ALTHOUGH IT’S A RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY STEMMING FROM CHRISTIANITY, A GREAT DEAL OF BRITAIN GETS INTO GEAR FOR THE SEASONAL CHEER. UNLESS YOU DON’T WANT TO. IN WHICH CASE, DON’T READ ON, SCROOGE. AMIDST THE FRENZY OF THE PRESENT RUN, THE NOVELTY OF NOEL AND ITS EFFECT ON RETAIL CAN BE LOST. WE RECALL SOME TIMELY TRADITIONS THIS DECEMBER.
Send cards to your closest
Oh dear. With the surge of technology in the past decade, our machinery has become superior to everything else. We’re a swamp of high-tech zombies, hell, we even rely upon Facebook to check on birthday dates (deny it all you like, we’ve all done this at some point). With a tap of a button, one can type a text and there’s a greeting message mailed. Twenty years ago everyone put pen to paper. Where’s the love gone?
Greetings card originated in 19th century England, where schoolboys used to write seasonal letters to their parents who lived far away. The cards were adorned with the Nativity, scrolls and Biblical scenes. In 1843, a narrative painter called John Calcott Horsely, lithographed 1,000 cards and sent them to Jobbins of Warwick Court in Holborn to be printed. They were then sold for a shilling before the tradition really took off. Send some hand-written spirit this year…plus, you won’t accidentally group text your ex.
Who ate all the pies?
How could we not? Although we seem to have become either as nation of jumping gym bunnies, or a tribe of take-out eaters, we can’t forget the humble pie (not actual humble pie, which was also cooked in December. This was made out of the entails of a deer, to which the nobles ate the rich parts, whereas the servants ate the numbles, hence the saying. Anyway, I digress). Traceable as far back as the 13th century, the mince pie was made from meat, fruit and spices brought back from European crusaders returning from the Middle East. An essay, published in December 1733’s issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, explains the popularity of a certain “Christmas Pye”. The Victorian era modernised the recipe by adding a sweet taste, to which we know what it is today. Forget about watching the waistline, just tuck in. There are some luxury recipes available online which would make a great stocking fillers for friends.
Christingles for charities
Brought over by Missionaries in the 1700s, Christingles are a celebrated sign of Jesus. A bishop looked for a way to symobolise Christ and the way that happiness was spread. Today we recognise the icon as an orange with a candle, representing the world and the light. Four sticks with dried fruits and sweets evoke the directions, whilst the ribbon is said to be Jesus’ care for the world. Christingle is now an event, created in the 60s and introduced to the Church of England. People come together in churches and schools across Britain to celebrate Christianity whilst aiding children’s charities. It has become one of the most popular Christmas services today.
What to do on Boxing Day?
No before you ask, Boxing Day is nothing to do with boxing (well, that’s what I thought anyway). Nevertheless, Boxing Day in Britain prides itself on sport. Premier League football is held, as well as rugby leagues and unions playing. The second most prestigious horserace, the King George VI Chase is also held in Surrey. This day was also known in the hunting calendar for foxhunts across villages and towns.
Another derivation of the term is when Romans used to boxes to go round and collect money for athletic games. Monks and clergies then adapted this to gather money for the poor.
With America’s Black Friday behind us, I can hear the shudder of retail stores. A common misconception is that our Boxing Day version has been fabricated for our own materialistic desire. This is, however, not the case. The ideals stemmed from when servants and tradesman would receive presents from their employers, coming from many different British colonies. The gift would be presented in a box, hence the name. Samuel Pepys wrote of the idea in his entry in December 1663. The prospect dwindled down and eventually became a ‘present’ from tradesmen to customers with reduced deals on products.
Where did Saint Nick’s suit start?
As a child, I yearned for the drill of ‘holidays are coming’ on the TV before I could truly start jumping around like a jack-in-a-box. We remember Santa’s suit being bright red, with Saint Nicholas beaming with his bushy beard on the trucks. The craze of Coca-cola took wind in the UK, and designs of Father Christmas drew by Haddon Sundblom claimed responsibility for the creation in the 1930s. Still to this day, it’s a common misconception that the company designed the Santa we know, glowing with ‘Ho ho ho’. No no no. The first idea of his white and red suit derived from Thomas Nast, who fabricated the globalised icon in 1860, on the pages of Harper’s Weekly. What’s remarkable is that this is perhaps one of the most iconic figures of Christmas, yet it wasn’t finalised until the 1930s, whereas some of the other traditions have been established, well, for two thousand years.