In the medieval period Christmas was actually a solemn occasion in abbeys, and was celebrated appropriately. The austerity of Advent preceded the marvel of Christ’s birth, and while there was a little gift-giving and entertainment, it bore no comparison whatsoever to the flapping around and overindulgence of today. Read more about the monks’ Christmas at… Continue reading A medieval Christmas at Rievaulx Abbey….
According to this site, which is all about the play entitled the Coventry Carol, and details its history: “In Coventry — where Richard III attended plays shortly before he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field — the plays lasted for longer than in other cities.” Well, whatever he watched, it wasn’t the Coventry… Continue reading When in 1485 did Richard III watch the Coventry Mystery Plays….?
While the traditional Yule Log is associated with Great Britain – as its television broadcast/DVD version is associated with America – it seems to have originated in the misty past of Central Germany and Westphalia. It is certainly of pagan origin as are many of our Christian customs. To quote Sir James George Frazer in… Continue reading From Yule Log to Buche de Noel
“….the beautiful, unspoiled Mediterranean town of Patara is the birthplace of the bearded gift-giver, who we look out for with such excitement on Christmas Eve. Or rather, the birthplace of the third century Christian saint whose life of kindness and miraculous do-goodery created a legend which has evolved down the centuries, and given us the… Continue reading From St Nicholas to Sir Christmas to Old Father Christmas to Santa Claus….
Well, I can’t believe poinsettias, pretty as they are, ever featured in medieval European Christmas festivities! Any more than turkeys, roast potatoes, cranberries, chocolate and other such delights that are due entirely to the New World. The above picture is from this article about the pagan origins of Christmas, and for all its New World… Continue reading Medieval poinsettias? I think not….
It seems the Bible didn’t actually specify a birth date for Christ. The Church decided on various dates, and today we observe the event on 25th December, but many of us regard the season itself (as distinct from the birth date) as commencing on 6th December, the Feast of St Nicholas, who has now evolved… Continue reading St Nicholas and the commencement of the Christmas season….
How did this happen? Am I dreaming? Is there some sort of Time-slip? Yet here I am, somehow “transposed” from my 21st century self to a Lady-in-Waiting, helping to host a secret dinner. I cannot understand how or why it has occurred, all I know is that it is the end of February 1485, after… Continue reading Who’s coming to dinner (a guest post)
In 1840 workmen carrying out repairs to St Bartholomew’s Church, Ashperton, Herefordshire were collecting stones from the ruins of a nearby manor house when they discovered a heavy stone plaque, carved with an elaborate coat of arms, among the rubble. The stone was taken to the church for safekeeping and has hung on the wall… Continue reading The Traitor’s Arms?
“ . . . . Christmas with the King [ Henry III ] doesn’t immediately sound like the social engagement you would expect for a Benedictine monk, but wind the clock back to the early 13th century and for one particularly colourful religious figure, a royal invitation was nothing out of the norm . .… Continue reading A royal Christmas invitation for Matthew Paris of St Albans….
Here’s an interesting link to an article about how the medieval Tsars spent Christmas in Moscow. I know we grizzle about the British weather, but I’d rather be here any time than be turned to ice in Russia!