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We have nearly come to the end of another year and what a year it’s been for a lot of us some of us have had sickness and family troubles and We think we will all be pleased when a New Year steps in I am sure I will. This year the newsletter will not be to large but We have tried to enclose as many things from the past years for you looking back at Christmas. We Have all that’s Christine and Myself submitted our own article’s this year to the magazine to try and make it a bit more interesting for you .
Welcome to this year’s Christmas Magazine for 2012.As we have a few new Members in the group this is how it started. FTFY was born in 2007, started by Vera Brierley, and then she asked her friend, a fellow genealogist, Christine Conroy to be her assistant and it has snowballed from then! We have regular newsletters throughout the year but this year, we are having a Christmas Magazine, full of stories and traditions for this time of the year, all relating to genealogy and family. We have members scattered all over the world, as far as Canada & the U.S.A. and Australia. Christmas traditions and rituals, of course vary from country to country but this one caught my eye.
How Native Indians Forecast a Cold Winter One day in early September the chief of a Native American tribe was asked by his tribal elders if the winter of 2011/12 was going to be cold or mild. The chief asked his medicine man, but he too had lost touch with the reading signs from the natural world around the Great Lakes. In truth, neither of them had idea about how to predict the coming
winter. However, the chief decided to take a modern approach, and the chief rang the National Weather Service in Gaylord Michigan.
“Yes, it is going to be a cold winter,' the meteorological officer told the chief. Consequently, he went back to his tribe and told the men to collect plenty of firewood”.
A fortnight later the chief called the Weather Service and asked for an update. 'Are you still forecasting a cold winter?' he asked. „Yes, very cold', the weather officer told him. As a result of this brief conversation the chief went back to the tribe and told his people to collect every bit of wood they could find. A month later the chief called the National Weather Service once more and asked about the coming winter. 'Yes,' he was told, 'it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever.' 'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked. The weatherman replied: “Because the Native Americans of the Great Lakes are collecting wood like crazy!‟‟
The Xmas Yule Log
The Yule log today, takes the form of either a small wood and holly centerpiece on the Christmas dinner table, or a delicious cream-filled chocolate roll, shaped like a tree log and covered with chocolate icing scored to resemble bark. But when did this tradition start? The origins of the burning of the yule log The origin of the Christmas yule log dates back to Yuletide, a pagan winter festival of fire where the burning of a log on the eve of Winter Solstice ushered in the power of the sun. Winter Solstice falls on or around December 20, and is the shortest day and longest
night of the year. Our pagan ancestors who lived in the frozen north of Europe and Scandinavia, went out into the forests to find the biggest log to bring back and set alight. It was left to burn for the entire 12 days of Yule, the Viking winter feast. This custom was to keep the winter darkness away and to welcome back the spirits of the families' dearly departed, every Christmas Eve. The Yule log tradition in Britain The Vikings carried the Yule log tradition to Britain but before this time, the Celtics placed great significance on the oak tree, which was sacred to the ancient Druids. As part of the Druids' winter solstice fire, this slow-burning tree was used for the perpetual fire from which people could relight their winter fires. The tradition of burning the Yule log through the 12 nights of Christmas until “Twelfth Night” can still be seen in some old British inns. Pieces of the Yule log were highly prized and often kept as protection for the house from fire and lightning through the coming year, and the ashes were often scattered over the fields as a fertilizer. The following Christmas, the yule log would be lit from remnants of the old one, thus connecting the logs for many years. The customs of "wassailing" the trees The druids worshiped, sang and chanted to the Great Trees, symbols of the Gods, and poured wine on them as an offering. This custom of “wassailing" the trees lead to the tradition of "wassailing" the Yule log . Decorated with mistletoe, holly, ivy, red berries and bright ribbons, drink was poured over it and people sang around it. The shift from the hearth to the table With the introduction of cast-iron stoves and fewer fireplaces, the 19th century French replaced the yule log by a log-shaped cake, the "buche de Noel" (Christmas Log), to be served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve at a supper called Le Reveillon. The Yule Log, though pagan in origin, is thousands of years old but still adorns the Christmas dinner table in many households.
Here are some ideas on how to decorate your Christmas Cup Cakes. They make lovely Christmas presents, made up into boxes of 6.
