Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Around the World – 12 Days of the Yule Log

Light the Yule Log and begin the 12 days of Christmas. While Advent is solemn and more religious in nature, the 12 days of Christmas is for merry making and fun. Advent is a German tradition, but the English have adopted the Advent calendar and the Advent Candle. Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas, but the 12 days of Christmas begin on the 26th of December and end on the 6th of January. The 12 days are said to have started with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the 16th Century. This tradition is steeped in urban legend and maybe some truth. The original story goes that the Catholics were prohibited from speaking of their faith during the medieval times. In order to get around that and still teach their youngsters about their faith, they developed the song version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Their True Love is God and me in the song means every baptized Christian. My true love gave to me ……. Other references place this song as a French song that was chanted and not sung.

Burn the Yule log for 12 days and do not let it go out!

True? Urban legend? The song lives on, and the tradition is still celebrated and kicked off on St. Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day. This day of celebration follows the traditional 25th of December and Boxing Day is rather an English tradition that has seeped over into other cultures. This is the day that employers would box up their leftovers and some random gifts for their servants or employees. It originated from the church as this was the day that the priest was to empty the alms box and hand out the proceeds to the poor. The Victorians took it to a higher degree by casting off their leftovers at their servants.

An interesting side note on St. Stephen’s Day, which was covered in the Irish traditions. The wren is said to have given him away when he was hiding in a bush, which is why the wren has been persecuted throughout the Irish history. Stephen was the first Christian martyr mentioned in the Bible. Those who know the old song Good King Wenceslas will recognize the verse about the feast of Stephen. Catchy tune that you may be humming the rest of the day.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel


"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."


"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather


"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."


In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are responsible for many of the current Christmas traditions in countries England occupied.

Every Christmas Day, the Queen addresses the British citizens as was first done by King George the Fifth. He broadcast a part of a speech by Rudyard Kipling that began with “I speak now from my home and from my heart, to you all..” Now the speech by the Queen is broadcast during the Christmas feast. Most are digesting food during her speech, and it is said that less than 35 percent actually listen to her at all.

As seems to be the case in most countries, there was a period of time when Christmas was illegal. In 1647, Cromwell put an end to the pagan holiday of Christmas, which has a lot of traditional roots in the celebrations by the Druids and winter holidays. The decision to outlaw Christmas was more along the lines of the fact that the Puritans were in control, and they did not like any celebrations or display of merriment as they considered it immoral and decadent. Less than 15 years later, they kicked old Cromwell to the curb and reinstated Christmas.

This is a law: The Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551 that is still on the books today. It states that every British citizen MUST attend a Christian Christmas service on Christmas Day. They cannot use any vehicle to get to the service. According to the law, this was enacted to make the rich walk to church and be humble for one day out of the year. Naturally, this law is not kept, but interesting that they felt the need to enact it in the first part. The true service attendees run about 13 percent of the population, and they drive to church.

The Christmas Tree is set up in all the homes in the tradition of Prince Albert who brought the trees from Germany to Britain. He wanted to share his traditions with Queen Victoria, and he saw the tree as the way to do that. Some homes even have more than one tree. The decoration of the tree is a family affair. The decorations include holly, ivy and mistletoe. Queen Victoria made Christmas a time of gift giving and merriment for all. Martin Luther is said to be the first one who ever decorated a Christmas Tree.

Father Christmas brings gifts to the good boys and girls who have put out stockings or pillowcases. He traditionally likes to eat mince pie and a glass of sherry. The children write letters to Father Christmas, but many instead of mailing them, toss them in the fireplace in order for the ashes to go up the chimney and directly to Greenland where Father Christmas and his elves make toys.

Christmas Eve on the 24th is filled with candlelight services at church, caroling, family gatherings and pub runs. Not necessarily in that order. The celebration also includes Nativity Plays where a cast reenacts the manager scene and the birth of Christ.

Driving the turkeys

Christmas Day is filled with food, glorious food, we’re anxious to try some… oops, wrong song. It is Dickens though. The first course starts with prawns and smoked salmon. Victorian England roasted a turkey, goose or duck. In the Middle Ages, they roasted skinless peacocks and swans, using the very expensive saffron oil and butter to baste them before roasting. They were then wrapped in their own skin and feathers before popping them in the oven. 

