Without the benefit of a Thanksgiving, Brits are forced to look elsewhere for confirmation that the holiday season is approaching. And for the last decade or so, our waypoint has been something very specific indeed: the John Lewis & Partners Christmas commercial.
It’s a strange tradition, but a tradition nonetheless. Every year the 155-year-old department store throws financial caution to the wind, offering up a sumptuous and sad Christmas delight with a budget that runs into the millions. One was about a snowman seeking out the perfect gift. Another was about a very lonely penguin. Bizarrely, one was about lonely old man who has apparently been banished to the surface of the moon. Nearly every year the ads are accompanied by a sad cover of a pop classic, and every year they goad Great Britain into floods of competitive weeping.