RECIPE FOR CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES
250g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened 250g (8oz) caster sugar 250g (8oz) self-raising flour Pinch of salt 4 medium eggs 4 tablespoons milk Ice-cream scoop (optional) 2 x 12-hole muffin tins, lined with paper cases
Set the oven to 190°C or Gas Mark 5. Tip the butter into a bowl and beat it until softened. Add the sugar, flour, salt, eggs and milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Use a traditional-style ice-cream scoop, or spoon, to divide the mixture between all the paper cases. Place both muffin tins in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then swap over the position of the tins over and bake for a further 3-7 minutes, until both trays of cupcakes are a light golden colour. Remove the tins from the oven. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Italian Meringue Buttercream
300g (10oz) caster sugar 5 large egg whites 500g (1lb) unsalted butter, softened Pinch of salt Few drops of vanilla extract Paste food colourings in pink, violet, yellow and orange Sugar/jam/candy thermometer
Pour 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water into a saucepan and add 250g (8oz) caster sugar. Place the pan on the hob and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to the boil. Use a damp pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Boil the mixture rapidly, without stirring it, until it reaches 121°C. Have a large bowl of cold water ready for step 3. When the syrup reaches over 100°C, whisk the egg whites until stiff, preferably using a table-top mixer. Gradually whisk in the remaining caster sugar. As soon as the syrup reaches 121°C, remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into the bowl of cold water, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter. Only leave the pan in the water for a few seconds - if it's left too long, it will be too thick to pour. With the food mixer on full speed, gradually pour in the syrup in a thin stream, taking care to pour it between the edge of the bowl and the whisk - if it's too close to the edge of the bowl, it will set there and won't get mixed in properly; if it's poured over the moving whisk, then it will splatter out of the bowl and make a mess. Continue whisking the mixture for about 8-10 mins until the bowl feels just lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the
heat to thin is slightly. Gradually whisk in the butter. Then add the salt and vanilla extract. The meringue will collapse a little, and the mixture may look like it's curdled, but keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream. Use paste colour to colour the buttercream to the desired colour.
From Christine CHRISTMAS QUIZ
1. Which of these companies was the first to use Santa Clause in an advertisement? (a) Pepsi (b) Coca-Cola (c ) 7-Up (d) Fanta
2. Which president was the first to decorate the White House Christmas tree? (a) Franklin Pierce (b) Benjamin Franklin (c ) George Washington (d) Abraham Lincoln 3. Which country did the gingerbread house come from? (a)Austria (b) Switzerland (c ) Germany (d)United States 4. What kind of Christmas does Elvis Presley sing about? (a)White (b) Red (c ) Blue (d) Snowy 5. In what year was "A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens, published? (a) 1765 (b) 1843 (c) 1860 (d) 1906 6. What is the name of the Grinch's dog in the movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"?
(a) Pete (b) Sam (c ) Ruth (d) Max 7. Where was "A Christmas Carol" written? (a) Australia (b) United States (c ) Germany (d) United Kingdom 8. Which reindeer helps Rudolph fly at the reindeer games? (a) Donner (b) Clarice (c ) Dancer (d) Blitzen 9. Which reindeer is Rudolph's dad? (d) Blitzen 10. Which Christmas movie has been played more than any other? (a) A Christmas Story (b) Frosty The Snowman (c ) Home Alone (d) It’s A Wonderful Life ANSWERS AT THE END OF NEWSLETTER a) Dancer (b)Dixon (c ) Donner
From Christine Genealogist's Christmas Eve
'Twas the night before Christmas When all through the house Not a creature was stirring, Not even my spouse. The dining room table with clutter was spread With pedigree charts and with letters which said... "Too bad about the data for which you wrote; Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat." Stacks of old copies of wills and such Were proof that my work had become too much. Our children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. And I at my table was ready to drop From work on my album with photos to crop. Christmas was here, and such was my lot That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot. Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills, I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills, While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers, I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.
While I was thus musing about my sad plight, A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright. Away to the window I flew in a flash, Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash. When what with my wondering eyes should appear, But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer. Up to the house top the reindeer they flew, With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too. And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs. As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash, Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH! "Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck, And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!) Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work and filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk). Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy: When I'd been too busy for even one toy. He spied my research on the table all spread "A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!) "Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned, As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned. I gazed with amusement--the cover it read Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead. "I know what it's like as a genealogy bug." He said as he gave me a great Santa hug. "While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry, I do some research in the North Pole Library! A special treat I am thus able to bring, To genealogy folk who can't find a thing." "Now off you go to your bed for a rest, I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess." As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee, I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me. While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle, To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle. And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight, "Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"
