I was wiping away a sentimental tear after watching Mrs Miracle 2: Miracle in Manhattan’ when I got to thinking - what with all the turmoil and social upheaval that we face in these troubled times - perhaps it’s apt to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

If you are familiar with the movie, you will have noticed that the cast of Mrs Miracle 2: Miracle in Manhattan are super keen to remind us that the true meaning of Christmas is not about material things but about appreciating those you love.

This is odd because the very existence of Mrs Miracle 2: Miracle in Manhattan is a purely commercial decision presumably aimed at following up on the runaway box office success of Mrs Miracle - a film I’ve yet to see.

But everyone in the movie really did look sincere when they hugged each other in soft focus and wished each other a happy Christmas, so who am I to doubt them?

If we are to really dig up the true meaning of Christmas, it’s worth looking at the fact that the real festival is hidden beneath a huge Christianity rebrand - with Christmas riding on the runaway success of the ancient pagan festival Yuletide - by uncanny happenstance, much like Mrs Miracle 2: Miracle in Manhattan is hanging on to the coat tails of its earlier incarnation.

The winter festival of Yule - which celebrates the annual rebirth of the Great horned hunter god,  was celebrated on the Winter Solstice (21 December), and involved a great deal of drinking, slaughtering of animals and ‘heavy petting’.

The ancient Christian marketing executives also drew the Roman festival of Saturnalia into the mix. Saturnalia was also a bit of a knees-up in which the usual laws designed to keep everyone acting sensibly were suspended for a brief time.

The celebration of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, liberation and funk soul music, was a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and free love.

After solstice, the renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire with Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Ok, I can understand that a full-on return to celebrating the Birth of the Unconquerable Sun might be a little hard to handle, especially if you fail to warn your close relatives when they pop over in the afternoon.

Gallons of dried animal blood can be surprisingly tricky to remove from sofa fabric and cavorting about naked makes it very difficult for those who want to listen respectfully to the Queen’s speech.

I  suppose communication is key here. If you plan to embrace the original meaning of Christmas, you need to ensure that Bob and Jean know what to expect… Mince pies are probably not going to feature heavily.

Dress code is less about ‘fun smart-casual’  and more likely to involve some kind of hat, made out of antlers and fur… and nothing much else apart from some strategically applied blue woad.  Ideally they should bring a selection of psychedelic mushrooms and maybe a sacrificial farm animal of their choosing if they want to create a good impression - and ensure a bounteous harvest for the coming year.

Oh, and perhaps some of those nice After Eight mints to go with a coffee at the end of the evening.