WELL, that’s it. I’ve finally had to concede Christmas is almost upon us.

I stuck rigidly to my philosophy that it is morally wrong to even contemplate Christmas until the very end of November at the absolute earliest and I’ve now stopped shouting abuse at my television every time a festive advert comes on the screen.

I wouldn’t go so far as to stay I’ve entered into the full tinsel-fuelled spirit of things but I’ve started to smile at the (plastic) Christmas tree that now decorates our office.

At this time of year, I do start to ponder on what the true meaning of Christmas really is. Obviously, if you are Christian, it is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ.

And going back in history, the idea of a mid-winter festival tied in with the winter solstice, the time at which the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon, resonates through most cultures and religions.

Indeed winter solstice celebrations can be traced back to Neolithic times in this country with Stonehenge built on such an axis to align with the sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice.

But where did our current (non-religious) Christmas traditions come from? Surely they are as old as time, aren’t they.

Urban legend has it that it was a Coca Cola advertising campaign in the 1930s that gave us Father Christmas in his current form – red suit, white beard, sack of toys, sleigh pulled by reindeer – but various incarnations had existed before.

It would appear that our current Father Christmas is a merger of the Christmas visitor from various cultures, including the Old English Sir Christmas, who was a figure encouraging adults to eat, drink and make merry (not much changes, does it?) and the European gift-giver St Nicholas.

The idea of Santa riding a sleigh pulled by reindeer can be traced back to Clement Clarke Moore’s poem ’Twas the Night Before Christmas which was published in 1822. It was this poem that effectively redefined our idea of Christmas.

And it was this image that the Coca Cola marketing men picked up on in the 1930s, effectively cementing Father Christmas into popular culture.

And just how traditional is turkey for Christmas? Well, it wasn’t, until we discovered America. The traditional British festive bird was always goose until we started importing turkeys from the States.

And it’s funny how we’ve come to adopt some new ‘traditions’.

I can think of a few.

Is it really any surprise the X Factor times its broadcast schedule to start in autumn and come to a conclusion just in time for the winner’s single to hit the shops (do records hit the shops any more?) just in time for festive season in the desperate hope it will make the Christmas number one?

Poor old Cliff Richard, the undisputed king of the dreary Christmas singles. He must be shaking his fist at Simon Cowell every year as another immediately forgettable X Factor single races to the top of the charts.

And, of course, we have that other great – new – tradition, the John Lewis Christmas advert.

I’m a bit of a fan of John Lewis in general and its Christmas advert in particular. It’s almost become the totem, the icon, the reaffirmation of what Christmas is all about.

I may be in a minority here but this year’s The Bear and the Hare cartoon offering with Lily Allen’s breathy, slowed down version of a lack-lustre Keane song as the soundtrack left me cold. Previous John Lewis Christmas adverts have almost reduced me to tears (genuine tears of emotion, not frustrated tears of anger and rage but I find this year’s offering dull in the extreme).

My parting, if sobering thought, on the traditions of Christmas come courtesy of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) who have sent out their festive message regarding the ‘tradition’ of alcohol-fuelled Christmas parties.

According to the IAM, last Christmas, there were 280 people killed in drink-drive accidents – 12 per cent more than the 250 in 2010. This is the first increase in 30 years.

Without wishing to be a killjoy, I think that’s one Christmas tradition we can all do without.