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How the Victorians Changed Christmas by Anna Mazzola

Posted on: 24/11/2016 with tags: Anna Mazzola, christmas, Christmas Cards, Christmas Tree, Crackers, Father Christmas, The Unseeing, Victorians, Christmas, Victorian

Hate Christmas? Blame the Victorians. At the beginning of the 19th century, Christmas was barely celebrated. It wasn’t just Ebenezer Scrooge who begrudged his clerk the day off – many didn’t consider the 25th December to be a holiday. There were no crackers, no cards, no Santa, and no Christmas trees, at least not in England. By mid-century, however, Christmas was big business. Charles Dickens himself was partly to blame. A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, helped to popularise among the newly…

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Roast peacock for a medieval Christmas

Posted on: 07/12/2015 with tags: christmas, karen maitland, Medieval, richard II, the raven's head, wassial, Medieval

Karen Maitland, author of The Raven’s Head and The Plague Charmer writes about a typical medieval Christmas banquet… If you’re feverishly shopping for all those meals you’ll have to cook during the extra-long Christmas weekend this year, spare a thought for medieval cooks. In centuries past, Christmas lasted not just two or three days but twelve, from Christmas Day to Epiphany on 6th January. In 1398, after King Richard II remodelled Westminster Hall, originally built in 1097/8 by William the Co…

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Christmas at the court of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Posted on: 02/12/2015 with tags: alison weir, christmas, henry viii, katherine of aragon, Tudor

Henry VIII always kept the feast of Christmas with ‘much nobleness and open court’. It was incumbent upon kings to dispense hospitality throughout the twelve days of the festival, and in Henry’s reign more than a thousand people dined at court during the Yuletide season, and an Italian visitor noted that on one occasion the guests remained at table for over seven hours. All meats were carried into the dining hall with ceremony; far from confirming to the chicken-throwing image of Henry VIII popu…

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The last Russian Christmas

Posted on: 01/12/2015 with tags: christmas, laurie graham, Russia, 20th Century

Christmas 1916.  In just a few weeks  –  bearing in mind that the Russian Orthodox church used (and still uses) the Julian calendar, with Christmas celebrated on January 7th  – the cataclysm of the February Revolution was going to change Russia forever. The way Christmas was celebrated depended very much on who you were and where you lived. In 1916 St Petersburg was still the capital and its inhabitants had a high opinion of themselves and their (literally) westward-looking city. They looked dow…

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