Those who participated in roasting a goose had to save to buy the goose, and they were members of a Goose Club, which is the same as what used to be the Christmas Club in the United States. Instead of putting a couple dollars away in a savings account to buy Christmas presents, the working poor of London paid their butcher a couple pence a week towards a goose come Christmas.

When the geese and turkeys came to town on Christmas, they were herded down the streets towards the markets. Many of the fowl were from places like France or Germany, but some were raised in Norfolk. The turkeys wore boots to protect their feet from the cobblestones. There is a mighty goose dinner in the Dickens tale of a Christmas Carol.

Christmas dinner with a turkey that wore boots

The dinner is filled with potatoes, vegetables, nuts, parsnips, brussel sprouts, bread sauce, gravies and the famous Christmas pudding served in brandy. Figgy pudding is another one of Prince Albert’s contributions to the Christmas table. He loved the fruit pudding. It traditionally is a spiced porridge that is derived from the Celtic harvest legend of the god Dagda who took all good things from the harvest and stirred it up into a dessert. The more common place plum pudding served today has nuts, spices, black treacle and brandy. The pudding is filled with alcohol soaked dried fruit.

The pudding is a family event, and if the pudding is made from scratch at home, every member of the family must take a turn stirring the pudding and making a wish. It must be stirred from east to west since that is the direction that the wise men traveled. There are some who like to hide a token in the pudding, like the Christ child is hidden in bread in some cultures, which could even be a spin off of the Romans need to hide a bean in their food to appease the god Saturnalia. The pudding wish comes true if you get a mouthful of pudding and it contains a coin or other hidden object. Your wish may be for medical attention because you are choking.

Christmas cakes are also very rich and decadent. Dried fruit, nuts, black treacle, candied peel and marzipan or almond paste make up the basic cake served at the Christmas dinner. The royal icing, which is something most bakers are familiar with, was added to the top of the cake. The cake is more than a dessert, it is made up weeks in advance and used as a display throughout the holidays.

Most of the desserts served are made in advance, and there is a lot of preparation of the food that goes on prior to the big day. These preparations involve most family members, and it is a source of family time together.

Have some Christmas cake

This is just a small taste of the rich traditions that the English have served up for the holidays. Here are some lovely gifts that Queen Victoria would have been proud to give to her family members.

