The penguins are back … which can only mean one thing this December.
The fictional characters are once again the face of this year’s humorous Christmas cards, unveiled by the Orange Institution.
Having previously staged satirical protests, including support for the Orange brethren at Ligoniel, the aquatic birds on this occasion are bidding seasonal goodwill, whilst focusing on another significant date in the calendar.
Struggling with a large Christmas tree and decorations, one penguin is wishing it was the Twelfth of July every day.
In another, a snowman wearing an Orange collarette with lodge number 1795 – referencing the formation year of the Loyal Institution – bids recipients festive joy this Christmas.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the Institution’s seasonal initiative always proves extremely popular, with orders being placed from across the world.
He said: “We very much hope this year’s range of Christmas cards will raise a smile when they drop through letterboxes at home and abroad.
“In previous years, demand has exceeded supply which would indicate they are purchased not only by Orangemen and their families, but also capture the imagination of the wider public.
“We may have our differences in Northern Ireland – nevertheless, we all share the same sense of humour.”
In addition to the light-hearted designs, a religious card focusing on next year’s Reformation anniversary highlights the influence of Martin Luther as a prolific hymn writer.
There is also a replication of a typical First World War Christmas card, depicting the 36th (Ulster) Division logo. This card is particularly relevant this year, given the commemorations for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Mr Stevenson added: “Christmas is importantly a time for family as we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is always a time for reflection. This year, it is also appropriate we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf 100 years ago.”
As well as Christmas cards, the Grand Lodge shop at Schomberg House is also stocking a number of new products.
Among them is an extensive range of Grand Lodge and Museum of Orange Heritage branded clothing, including coats, fleeces, polo shirts and beanies.
A golf umbrella, displaying the since 1795 logo, is also expected to be popular with Orangemen given the unpredictable weather of the annual parading season.
The full range of Christmas cards and other gifts are available to purchase via the online shop at www.grandorangelodge.co.uk, in person at Orange headquarters, or by calling 028 9070 1122 for more information.