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 The Ghost of Christmas Past.

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 28 Nov 2012, 19:07

As we are heading into the silly season, and those of us who would wish to avoid or ignore the hoo haa but haven't a hope in hell, I thought a look at how Christmas was celebrated historically would be more interesting than the plastic commercialism that encompasses the tradition today.

A Tudor Xmas pudding was slightly different than today, a combination of corn, oates, stock, fruit, sugar and spices and mixed into a watery gruel. Or a Xmas feast could have included any of these receipes from The Good Huswifes Jewell 1596 http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/ghj1596.txt

No Xmas trees in Tudor times but a home would have been decorated with greenery, and an evergreen wreathe or kissing bough hung over the door so visitors could be embraced beneath it and any bad feelings forgotten.

The Xmas feast was traditionally held on Twelfth Night up until Victorian times, and the highlight was a Twelfth Night cake which would contain a bean. Whoever found the bean would be pronounced the king or queen of celebrations, a precursor to our coin in the Xmas pud possibly?

It was also customary to exchange presents at New Year, again up until Victorian times. Gifts were often of food, sweets or scented pomanders.

And Xmas games would have included Blind Man's Bluff, which has been around since the 14th century.

What other Xmas traditions do you know of from centuries past, or even from your own childhood?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 28 Nov 2012, 19:37

In some cultures the Winter Solstice was marked with human sacrifice, sometimes of children. In many ways this tradition has really only slightly changed form, I feel.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 28 Nov 2012, 20:55

We used to have proper carol singers - who knew that, litugically, Christmas carols should NOT be aired prior to Christmas Eve (and that doesn't start till sundown. "The evening and the morning were the nth day"). Not quite Hardy - the accompaniment was a man on a melodeon, not a consort of viols. Nowadays, we get Rotary, and a consort of vials (or even viles) a fortnight early, and they play tapes, don't even sing themselves.



We always burned our holly and other green decorations (except one sprig of mistletoe retained to ward off lightning) on Twelfth Night. Nowadays we just have a flaming row as to which IS 12th night.



Oh well - Sinterklaas will be here next week. I'm hoping Black Piet does his stuff with some of the less amenable sprogs from work ....
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 29 Nov 2012, 10:05

In medieval times practical jokes were commonly incorporated into the Christmas Day communal feast. Exploding pigs, live chickens plucked and painted to look like they had been roasted (which then ran amok when stabbed with a knife), animal dung painted to look like berries and mixed in with the real ones, salted beer and various other japes livened up proceedings no end - and all the better if it was one of the toffs who fell for them. This tied in with that other Christmas tradition where the lowly were elevated and the top brass demoted for the day (though I imagine there were still limits to this arrangement and that "boxing day" the day after may have had an etymology far removed from "putting presents in boxes for the tradesmen"). Of course these traditions were based on a form of festival at this time of year long predating christianity. The reversal of social roles was a very old tradition in various European societies' associated with winter festivals and does not really square with any specific christian doctrine - hence the umpteen examples of church condemnation of the practise.

The lovey-dovey "kissing bough", despite ID's inference, can only be traced back to the 1700s - and became restricted to mistletoe even later. I fancy this and other similar developments signalled the beginning of the rot - when Christmas changed from a time of actual merriment to a carefully coordinated and controlled event governed primarily by social etiquette and middle class banality. Once all the fun, spontaneity and innocence had been sucked out of it the resulting vacuum simply opened the door to the creeping materialism we see today. Children, being innocent spontaneous and fun-loving by design, managed to preserve some vestige of the old solstice abandon and merriment, but now even their fiefdom of fun has been trespassed upon by commercial and extremely regimented social expectations.

Progress, I suppose ...
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 29 Nov 2012, 15:51

Mmm interesting, the kissing bough thingy came from an English Heritage site too, and now I'm having trouble finding the site again to check.

Can't the practical jokes et al tied to Xmas celebrations, or The Lord of Misrule trace it's origins in the Roman Saturnalia?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 29 Nov 2012, 16:23

Saturnalia featured aspects of that carry on, but that just meant that it had originated in a form of celebration much more ancient and which had long-standing versions in many different cultures by the time of the Romans' particular variety.

There are loads of websites which make very definite claims about Christmas traditions, some of which are very hairy indeed. I trust more reputable sources such as Gunnell, Heizmann or Clunies Ross's analysis of non-christian mythology in Europe.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Fri 30 Nov 2012, 00:05

And early in the modern traditions, Santa in Europe first wore blue. Folk lore of his origins and in German sources is dark. Must have something to do with all that heavily forested land. I admit to feeling fear in such places, especially as a child when I was alone - very Grimm.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Sun 01 Dec 2013, 10:45

Seven interesting Medieval Xmas traditions

http://www.medievalists.net/2012/12/20/seven-medieval-christmas-traditions/

And a look at the origins of Christmas and how it was celebrated in the Middle Ages, with videos and lots of links to further articles

http://www.medievalists.net/2010/12/25/christmas-in-the-middle-ages/
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Sun 01 Dec 2013, 15:03

Today is the last Sunday before Advent and so it’s ‘Pudding Sunday’. Today you should all be making your Christmas puddings, and getting every person in the household to stir the mixture whilst making a wish! That said though, true afficionados of the Christmas pudding, my mother included, would say that one should always eat the pudding that was made the year before and so had been allowed to mature for 13 months.
 
