Category Archives: History

Vocabulary ROCKS! Christmas Edition

Vocabulary ROCKS! Christmas Edition

I doubt any of these words associated with the Christmas season are unfamiliar, but often the meanings and origins of even the most common words can be fascinating and surprising. At least to me, an avowed vocabulary nut! Read on for Christmas fun facts and knowledge (Additional fuel to dazzle your holiday guests!) Advent The… Continue Reading

Christmas Carols: What Child is This?

Christmas Carols: What Child is This?

What Child is This? was written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), the manager of an insurance company in Glasgow. In 1865, when only 29 years of age, Dix was struck with a near fatal illness and consequently suffered months confined to his bed.  During this time, he read the Bible comprehensively and underwent a spiritual renewal that… Continue Reading

The Centerpiece: Christmas Plum Pudding

The Centerpiece: Christmas Plum Pudding

In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol All of us, I presume, are familiar with the image… Continue Reading

What IS a Sugar-plum?

What IS a Sugar-plum?

According to Clement Clark Moore, sugar-plums are so special that of all the possible delights a child might dream of, they top the list. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads… So what exactly are these “sugar-plums” dancing in dreamland? At first glance the “sugar”… Continue Reading

Brief Histories of Common Christmas Traditions

Brief Histories of Common Christmas Traditions

Decorating with Evergreen— Placing boughs of evergreens into the house is a practice dating to ancient times and present in numerous cultures for various reasons signifying life, prosperity, good luck, and so on. Church records dating to the 7th century tie evergreen boughs and trees to religious symbolism. Martin Luther is commonly attributed with the… Continue Reading

Christmas Carols: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Christmas Carols: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Author: Charles Wesley (1707-1788), younger brother of John Wesley. Charles was a hymn writer and a poet, also known as one of the people who began the Methodist movement in the Church of England. Hark the Herald Angels Sing was composed specifically as a “hymn for Christmas day” and appeared in 1739 in a book called… Continue Reading

Washington Irving ~ Christmas in the Regency ~ An Excerpt from “A Darcy Christmas”

Washington Irving ~ Christmas in the Regency ~ An Excerpt from “A Darcy Christmas”

Santa Claus, tinsel on trees, Frosty the Snowman, reindeer pulling a sleigh… These are a few of the current Christmas images we are familiar with in the US. What about yule logs, a boar’s head, community wassail bowls, a king of misrule, mince meat pies, and figgy pudding? Rarely are these traditions seen here in… Continue Reading

Here we come a-wassailing!

Here we come a-wassailing!

The general opinion is that wassailing is all about the apples and/or an ancient pagan ritual. Neither is true, but the origins are interesting nevertheless. Earliest traces are to a simple Anglo-Saxon/Old Norse toast — Waes Hael! — which translates to “be hale!” To this wish for good health, a fellow drinker would respond, Drinc Hael! As may… Continue Reading

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly know today as ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore was written in 1822 and published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823. He would not claim to be the author until 1844 and there has been some speculation that Henry Livingston… Continue Reading

Christmas Carols: Silent Night

Christmas Carols: Silent Night

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” ~Luke 2:8 Unlike most Christmas carols, the origins of Silent Night are rooted in well-established facts AND steeped in dramatized legend. The Facts: Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), a young priest in the parish church at Oberndorf (a village on the… Continue Reading

Christmas Menu for 1660

Christmas Menu for 1660

The earliest published Christmas menu dates from 1660, the year of Charles II’s restoration to the throne. The Accomplisht Cook was written by Robert May, an English chef who trained in France and cooked for nobility throughout his life. This remarkable document includes a section titled “A bill of fare for Christmas Day and how to set… Continue Reading

Christmas Carols: O Holy Night

Christmas Carols: O Holy Night

According to history, in Roquemaure, a small town in southern France, at the end of the year 1843, the parish church organ had been renovated. To celebrate the event, the priest asked town wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau to write a Christmas poem, even though the latter never showed an interest in religion. Cappeau obliged, titling… Continue Reading

Handel, composer of “Messiah”

Handel, composer of “Messiah”

In 1741 George Frideric Handel wrote Messiah, his greatest musical creation, at the age of 56 in a single wild writing jag lasting 24 days. According to Newman Flower’s George Frideric Handel: His Personality and His Times: “He (Handel) completed the first part in seven days, the second part in nine days, the third part… Continue Reading