-From Christine un known author
History and Tradition of Christmas pudding
Does your Christmas dinner include a Christmas pudding? If you lived in England, the absence of this delectable dessert from the holiday table would raise a few eyebrows. The pudding is the most special part of the meal, although families alter the way it‟s cooked and presented to create their own unique traditions. Originally the Christmas pudding was referred to as hakin because of its multitude of ingredients. The first recipes of this pudding came from the middle Ages. The ingredients for mince pie, as it was then called, were chopped poultry, pheasant, partridge, and rabbit. Later sugar, apples, raisins, and candied oranges and lemons were added. Another form of Christmas pudding called porridge or frumenty surfaced in the 14th century. Ingredients included beef, mutton, raisins, currents, prunes, wine, and mixed spices. It was a soup-like fasting dish eaten before the Christmas celebrations commenced. In 1595, spirits, dried fruit, eggs, and breadcrumbs were added to the recipe and it became plum pudding. In 1664, it was banned by the Puritans as a lewd custom unfit for people who followed the ways of God. In 1714, King George I re-established pudding as part of the Christmas feast even though the Quakers strongly objected. Meat was eliminated from the recipe in the 17th century in favour of more sweets, and people began sprinkling it with brandy and setting it aflame when serving it to their guests. The Christmas pudding was not a tradition in England until it was introduced to the Victorians by Prince Albert. By this time the pudding looked and tasted as it does today. The traditional cooking time takes about eight hours, with preparation taking even longer due to extensive marinating. The longer the fruit is marinated in brandy, cider, or both, the better it tastes and this could take weeks! There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the Christmas pudding. Some traditions say to make the pudding by the 25th Sunday after Trinity, with 13 ingredients
to represent Christ and His Disciples. Every member of the family is to take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honour of the three kings. It is said that setting the brandy aflame represents Christ‟s passion. A sprig of holly as garnish is a reminder if His „Crown of Thorns.‟ Holly supposedly brought good luck and had special healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants. Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year. A tradition that died out due to its depressing nature was the addition of thimbles or buttons to the pudding. This signalled that the finder would remain a spinster or bachelor forever. One last interesting fact about Christmas pudding is that the largest batch ever made weighed in at 7,231 pounds and was made in Aughton, Lancashire on July 11, 1992. Imagine trying to finish that plate! ---------------From Vera
Mrs Mackie's Christmas Pudding Recipe
A traditional recipe for a rich dark moist pudding. Ideal to be served with a brandy or whisky sauce.
To make 2 x 2 pound or 4 x 1 pound puddings 3 ounces of flour 5 ounces of bread crumbs 5 ounces of suet 1¼ pounds of mixed dried fruit 1 small orange 1 small lemon 1 small cooking apple 2 eggs 1 tablespoonful of treacle ½ teaspoonful of mixed spice
½ teaspoonful of cinnamon ½ teaspoonful of nutmeg 1 small carrot 6 ounces of sugar (brown or white) 4 ounces of candid peel
THE EARLIEST ORNAMENTS - The 1800's The earliest in the early 1800‘s, as we‘ve mentioned in passing, were fruit (particularly apples) and nuts. These, along with the evergreen trees themselves, represented the certainty that life would return in the spring. Other fruits began to be added, along with paper streamers and bits of shiny metal foil. Whether a tree was lighted or not, the idea of reflecting the light in the room where the tree stood grew in popularity. Another concept, too, began to take hold with the German families in whose homes the first ―popular‖ trees resided. Food, often gingerbread or other hard cookies, would be baked in the shape of fruits, stars, hearts, angels and – yes – bells. As the idea of decorated Christmas trees spread, various countries added their own variations. Americans, for instance, would string long strands of cranberries or popcorn to circle their trees. Small gifts began to be used to decorate the tree, sometimes contained in little intricately woven baskets, sometimes nestled in the crook of a bough, sometimes just hanging by a thread or piece of yarn. In the UK, creative ornaments of lace, paper or other materials showed the variety of interests and talents of their makers. Small ―scraps‖ cut out of newspaper or magazine illustrations also found their way to the family‘s tree and after a few years it became harder and harder to actually see the tree beneath the ornaments.
During the nearly seventy years of her reign, Queen Victoria presided over a resurgence of the Christmas celebration. The illustration of her family around their Christmas tree that appeared in Godey's Lady's Book in December, 1860, inspired Americans as well as their British cousins to follow her example with a decorated tree of their own. Many customs of Christmastime past had faded during the early part of the Nineteenth century, but her adoption of the season (if not the actual day of present-giving – she continued to follow an older tradition of giving gifts on January One) encouraged the rediscovery of Christmas carols, charitable giving at the season, and, of course, hearty meals of roast beef, goose or turkey followed by plum pudding. Many of the ornaments decorating the trees of Victorian households were of the handmade craft variety and instructions for their construction were included in popular magazines. One example includes an early light bulb, encased in a tatted net, with an observer‘s woven basket suspended from the bottom: a perfect hot-air balloon. The ornaments that were commercially available tended to be a bit on the gaudy, well, colourful, and side. They might include brightly illustrated figures of cute angels, cute children, cute animals, and cute elves – well, you can see the trend here. They would also include fanciful creations of airships and other imaginative craft captained by Father Christmas or even Santa Claus – depending on which side of the Atlantic you resided. There was an abundance of lace, delicate curly wire decoration, beadwork, tinsel and other materials… often on the same ornament.
