Making Christmas Cake and more Cs from the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

Christmas Cake making time, a little later than usual this year. They seemed to turn out well. Then off to source a Christmas tree. The year I don’t have a tree I will have turned up my toes. Not for me the colour coordinated decor though. I have to have the largest tree my cottage will accommodate. Well actually, to be honest, I often opt for one that doesn’t fit in my cottage. Then I have to persuade someone of my acquaintance to wield a saw. I have to say that I am perfectly capable of wielding my own saw but not in zero temperatures. One year I famously took a tree back because it was too small, then there was the year that I took a seven foot tree on a bus crowded with Christmas shoppers – and that was in the days before trees got squished into handy nets. Anyway back to the reason for the large as possible tree. I have a large collection of tree decorations and they all have to be displayed. A large number of these are older than I am (that’s seriously ancient – what it is to be vintage!) and all have family significance; the collection having been added to each year. Some were made by my mother and daughters and all are precious. Last year, as I removed them from the tree, I made a note of any of particular interest so my descendants will know what they are disposing of! I even took the precaution of putting all the really special ones in one box. I haven’t worked out how these will be identified if I drop dead whilst they are on a tree!

Today then, the annual ‘spring’ clean of the living room that occurs pre decorations. This means all the historic brasses have been cleaned. In the days when I was a Tawny Owl, this task was delegated to the hapless Brownies – I am sure it was good for some badge or other. Now I am lacking slave labour I have to do my own. Tomorrow the tree comes in and the pudding gets made (yes late again).


Carol is a word of Anglo-Norman origin and actually means a circle dance, not necessarily accompanied by singing. Music was viewed as pagan and carols were banned from church services. Traditionally St Francis of Assisi is thought to have added singing to a Christmas service in a cave in Greccio, Umbria in 1223. In Medieval Times, carols or curls, were Christmas songs that were often regional in nature, sung by local groups of waits, sometimes as part of a mystery play. Most of the well known carols date from the C16th. Carols fell out of use in the C17th to be revived in the C19th.

Christmas Carol

The well known story by Charles Dickens was first published in 1843, making Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and the three ghosts famous.


Christingle means ‘Christ Light’ and they were originally part of the traditions of the Moravian Church. Each part of the Christingle was given a religious significance and Bishop Johannes de Watteville first used it as a way of explaining the meaning of Christmas in 1747. In 1968, the Christingle Service in the UK became a way of raising money for the Children’s Society


Crackers were invented by confectioner Tom Smith in 1847 as a way of marketing his bonbons.

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