas cracker to the respective junior subalterns of the Poinsettian Rifles and the 1st Noel. This was all done in a highly ritualised manner, strictly to the beat of the drum, until the cracker was pulled and the subsequent ‘bang’ thereby inaugurated the 2021 Christmas duties. This solemn event is known as the ‘Trooping of the Cracker’. The intoning of the cracker’s enclosed joke by the subalterns is a particularly sombre and moving ritual.
Now, despite all these careful preparations, there are some problems. Firstly, tradition has it that the chosen regiments should stand guard on the mantelpiece over the season. Having moved house earlier this year, I now have no mantelpiece to place them on. I do, however, have a TV cabinet. With the television mounted on the wall, I am free to use this cabinet and so these Christmas dandies can take centre-stage in the lounge once more.
My other problem relates to command. Essentially, neither the Poinsettian Rifles nor the 1st Noel have any! Major Poinsettia of his eponymous rifles is, as yet, only a name on the payroll and not an actual, painted figure. With a ‘can-do attitude’ which is a feature of his regiment, Lieutenant Sylant-Knight of the 1st Noel Regiment has taken command of the Rifles in the interim, being rewarded with a brevet rank of Captain.
Brevet Captain Sylant-Knight’s regiment, however, is in turmoil. The 1st Noel are missing its overall commander – Colonel de Winter!
Colonel de Winter has led the regiment with distinction since 2013 but, during the recent house move, has gone AWOL. Now, I admit that I do have a history of losing individual figures. Colonel Giftrapp of the Yule Grenadiers, for example, went missing for a number of years and only surfaced to retake command of his regiment last year!
So until such time that Colonel de Winter returns from his sabbatical, Major-General Minns-Pye (hitherto serving as C-in-C General St. Nicholas‘ Chief of Staff) has kindly agreed to take command of his old regiment during this year’s tour of duty.
With another three weeks to go until Christmas, both regiments have plenty of time to enjoy their moment of glory…