D is for Decorations – the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

A bit late with yesterday’s entry I’m afraid. Will try to get another one done later today. Just busy with Christmas and a mad social whirl – well, about as mad as it gets for me anyway. It is official, I have barn envy. Attended the Christmas social for a local Historical Society. It was held in the most amazing converted barn, complete with the biggest woodburner in the world. Said woodburner did consume half a tree during the evening but hey. My entire house would have fitted in the barn twice over. We provided some of the ‘entertainment’ by presenting this alphabet. I failed to print it quite large enough to read easily but the only mishap was when my partner in crime misread ‘idolatrous’ as ‘adulterous’. Not to worry, the audience seemed to think it was deliberate.

Christmas pudding making yesterday, followed by tree decorating and then the ‘Light up a Life’ service in aid of the local hospice.


Houses have been decorated to celebrate the winter solstice since pagan times. Initially this was done using evergreens such as holly and ivy. The style of decorations changed in Victorian times and became focused round the Christmas tree for which glass decorations were produced. Now it is traditional to take down decorations before twelfth night but when evergreens were used, they were left until Candlemas day, 2nd February.

First Footing

First Footing is a New Year’s custom, first associated with Scottish Hogmanay celebrations. The first person to enter the house after midnight on New Year’s Eve brought luck for the following year. Ideally the visitor should be a dark haired man carrying a piece of coal or other gift. Blond haired visitors would be reminiscent of Viking invaders so not welcome.

Good King Wenceslas

Wenceslas 907-935 was Duke of Bohemia from the age of fourteen. He was murdered by his mother Drahomira and brother Boleslav the cruel. The carol that bears his name dates from 1853.


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