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Ghosts Of Christmas Past Come To Newcastle & Sunderland

Events Exhibitions Features

A Tyneside business is bringing the ghosts of Christmas past to two winter markets this festive season with its nostalgic and retro giftware. The company is turning back the clock to the last century with stalls at Newcastle’s St James’ Festive Fayre and Sunderland’s Frost Village Market, to help shoppers revisit the past.

‘Thenadays’ is making a name for itself rekindling 20th Century memories through its retro, cultural and heritage inspired gifts. The new venture’s interesting name is actually an old English word - a partner to “nowadays” – and evokes a sentimental and wistful glance back to ‘then’, when things seemed to be better. Perhaps surprisingly, given the British inclination towards nostalgia, it’s a word which fell out of common use in the early 1900s.

Nostalgia is, of course, nothing new – in many ways revisiting our formative years is a national pastime – and several retailers sell vintage and retro gifts, but most focus on a few influential decades or styles. Regardless of what periods they cover though, they don’t help customers to find a gift specifically based on what was around when someone was in their youth. Thenadays, however, thoughtfully curates its range to make this easy - connecting the age of the intended recipient with the availability and popularity of products and brands when they were young.

The idea came from attempts by the founder, David Heppell, to buy presents for his father, “every birthday, Fathers Day, Christmas, and so on, was a problem as he has no specific hobbies or interests to help direct me towards a relevant gift. To make matters worse, he has no interest in golf, which seems to be the go-to gift idea for men ‘of a certain age’. A few years ago, he said to me ‘I may be older on the outside, but I still feel 18 inside…’ – and I don’t feel as old as I am either. It started me thinking about the importance of our ‘formative years’, usually our teens and early twenties, and the fondness we have for them.”

Presents from an earlier era are also an interesting way to make sure cultural history and recollections are passed on to the next generation – and helps link the generations together. It’s sad to think that some adults have never even heard of, say, Tommy Cooper (yes, really!). There are many, though, who are curious about what came before – what happened ‘back in the day’. It’s a modern version of the oral tradition – the young finding out about what parents or grandparents have been through – the old(er) ones being reminded of things they thought they’d forgotten. Start reminiscing and one memory inevitably cascades into another in the telling. It’s a lovely way to connect with family and friends - who they were then - and who they still are now. It helps to bypass our famous British reserve.

Many say it was the Victorians who built modern Britain – but while they provided the foundations, and instilled some of the values, we’re now much more of a product of the twentieth century. Our recorded cultural history (film, music, television and consumer goods) has never been more available. Still recognisably ‘modern Britain’, the last century put us where we are now – the memories are still within touching-distance. Thenadays reminds us of those days – with fragments remade as they were originally, or updated, revised or refreshed – always harking back to lingering memories of ‘old friends’.

It’s easy to forget the past in the hustle and bustle of the here-and-now, but it’s also useful, sometimes, to reflect on where we’ve come from, what made us who we are, what we loved as children or young adults, what we’ve lost – and gained – over the years, what we’ve perhaps only really come to appreciate in later life. You may even remember something you thought you’d forgotten…

Thenadays will be at Newcastle’s St James’ Festive Fayre on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 November and Sunderland’s Frost Village Market on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December. The shop is online at

More about St James’ Festive Fayre (Newcastle)

More About Frost Winter Market (Sunderland)

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