Initial peparations for Christmas begin early. It is common for Mom to make the mince 3 months before Christmas in order to allow it to mature in time for the mince pies at Christmastime.. RECIPE

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the family join in, in hanging decorations in the home. Red and green are the traditional colours of Christmas. Green represents the continuance of life through Jesus. Red symbolises the blood that Jesus shed at his Crucifixion.
We hang greenery around the house such as evergreen boughs, holly and mistletoe.

 

There is much enjoyment and thoughtfullness in sending and receivng Christmas cards, a practice that began in the 1840's.

 

A week before Christmas, all of the family take great pleasure in trimming the Christmas tree, which is usually a fir. It is then planted in the middle of a great round table and towers high above our heads. Wrapped around the tree as garland is a long string of popcorn, and candies and cakes, hung with ribbon. On the branches are candles and imitation and real fruits. There is rosy-cheeked dolls, hiding behind the green leaves. Perched among the boughs, there is jolly, broad-faced little men, much more agreeable in appearance than many real men - and no wonder, for their heads took off, and showed them to be full of sugar-plums; there are tambourines, paint-boxes, sweetmeat boxes, and all kinds of boxes; there are trinkets for the elder girls, far brighter than any grown-up gold and jewels. There is a motley collection of odd objects: dolls, miniature fairy furniture, musical instruments - fiddles, drums, tambourines - tiny boxes, little baskets, colourful pincushions, jewels, swords, banners and guns. Lace, doilies, paper cutouts, and of course, scores of real candies festooned the Victorian Christmas tree.


As Christmas approaches we indulge in 'Wassailing' which is a tradition that goes back as far as the 1400's. We go door to door, bearing good wishes and a wassail bowl of hot spiced ale. RECIPE It is served from huge bowls made of silver or pewter. The wassail bowl is passed around with the greeting 'Wassail'. It gets it's name from the Old English term "was hael", meaning "be well". In return for the wassail, the people in the houses give us drink, money and Christmas fayre and they believe they would receive good luck for the year to come.


Our favourite Wassail Carol goes like this:
(Click the triangle to listen to the music)

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wassailing, so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year,
And God send you a happy New Year!

 

From St. Thomas's Day (December 21) up until the morning of Christmas Day, we go Caroling. We go house to house singing Christmas carols and collect money for charity. (This is also one of England's oldest Christmas customs). Until the early 1800s the church had very small orchestra consisting of tenor violins, and a treble violin, violoncello, and various vocalists, which was in time replaced by 'the church organ'. This 'quire', in days of yore, would travel about the village before Christmas and perform carols with zest.

 

Some favourite Christmas carols are:

Away In A Manger
Deck the Halls
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
O Little Down of Bethlehem
Once In Royal David's City
See Amid the Winter's Snow
What Child Is this (Greensleaves)


 

Christmas Eve:

On the morning of Christmas Eve, the whole family, led by Father, sally outdoors for the purpose of cutting branches of evergreen, and of selecting a great log of wood to burn on the dining room hearth. On our return, Father places it on the hearth, making libations by sprinkling the trunk with oil, salt and mulled wine and saying suitable prayers. The yule-log is then kindled, and the rooms are decked with the shining branches of evergreens. As it burns, we sing, eat and drink, and tell tales.The yule-log is kept burning brightly throughout the twelve days of Christmas and we keep the charred remains because it is good luck to kindle the log of the following year with them.

 

Night-time:

The night before Christmas we attend church service and upon returning home, the children hang stockings from the mantel and hope that Father Christmas will leave some treats or gifts in them, especially since they've been good little boys and girls this year! In anticipation and gratitude they leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas.

 

 

To add good cheer to the merry-making of English Christmases, posset is drunk on Christmas Eve. It is made of hot ale combined with spices, lemon and sugar, and bits of oatcake and bread were added. The posset is taken with a spoon, and lucky, indeed, is the fortunate youth or maiden who draws out the lucky coin or the wedding-ring which had been dropped in the posset-pot! RECIPE

Also on Christmas Eve, we offer each caroling guest a posset cup and a piece of apple pie or tart.

 

Christmas Morning:

Mom usually prepares grilled rashers, poached eggs on toast, muffins, and baked mushrooms for breakfast.

After putting on our 'Sunday best' we then head back to church and sing more carols.

Christmas Dinner

At lunch or early afternoon we have our Christmas dinner. The Christmas meal is a meal to remember throughout the coming year, and preparations started weeks ahead of time.


Turkey or goose dinner plus... stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy.

Beside each place setting is a Christmas Cracker – a paper tube, brightly wrapped and twisted at both ends. These deceptively peaceful decorations capture the magic of the season, for their appeal is in the ‘crack’ as they’re pulled apart and out falls a tissue hat, a joke or riddle and a present, rings in plastic – or even, for the romantic, a chance to offer the real thing. The paper crown inside we wear on our heads during the meal.

 

 

 


For dessert we usually enjoy a big bowl of plum pudding, with silver coins hidden inside. Plum pudding is the triumph of Mom's art. RECIPE

In the afternoon, our excitement and anticipation crescendo when we finally arrive at the time when we all gather around the Christmas tree to pass around our presents to each other and the ones that Father Christmas had left for us the night before. He had arrived with his sleigh and reindeer and slid down the chimney Christmas Eve, filling our stockings and leaving presents under the tree. We KNEW he had been there, because the mince and brandy had been consumed.

Christmas Tea

After all the excitement of opening our gifts and playing with them or trying them out, we relax at the dining room table for our Christmas Tea. It consists of mince pies and Christmas Cake.MINCE RECIPE CAKE RECIPE

 

Night-time:

Christmas evening we visit friends, and family, or someone might put on a party where we would drink and be merry, often dancing takes place.

 

Another of our favourite Christmas drinks is 'Mead' which is a honey-wine. We add cinnamon, allspice, coriander, and cloves to achieve a heated, spicy drink that warms us to our toes. RECIPE


Mummers and pantomime are also very popular at this time of year.
Late in the evening, happy and weary from all the recent activities we sit around the yule log for a while before retiring.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day (when Good Kind Wenceslas looked out). It is on this day that the alms box at every church (hence the name Boxing Day) is opened and the contents are distributed to the poor.

For us personally, Boxing Day is spent with family and friends with lots of food and sharing of friendship and love.

 

 

Happy Christmas!

 

WebSite designed by Dover Studio ©2003-2005 All Rights Reserved
Visit: www.doverstudio.net ...Contact: info@doverstudio.net


No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior permission from the author. ©2003-2005