Why do people buy Panettone at Christmas?

Some Panettone at Christmas.

I pride myself on dealing with important questions on Diary of the Dad. So here’s one that has been troubling me for years. Why do people buy Panettone at Christmas?

For ten months or so, it vanishes from our thoughts. But then, as December approaches, it suddenly appears again. People go mad for it, leaving me flummoxed.

Why? Well, while it seems to have become a festive tradition, it isn’t exactly synonymous with Christmas on these shores.

If you’re asked to think about Christmas in the middle of the year, for example, it doesn’t spring to mind alongside the likes of turkey and mince pies.

And that’s because it simply hasn’t earned the right.

It’s bread with delusions of grandeur. And dry bread at that. With dried fruit in it too – which is always divisive.

It’s an awkward shape as well. Do you cut a slice as you would with cake? Or are you supposed to tear at it?

Every year without fail, though, one finds its way into our home and, indeed, that of everyone I know. Similarly, I’ve seen huge stacks of them in a number of shops.

Yet, as far as I’m aware, nobody seems to like it. This even extends to the birds in our garden. Even the bloody seagulls avoid it!

The trouble with tradition is that we do things without question because it instils a strange sense of obligation.

I can only think of two scenarios in which people gift Panettone at Christmas.

The first is when they feel they really ought to buy someone something but don’t know what to get them.

The second is when they have been given it themselves and, hating waste, have regifted it to someone else.

Of course, this can result in a chain. An elaborate game of pass the parcel in which there is no true winner.

I’ve been racking my brain to think of a decent use for it and can only think of one. Namely to keep a large square of kitchen surface free of dust.

It’s getting to the point where local councils should offer a panettone disposal service alongside Christmas tree recycling.

It’s confession time, people. Have you ever bought or received Panettone at Christmas? Have you regifted it?

And finally, does anybody actually like it or are we just pointlessly perpetuating Pannetone?


  1. John Adams

    Tom, it’s not just panettonne. Why do people buy Christmas ale or even worse, mulled wine? Panettone though, yes, I can see why the seagulls avoid it.

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