hollyknittercreations

Hand Knit Pretty Pink Lovely Lace Leaves Mini Wash Cloth or Dish Cloth

Hand Knit Pretty Pink Lovely Lace Leaves Mini Wash Cloth or Dish Cloth

specialtivity

Pink Wings, Crystal and Green and Purple Glass Angel Earrings

Pink Wings, Crystal and Green and Purple Glass Angel Earrings

Gingers-Garden

Hot Pink Passion Floral Handmade Artisan Soap oval cold process

Hot Pink Passion Floral Handmade Artisan Soap oval cold process

Readesigns

Angel Light Pink Crystal Drop Earrings Dangle Earrings

Angel  Light Pink Crystal  Drop Earrings Dangle Earrings

LittleApples

Fluffy Pink Dress Blue Flower Hat Girl Glass Necklace Keychain Gift

Fluffy Pink Dress Blue Flower Hat Girl Glass Necklace Keychain Gift

craftingmemories

Knitted Pink Tooth Fairy Bag

Knitted Pink Tooth Fairy Bag

Creationsbyfrannie

Personalized Gift "My Baby and Me" in Spanish Keepsake

Personalized Gift for Newborn Keepsake and Remembrance

bluemorningexpressions

Handmade Polymer Clay Bead Necklace Pink Gold Chain Stripe Feathered

Bubble Gum and Berry Pink Polymer Clay Necklace

BigTRanchSoap

Heart Bath Fizzies - Bath Bombs - Polynesian Red Scented

Heart Bath Fizzies - Bath Bombs - Polynesian Red Scented - Gift for Mom, Sister

folkstrokesupplies

Pink Princess.Drop Rhinestone Applique with Milky White Seed Beads

In 5 Colors.Rhinestone Applique with Milky White Seed Beads in Drop Shape

TheTwistedRedhead

Beaded Chopsticks and Rest, Wire-Wrapped Rows of Purple and Deep Pink

Beaded Chopsticks and Rest, Wire-Wrapped Rows of Purple and Deep Pink

SewAmazin

Candy Cane Westie Terrier Applique Embroidered Hand Towels Pink

Candy Cane Westie Terrier Applique Embroidered Hand Towels Pink

ElunaJewelry

Tiny Pink Niobium Hoop Earrings, Rose Pink Backward Hoop Earrings

Tiny Pink Niobium Hoop Earrings, Rose Pink Backward Hoop Earrings

LilBitOLove

Girls Hunt Too Only Prettier Design B Vinyl Decal Deer Hunting 2 Color

Girls Hunt Too Only Prettier Design B Vinyl Decal Deer Hunting 2 Color

evezbeadz

Pink Sweet Treat Kitsch Casting Kitties Silver Pendant

Pink Sweet Treat Kitsch Casting Kitties Silver Pendant

adorebynat

Pink Elephant Favor Tags for Girl Baby Shower or Birthday

Pink Elephant Favor Tags for Girl Baby Shower or Birthday

ButterflyInTheAttic

Christmas Gift Tags - Upcycled Books - Hand Stamped DieCut - Gift Wrap

Christmas Gift Tags - Upcycled Books - Hand Stamped DieCut - Gift Wrap

Umeboshi

Mottled Red and Clear Fused Glass Heart Pendant, Hints of Green - Pink

Mottled Red and Clear Fused Glass Heart Pendant, Hints of Green - Pink

KatsAllThat

Butterfly Link and Pink Coral Crystal Antique Brass Chandelier Earrings

Butterfly Link and Pink Coral Crystal Antque Brass Chandelier Earrings

Covergirlbeads

Red And Pink Large Hole Lampwork Bracelet Charm Bead With Aurae Dots

Red And Pink Large Hole Lampwork Bracelet Charm Bead With Aurae Dots

jnldesigns

Antique Vintage Brass Pink Tricycle Necklace

Antique Vintage Brass  Pink Tricycle Necklace

PrettyGonzo

Gemstone Bracelet with Zebra Jasper, Cherry Quartz, Copper, Leaf Charm, Handmade

Gemstone Bracelet with Zebra Jasper, Cherry Quartz, Copper, Leaf Charm, Handmade

PutmanLakeDesigns

Quilted Victorian Table Runner w/ Tea Pots and Flowers w/ Pink Tones

Quilted Victorian Table Runner w/ Tea Pots and Flowers w/ Pink Tones

Wyverndesigns

Celtic Knot Work Dragon Polymer Clay Earrings

Celtic Knot Work Dragon Polymer Clay Earrings

QuiltTops

Quilted Tote Bag Pink Poppies Amy Butler Fabric

Quilted Tote Bag Amy Butler Fabric Fresh Poppies

ShadowDogDesigns

Paintbrush Jasper Handmade Necklace Sponge Coral Unique OOAK Jewelry

Paintbrush Jasper Handmade Necklace Sponge Coral Unique OOAK Jewelry

Thesingingbeader

Dressy evening bright pink crystal necklace Swarovski sterling silver

Dressy evening bright pink crystal necklace Swarovski sterling silver

TheOldBarnDoor

Pale Pink Poppy Macro Floral Nature Photography on Blank Note Card

Pale Pink Poppy Macro Floral Nature Photography on Blank Note Card

craftsofthepast

Sparkling Pink Large Faceted Rhinestone, Silver Plated, Bead Necklace

Sparkling Pink Large Faceted Rhinestone, Silver Plated, Bead Necklace

ResetarGlassArt

Tiny Pink Flower Earrings, Sterling Silver Studs, Handmade Fused Glass

Tiny Pink Flower Earrings, Sterling Silver Studs, Handmade Fused Glass

jazzitupwithdesignsbynancy

Raspberry Sherbet Cats eye Handmade beaded bangle bracelet Reversible

Raspberry Sherbet Cats eye Handmade beaded bangle bracelet Reversible

dianesdangles

Pink and Burgundy Chandelier Swarovski Crystal Sterling Earrings

Pink and Burgundy Chandelier Swarovski Crystal Sterling Earrings

 

Bring me some figgy pudding, bring me some figgy pudding, bring me some figgy pudding and make it to go!

