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