Tis the season for novelty hits, charity records and, now, songs about baked goods. But though everyone wants a festive No 1, they rarely stay up longer than the tinsel

For a nation so obsessed with the Christmas No 1 – as much part of the festive season as overboiled sprouts and Lynx Africa – Britons are awfully sanguine about what they put at the top of the charts each year. Since the chart began in 1952, only 12 Christmas No 1s have had some clear and unambiguous connection to the season: two of them have been versions of Mary’s Boy Child and three have been Do They Know It’s Christmas?

While we have our platonic ideals of what a Christmas No 1 should sound like – somewhere between Mariah Carey and Slade and slathered in sleigh bells – the history of UK Christmas No 1s tells a different story. The Britain reflected in our seasonal chart toppers is one that is nostalgic, silly and generous. And it is inconstant: at Christmas, Britain wants only something to make it feel good, and is happy to cast its December favourites aside the minute it’s New Year’s Eve.

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