Christmas Foods and Traditions: Stargazy Pie

I watched a good movie this week called Ladies in Lavender. The plot is so-so, and I don’t know where the lavender comes in, but my favorite actresses, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are featured in it, so it makes my Favorites List. The movie was filmed in Cornwall and the coastal scenery is beautiful…

Christmas Foods and Traditions: Cooking With Nigella

Last year for Christmas I gave myself one of the best gifts ever! Yes, I do give myself Christmas gifts, why not? When you get up in years you can do whatever you want. It was a subscription to Acorn TV, the All British TV Series. I love it and have watched nearly every show…

Christmas Traditions: The Poor Chimney Sweep

In Victorian times everyone would want their chimney swept before Christmas. Today we see the chimney sweep displayed on holiday cards as a cherub little boy, broom in hand. But, do we really know what it was like to be a chimney sweep? The chimney sweep was an essential part of London since 1200 when…

Christmas Traditions: The Greenery and Candles

The Victorians loved bringing in the countryside for their seasonal decorations. Fresh greenery, such as berried evergreens, mistletoe, ivy and later holly were made into decorations for many weeks before the holiday. Holly was used in Roman solstice ceremonies and it was believed that the red berries would ward off evil spirits and stormy weather….

Christmas Traditions: The Christmas Tree

The first Christmas tree was a fir tree and is thought to have been planted by St Boniface (675-754) in the center of the German town of Geismar after he had cut down the sacred tree, Thor.  Eight hundred years later, the tradition of putting up and decorating a fir tree in the winter months…

Christmas Foods and Traditions: Snowflakes

Snowflakes are a collection of snow crystals which fall through the earth’s atmosphere in a range of temperatures and humidity fluctuations, developing an infinite number of shapes. Individual snowflakes differ in detail from one another, but may be categorized in eight broad classifications and at least 80 individual variants. The main shapes for ice crystals,…

Christmas Traditions: The Postbox and Postman

Yesterday we learned about the first Christmas Card so it is fitting that we learn about the post-box and the postman today! Letterboxes had been known in France from the beginning of the 17th century. In 1653, the first post boxes are believed to have been installed in and around Paris. By 1829, post boxes…

Christmas Traditions: The First Christmas Card

The first Christmas Card was created by Sir Henry Cole, in London. Cole was a prominent innovator in the 1800’s. He  managed the construction of Albert Hall, arranged for the Great Exhibition in 1851 and was the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In his spare time he ran an art shop on…

Christmas Foods and Traditions: Chocolate

The Spanish first brought the cocoa bean to Europe from Central America. Cocoa pods fell from the cocoa tree or were cut off. The cocoa pods were easy to harvest because they grew on the trunk of the tree or on large branches near the ground. The harvested pods were split open and the pulp…

Christmas Foods and Traditions: The Trencher in Elizabethan Times

The 16th century was a fast-paced and fascinating time for the whole of Europe. Improvements in design of ships meant they could travel further and faster, resulting in the circumnavigation of the world. Queen Elizabeth granted Sir Walter Raleigh a Royal Charter, which authorized him to explore and colonize any “remote, heathen and barbarous countries,…

Christmas Foods and Traditions: The Tudor Christmas and the Trencher

In 1526 the Eltham Ordinances were written at Eltham Palace. These were rules and regulations monitoring food purchases, storage and distribution of food across all the palaces. The Eltham Ordinances also laid down instructions for court ceremony, for example how the food was presented and the manner in which it had to be taken to…

The Elizabethan Christmas and the Tale of Oranges

To continue with my Christmas Foods And Traditions Series we will look today at the Elizabethan period of England. As a queen, Elizabeth had access to some of the most luxurious foods that were on offer now from many parts of the world. Her food reflected the wealth and power of England and was an important…

Christmas Foods And Traditions: Oranges

Why Do We Put Oranges in Stockings at Christmas? 1. St. Nicholas and his sacks of gold. One explanation for this tradition stretches back hundreds of years to St. Nicholas, who was born in what is now present-day Turkey. He inherited a large sum of money, but devoted his life to helping others, and eventually…