We are off to our last stop of the season. Hope you have your mittens, hats and warm boots because it is going to get COLD!

Enjoy,

Julie and Blu

26 comments:

  1. Just hand me that figgy pudding, right now! Just no meat ;) Thanks, Julie, for this lovely description of the tradition that I know. The photos make me hungry! Will share, of course.
    Anna

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  2. Wonderful article Julie! Gives more meaning to Christmas! Thank you for the article and thank you for including my earrings!
    Kathy

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  3. Was sitting here drooling reading the description of the foods. Figgy pudding for me, too! And there were several laugh out loud lines (: Such a fascinating post - am loving all your Christmas traditions posts. Am sorry to see them end in a week. Thank you for including my necklace as a gift Queen Victoria might have given! Will share all around. Seamus wishes Blu much happiness in the snow - snowballs sounds like so much fun to him (although Seamus is not quite sure what a snowball is - LOL!). Thanks again, Julie.

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  4. I love this bit of fascinating history! I'm not so sure about wanting to throw leftovers at the servants though! LOL, I would be one of them! Thanks for featuring my glass heart pendant. Happy shopping everyone!

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  5. Turkeys with boots, huh? So funny! Enjoyed reading very much, Julie, and enjoyed seeing the great assortment of pinks. Thank you for showing my crystal necklace! - The Singing Beader

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  6. Thank you for this fascinating article, and thanks for including my chandelier crystals earring! Sharing.

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  7. I hope you love putting these 'tradition' blogs together, because now you've done it...we're hooked! Lots of interesting facts and tall tales, maybe? And yes, I agree with Catherine - some definite LOLs (I'd be the one choking...probably on the turkey boots). Thanks, again, for another fascinating glimpse into our history. And for including my chopsticks with these other positively propitious pink presentations!

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  8. Truly amazing finds! Your blog is always wonderful!

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this post on English Christmas traditions, especially your humor! Geese waddling the streets is a common sight where I live, minus the boots. Now a certain song is running through my head... The Victorians weren't as tight laced as they seemed, even if they did have to walk to church years ago. You chose some pretty pink items that hopefully will be boxed up for the servants or other special folk this holiday season! Pinned to my board on Pinterest and shared on my Facebook page.

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  10. I love the history of Christmases around the world. I enjoy sharing the information with my Grandkids. ( They go to school and share....teachers love it) . Julie thank you for sharing and thanks for including our necklace.

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  11. Such an interesting read, a lot of these traditions of course are carried on here in Canada. Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful storied from around the world, I'm really going to miss them. Thank you for including my angel earrings.

    Kathy :)

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  15. A fun trip to Julie & Blu's! Always a pleasure. Thank You. Will Share. Thx for including my kitty! ~Eve

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  16. You have such interesting blog posts! Thank you for including my Floral Pink soap.

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  17. Everythings coming up rosy, shiny and lovely in this blog post. Love your Christmas histories and photos.

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  18. I think this is one of my favorite tradition history you have posted so far. A lot of very interesting information. Thank you for all the time and energy you put into these. Off to promote.

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  20. Another wonderful installment, Julie and beautiful Blu! I've so enjoyed this series - thanks so much for all the work you put into it. Thank you, too, for including my bracelet here. :) Have tweeted and will tweet. Happy holidays!

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  21. Another interesting read with my morning cup of coffee. Thank you for including my pink flower earrings!

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  22. How is it possible to gain weight reading a blog! Wonderful information and the treasures offered up are stunning. Thanks for having me along

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  23. Thank you Julie and Blu for another great Christmas tour and thank you for including my knitted tooth fairy bag.

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  24. Another great Christmas tradition article, Julie and Blue! Interesting and so enjoyable to read. Thank you so much for including my elephant tags.

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  25. Thank you Julie for all of that amazing history! Love your promotion of hand made artisans, we sure have many talented people in our community!

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  26. Amazing post! Thank you for sharing! =)

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