Who Invented Christmas? By Lynn Brittney

Running time approx. 40mins.
Welcome to a 21st Century Christmas! The Sedgewick family are spending Christmas Day in silence – each one on their own piece of technology, not engaging with each other at all. Enter a television documentary company (on Christmas Day?! You have to suspend belief please…) who introduce the family to experiences of Christmas long ago, in an attempt to revive some Christmas spirit. The family race through winter festivals from ancient Mesopotamia (Festival of Zagmuk anybody? We celebrate it all the time in London!) up to WW2 at breakneck speed, pausing only to sort out an argument with Odin, a Yule Goat and Winterman and, later, have a quick dance with Henry VIII. It’s bonkers but you certainly learn a lot about the origins of Christmas festivities!

27 SPEAKING PARTS (some could be doubled) AND 8 NON-SPEAKING PARTS (flexible).

Suggested songs:

  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Tudor Dance (any)
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (Harry Connick Jnr.)
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bing Crosby)
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland)

Our scripts provide links to backing tracks for the songs, which can be purchased and downloaded for a very modest fee. All our scripts also contain production notes regarding, scenery, costumes and props.


Here’s a sample

 Part of SCENE 1…

The Sedgewick family home. There is a decorated Christmas tree with electric lights on, in the background. There is a sofa in front of it on which DAD is sitting watching TV with headphones on. MUM is sitting on the other end reading her Kindle. There is a table and chairs to one side with a lit standard lamp. MARK is sitting on one side of the table, with his headphones on, playing a computer game with a joystick on his laptop. HOLLY is seated the other side of the table, also on her laptop. GEMMA is seated on the floor, listening to her Ipod with headphones on. No-one is speaking to anyone else. There is a large amount of crumpled wrapping paper on the floor. Enter MITCHELL – documentary presenter – who carries a microphone and speaks to the audience in hushed tones.


Here we have a typical family Christmas in the year 2016. As you can see, everything is silent. The presents – all pieces of state of the art technology – have been opened. Everyone – to use modern jargon – is in their own bubble. This is how modern Christmases are spent.

MOTHER (looking up)


MITCHELL (ignoring her and carrying on)

In a moment, these unsuspecting people will find that they are totally cut off from modern technology and they will be forced to engage in our experiment of reliving the Christmases of the past.

(MITCHELL gets a device out of his pocket, which has a button on the top.)

Five, four, three, two, one.

(He presses the button and all the lights on the Christmas tree go out, the standard lamp goes out, the TV and laptops go blank. There is a general outcry from the children and DAD)

DAD (Taking off his headphones)

What’s happened to the TV?


My laptop’s not working!


Same here.

MOTHER (looking up from her Kindle)

The lights have gone off!

MITCHELL (stepping into the room)

Yes. That’s because we have turned off the power.


We? Who’s we?

MITCHELL (Taking a business card from his pocket and giving it to DAD)

Historical Productions Ltd. Reality television specialists.


Reality TV? Do you mean we are going to be on TV?


Yes. But only when we have removed the final battery operated gadgets. (He takes MUM’s Kindle)




And this one too. (He takes GEMMA’s Ipod)




Right. Now I think we’re ready. (Calling) Costume! Make-up please! Camera One and Two ready!

(Suddenly a flurry of people come onstage. Two cameramen with cameras, two sound boom operators, two make-up artistes and two costume people pulling a rail of clothes on wheels. MITCHELL moves forward to the front of the stage and begins to address the audience, whilst the others put Viking costumes on the family and smear dirt on their faces.)


Many centuries ago, long before Jesus Christ was born, people all over the world celebrated the annual renewal of the sun after the shortest day of the year – the midwinter solstice. In fact, the first recorded people to do this – about two thousand five hundred years BCE – were the ancient Mesopotamians with their Festival of Zagmuk. Over now to our Mesopotamian expert – King Agga.

(KING AGGA comes on the opposite side of the stage, with a hand held microphone. Camera 2 moves over to film him.)


Thank you Mitchell. Yes, the Festival of Zagmuk. Basically, we believed that our chief god, Marduk, had driven away the evil spirits that cause chaos but, as the year drew to an end, these evil spirits began to creep back into our lives.


So what did you do, Your Majesty?


Well, we made replicas of the evil spirits and burnt them all on a big bonfire, then we gave each other gifts. Then the king – in other words, me – was supposed to die, so that he could go to the underworld and help Marduk round up all the evil spirits and lock them away again.


Good grief! Do you mean that the king had to die every year!?


Ah…no…not really. We thought of a way round that. (He calls offstage) Bring on the slave!

(Two men bring on a slave, who has his hands tied in front of him.)

A slave or criminal would be crowned king for 12 days over the Festival period and then he would die at the end of it and I would be made king again.


This is really ruining the Festival of Zagmuk for me!

Part of SCENE 4…


So who comes to bring gifts?

(Enter ODIN, who is riding a hobby horse, with bells on its bridle, ODIN is dressed in a long brown robe and has a long white beard.)


That would be me. The god, Odin. Also known as Wotan or Allfather. I bring the snow, drive the reindeer herds to their winter pastures and I ride through the sky to bring gifts to all my people.

(Enter YULE GOAT – dressed like a goat and holding the hand of YULE ELF – dressed like an elf.)


No, actually, that would be me.




Sorry, yes, that would be us. Yule Goat and Yule Elf. I started out as one of the goats pulling the god Thor’s sleigh, but then I branched out and became a mid-winter gift bringer with my friend here, Yule Elf. People leave porridge out for us.


We like porridge.


Take no notice of them. They’re just porridge-eating idiots.

Oy! Mind your manners!

MITCHELL (To audience)

Aha! So now we have another argument about winter gift bringing!

(Enter WINTERMAN. He has a long green cloak, long white beard and is draped in ivy.)

Sorry, but you are both wrong. I am Winterman, also known as King Frost or King Winter.


Well you look a bit more like Father Christmas than these other two.


And there we have it. Our first reference to Father Christmas. Another piece of the jigsaw falls into place.

ODIN (going up to MITCHELL)

Just a minute. I would like to lodge an objection. You said that this was a Viking ceremony.



ODIN (pointing at WINTERMAN)

Well, he’s not Viking! He’s Saxon.


Is this true?


I’m afraid it is. But, of course, Viking and Saxon and Angle all sort of merged into one when they invaded England, you know.


So we’ve got a bit ahead of ourselves?