But anyway, I’m not a great fan of Christmas pudding, and I tend to side with the Puritans regarding mince pies as a work of the devil. So I thought instead I’d make a proper spiced minced meat Christmas pie to an old recipe.
 
Turning to my trusty copy of Robert May’s "The Accomplisht Cook" (1685) I was pleased to find in his "A Bill of Fare for Chiftmas Day" that he includes minced meat pies …. but it seems his publisher, Obidiah Blagrave at the Boar and Star in St Pauls Church Yard, didn’t think of insisting he add an index to his book. So consequently it took quite a bit of thumbing back and forward searching for the relevant recipe  … and skipping such tempting delights as "How to stuff a pair of buttocks", or, " To savour a fine young buck" …. until finally I found a suitable spiced meat pie recipe.
 
So this afternoon I did me a proper old-style Christmas Pie - that is a pie of mixed shredded meat (I used a mix of boar, rabbit, duck, turkey and bacon), with apples, chestnuts and walnuts, and thickened with ground almonds, and all spiced with cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and pepper. It was based on a Robert May recipe, but with influence from Gervase Markham’s "The English Huswife" (1615) and Walter Montague’s "The Queen’s Closet Opened" (1655). Strictly it should have been made rectangular - Gervase Markham says that is the traditional shape as it represents Christ’s crib - but mine’s circular as I’m afraid I cheated a bit and used ready-rolled short-crust pastry, which only comes round but which perfectly fits my silicone pie/cake mould. I also have the advantage of a deep freezer so I can keep my pie happily frozen ‘til Christmas Day.
 
So as I say it's Pudding Sunday and if you haven't all done so already you'd better get stirring and cooking your puddings and pies …. And don’t forget the silver thruppennies!
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Sun 08 Dec 2013, 16:23

The history of Xmas caroling

Introduction: The story of Christmas caroling is full of unexpected surprises. The practice itself has gone through many changes over the centuries, and our perception of caroling today is based only on the very recent history. We think of Christmas caroling as a wholesome, and even religious, activity. Caroling seems to speak of the beauty, innocence, and magic of the Christmas season. However, in researching this practice, I have discovered that caroling was not as innocent as we might think. In fact, the act of caroling was actively combatted by the Church for hundreds of years.

http://www.medievalists.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/The-Hidden-History-of-Christmas-Carols.pdf
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 02 Dec 2015, 15:28

The opposite of Santa Claus, the German/ Alpine legend Krampus, a horned figure which appears at Christmas time to punish children who have been bad;

Krampus

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 17 Dec 2015, 14:30

Oh dear, children not getting the proper Christmas message:

wiki:
On January 1, A.D. 400, the bishop Asterius of Amasea in Pontus (Amasya, Turkey) preached a sermon against the Feast of Calends ("this foolish and harmful delight") that describes the role of the Lord of Misrule in Late Antiquity. The New Years feast included children arriving at each doorstep, exchanging their gifts for reward:

"This festival teaches even the little children, artless and simple, to be greedy, and accustoms them to go from house to house and to offer novel gifts, fruits covered with silver tinsel. For these they receive, in return, gifts double their value, and thus the tender minds of the young begin to be impressed with that which is commercial and sordid."
--Asterius, in "Oratio 4: Adversus Kalendarum Festum"
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 17 Dec 2015, 14:34

from the same article; the Lord of Misrule;

"In England, the Lord of Misrule — known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots — was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.

The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. This custom was abolished by Henry VIII in 1541, restored by the Catholic Queen Mary I and again abolished by Protestant Elizabeth I, though here and there it lingered on for some time longer. On the Continent it was suppressed by the Council of Basle in 1431, but was revived in some places from time to time, even as late as the eighteenth century.
While mostly known as a British holiday custom, the appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. This holiday seems to be the precursor to the more modern holiday, and it carried over into the Christian era.
In the Tudor period the Lord of Misrule is mentioned a number of times by contemporary documents referring to both revels at court and among the ordinary people."
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 17 Dec 2015, 20:11

@Triceratops wrote:
from the same article; the Lord of Misrule;

"In England, the Lord of Misrule — known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots — was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.

