For the next twelve days I am going to share some of my memories of Christmas, some favourite food and drinks, plus some music you might enjoy. I have taken snippets from 2016 and 2018 to share with you.
To get the party started here are some choristers with particular appeal..
I tried to remember the first Christmas that I was aware of as a child. I must have got the general idea of the concept of presents quite young as at age seven when we moved to Malta I began the practice of putting a pillowcase on the end of my bed from around mid-October…. I think this ticked my mother off somewhat because she sat me down at the beginning of December and told me that Father Christmas did not exist and that from now on I would have my presents around the tree like my two sisters who were in their late teens….. My brother would only have been three years old at the time and so was not really interested one way or another.
It must have made quite an impression on me as I then related this story to my husband before our first Christmas when we were talking about how we would spend our first together. Since we had only known each other for six weeks when we married in mid-November it was not surprising that there were a few things that we had not had time to discuss, especially something as trivial as Father Christmas! However, imagine my delight when I woke early on Christmas morning to find a heavy weight across my legs (oy… Nothing like that this is a family show) I switched the light on to find a pillowcase packed to the rafters with carefully wrapped presents… Nothing too grand as we were pretty broke but I remember bursting into tears at the time at this act of love and kindness…
Every year since then for the last 40 Christmas mornings we have woken early and sneaked a stocking full of nonsense on to each other’s side of the bed and when we had Sam still, he had one too. There is a frenzy of unwrapping or ripping in the case of Sam, and much laughter and illicit consumption of chocolate oranges and cashew nuts. Sam would empty his sack out on the floor to get to the bottom where he could smell his favourite treat was hidden – a very fragrant pig’s ear… I always put a tatty duvet cover on for this occasion and it was necessary.
As to my favourite Christmas present of all time……that would probably be the year that my parents came up to London to stay with us and have Christmas dinner. My father loved big band music and at the time was still listening to a 1960s record player. We gave him a fairly flat package, and he unwrapped it to find four CDs of Glen Miller Big Band Music.. He tried so hard to look excited, but then looked at me and said ‘I don’t have anything to play these on’. David then handed over another large package to my mystified father, who tore of the wrapping to find a box containing a combined radio and CD player with detachable speakers. The look on his face is still very clear in my mind today. Priceless.
Just in case my father is listening in from somewhere over the rainbow.. here is Glenn Miller with In The Christmas Mood…..
The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Actually the 12 days do not begin today but from Christmas Day until the evening of the 5th January. These days are associated with religious calendars and rather than the fun approach in the song we sing, many are in tribute to someone who met a tragic end. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the Middle Ages and were a time of celebration of various events around the birth of Jesus or to celebrate the life of a saint or martyr. Each day had its own significance.
Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day celebrating the birth of Jesus and the setting of the nativity.
We assume that carols are of religious origin but in fact they are pagan songs that were sung to celebrate the four seasons. For thousands of years at the Winter Solstice for example people would dance around large stone circles and the word carol actually means to dance in praise and joy. Over time the practice of singing carols became synonymous with Christmas and was adopted by Christianity as a way of celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Over the years it has become a tradition for musicians to bring out their own compositions in honour of the season and over the coming days I will be sharing the carols and music that are sung all over the world by those who celebrate this particular festival.
And to start us off, where is a wonderful choir called Proclaim with Mary Did You Know……
Traditionally mince pies were a bit of luxury and also a status symbol for those living in 17th century and very wealthy folk would show off at their Christmas gatherings by having their pies in all kinds of shapes and sizes and were more a reflection of their ability to employ a high end pastry cook more than anything. In the early days they would have contained minced meat of lamb, beef, chicken etc rather than those we eat today made with dried fruit and spices.
Traditionally it is said that if you have one a day from Christmas Day through to Twelfth night you will enjoy much happiness for the next 12 months… If ever there was an excuse to eat something sweet and fattening then this is the best yet….
Here are two amazing recipes from Carol Taylor our resident food expert.. one for mince pies and the other for delicious sausage rolls, another great addition to the Christmas menu: Mince Pies and Puddings
And something for you to drink before you head off into the cold. – The Eggnog
There is some debate about the origins of Eggnog but it probably goes back to what was called Posset in medieval Europe -it was a sweetened dairy based drink made with milk, cream, sugar and eggs which would have been beaten together to form a frothy drink with some cinnamon or nutmeg sprinkled on top. Over time of course some bright sparks began to add some alcohol to the mix depending on where they lived at the time… Today in various parts of the world you will find a version of Eggnog served with rum, brandy or whisky. It is very warming and sweet and if also combined with rum I understand it has an impact on short term memory…..
What is quite delicious is to make the concoction into an ice cream and that goes beautifully with mince pies or Christmas pudding.
Here is a link to some wonderful homemade eggnog: Tastes Better From Scratch
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again tomorrow for the Second Day of Christmas. Sally.