The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. This custom was abolished by Henry VIII in 1541, restored by the Catholic Queen Mary I and again abolished by Protestant Elizabeth I, though here and there it lingered on for some time longer. On the Continent it was suppressed by the Council of Basle in 1431, but was revived in some places from time to time, even as late as the eighteenth century.
While mostly known as a British holiday custom, the appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. This holiday seems to be the precursor to the more modern holiday, and it carried over into the Christian era.
In the Tudor period the Lord of Misrule is mentioned a number of times by contemporary documents referring to both revels at court and among the ordinary people."


Triceratops, saw once a documentary about rich families in the UK with a large staff of servants. And they had a custom of a day when the servants were masters...and it has to have been relatively recent, while there was a female servant, who was still delighted remembering those days...did a bit research on the web with all kind of word combinations but found nothing...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Fri 18 Dec 2015, 13:12

The Yule Goat:

wiki;
"The Yule goat's origins might go as far back as pre-Christian days. A popular theory is that the celebration of the goat is connected to worship of the Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. The last sheaf of grain bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things "Julbocken" (the Yule goat). A man-sized goat figure is known from 11th-century remembrances of Childermas, where it was led by a man dressed as Saint Nicholas, symbolizing his control over the Devil.
The function of the Yule goat has differed throughout the ages. In a Scandinavian tradition similar to wassailing, held at either Christmas or Epiphany, young men in costumes would walk between houses singing songs, enacting plays and performing pranks. This tradition is known from the 17th century and continued in places into the early 20th century. The group of Christmas characters would often include the Yule goat, a rowdy and sometimes scary creature demanding gifts."

In Sweden, the Goat erected in the town of Gavle has become a target for vandals & arsonists;

Gavle Goat
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 15 Dec 2016, 23:49

In 1541 King Henry VIII of England had a law introduced which banned all sports on Christmas Day except for archery.   No No No No
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Fri 16 Dec 2016, 01:07

Not so!

Rolling Eyes

It's easy to simply quote statements from wiki,

But to engage in discussion is clearly more tricky.

While your many posts here suggest you're on a roll,

Sadly I think, FrederickLouis, you're just a troll.

Basketball



... or as your syntax suggests, simply a computer program.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Fri 16 Dec 2016, 07:39

Now, now, MM. We don't discriminate against artificial intelligence here Smile

FL, you're welcome to join a discussion or not, as you wish. However discussion sites tend to work best when - erm - people discuss things ...
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Fri 16 Dec 2016, 22:31

The celebration of Christmas in Russia changed after the Revolution of 1917. Saint Nicholas was replaced with Grandfather Frost.
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Tue 20 Dec 2016, 03:01

There are many Christmas traditions in Germany.   
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diVh9D_5MaA
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Tue 20 Dec 2016, 04:08

@FrederickLouis wrote:
There are many Christmas traditions in Germany.   
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diVh9D_5MaA

Yes, and what is your point?

There are many traditions everywhere and for many occasions, so what.
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Tue 20 Dec 2016, 22:50

@Nielsen wrote:
@FrederickLouis wrote:
There are many Christmas traditions in Germany.   
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diVh9D_5MaA

Yes, and what is your point?

There are many traditions everywhere and for many occasions, so what.
Germany is important because the decorated Christmas trees came from Germany. Obviously they would not have been decorated when they were brought from the exterior to the interior. As the video expressed, many people liked glass baubles. The glass ornaments were originally hand blown glass.
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 21 Dec 2016, 02:21

@FrederickLouis wrote:
@Nielsen wrote:
@FrederickLouis wrote:
There are many Christmas traditions in Germany.   
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diVh9D_5MaA

Yes, and what is your point?

There are many traditions everywhere and for many occasions, so what.
Germany is important because the decorated Christmas trees came from Germany. Obviously they would not have been decorated when they were brought from the exterior to the interior. As the video expressed, many people liked glass baubles. The glass ornaments were originally hand blown glass.

At FL,
Thank you for at least starting to reply to others, just spouting commonplace known - or unknown - facts, had me considering you a troll, for what that's worth.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Wed 21 Dec 2016, 09:33

Frederick, I have no idea whether you are a clever troll or Catigern (an old Res His ghost) reborn - or perhaps simply someone who finds great comfort and a kind of security in facts.

But more questions/comments from you about the facts you have found for us would be welcome. Facts aren't always what they seem, of course, which is often very upsetting.
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The Ghost of Christmas Past.   Thu 22 Dec 2016, 00:39

@Temperance wrote:
Frederick, I have no idea whether you are a clever troll or Catigern (an old Res His ghost) reborn - or perhaps simply someone who finds great comfort and a kind of security in facts.

But more questions/comments from you about the facts you have found for us would be welcome. Facts aren't always what they seem, of course, which is often very upsetting.

Temperance, It is good that individuals question facts. Facts are not always what they seem. In fact, facts are only as factual as the person provides them.
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