The first Christmas Tree
The first known Christmas Tree was erected at Queen's Lodge, Windsor, by Queen Charlotte, the German born wife of George III, for a party she held on Christmas Day, 1800, for the children of the leading families in Windsor. Her biographer Dr John Watkins describes the scene: In the middle of the room stood an immense tub with a yew tree placed in it, from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits and toys, most tastefully arranged, and the whole illuminated by small wax candles. After the company had walked around and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets which it bore together with a toy and then all returned home, quite delighted. Christmas trees were an established Royal institution in Britain long before the custom spread to the general populace. Queen Adelaide always had one and the young Princess Victoria recorded her delight at the Christmas tree at Kensington Palace in 1832. Prince Albert, who is often wrongly credited with having brought the Christmas tree to Britain, certainly did most to encourage its general adoption, The Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle was featured in The Illustrated London News of 1848 and this inspired the imitation. Albert also presented large numbers of trees to schools and Army barracks at Christmas. In the USA despite strong German influence there is no record of the Christmas tree before 1855 while the French only adopted the idea after 1870.
The first Christmas tree lit with electric bulbs was installed in New York City by Edward H Johnston an associate of Thomas Edison in December 1882. The latter's company manufactured the first commercially produced Christmas tree lamps and advertised them in the December 1901 issue of Ladies Home Journal. The first communal Christmas tree was instituted by the town of Pasadena, California, where an illuminated tree
Windsor's Tree, Castle Hill
Here in Windsor, every December, a 25 ft. high decorated Christmas Tree from the Crown Estates; Windsor Great Park is erected immediately behind the Queen Victoria statue which stands at the entrance to Windsor Castle. The custom dates from 1947, the first year that Oslo's gift tree was erected in Trafalgar Square, London, as a thank you for Britain's assistance to Norway in the second World War. On an evening a few days before Christmas a Carol Service is held around the tree. The Choir of St. George's Chapel and local churches with a Regimental Band from the Guards combine to make this a memorable annual event. Has been set up annually since 1909.
Christmas Story, (in the 1800s)
In the very early 1800′s, a young boy about 14 years old named John lived in an orphanage in Old England along with several other children. Orphanages were dreaded. Orphan meant unwanted and unloved. The orphanage was administered by a master and his wife who were results of meager backgrounds themselves and were short on love but high on discipline. No childlike play, no expression of compassion, no understanding. Every day of the year was spent working. They worked in gardens, cleaned, sewed, and cooked sometimes for wealthy children. They were up at dawn and worked until dark and usually received only one meal a day. However, they were very grateful because they were taught to be hard workers. John had absolutely nothing to call his own. None of the children did. Christmas was the one day of the year when the children did not work and received a gift. A gift for each child - something to call their own. This special gift was an orange. John had been in the orphanage long enough to look forward with delight and anticipation of this special day of Christmas and to the orange he would receive. In Old England, and to John and his orphan companions, an orange was a rare and special gift. It had an unusual aroma of something they smelled only at Christmas. The children prized it so much that they kept it for several days, weeks, and even months – protecting it, smelling it, touching it and loving it. Usually they tried to savor and preserve it for so long that it often rotted before they ever peeled it to enjoy the sweet juice. Many thought were expressed this year as Christmas time approached. The children would say, “I will keep mine the longest.” They always talked about how big their
last orange was and how long they had kept it. John usually slept with his next to his pillow. He would put it right by his nose and smell of its goodness, holding it tenderly and carefully as not to bruise it. He would dream of children all over the world smelling the sweet aroma of oranges. It gave him security and a sense of well-being, hope and dreams of a future filled with good food and a life different from this meager existence. This year John was overjoyed by the Christmas season. He was becoming a man. He knew he was becoming stronger and soon he would be old enough to leave. He was excited by this anticipation and excited about Christmas. He would save his orange until his birthday in July. If he preserved it very carefully, kept it cool and did not drop it, he might be able to eat it on his birthday. Christmas day finally came. The children were so excited as they entered the big dining hall. John could smell the unusual aroma of meat. In his excitement and because of his oversized feet, he tripped, causing a disturbance. Immediately the master roared, “John, leave the hall and there will be no orange for you this year.” John’s heart broke violently wide open. He began to cry. He turned and went swiftly back to the cold room and his corner so the small children would not see his anguish. Then he heard the door open and each of the children entered. Little Elizabeth with her hair falling over her shoulders, a smile on her face, and tears in her eyes held out a piece of rag to John. “Here John,” she said, “this is for you.” John was touched by her youth and innocence as he reached for the bulge in her hand. As he lifted back the edges of the rag he saw a big juicy orange all peeled and quartered . . . and then he realized what they had done. Each had sacrificed their own orange by sharing a quarter and had created a big, beautiful orange for John. John never forgot the sharing, love and personal sacrifice his friends had shown him that Christmas day. John’s beginning was a meager existence; however, his
growth to manhood was rewarded by wealth and success. In memory of that day every year he would send oranges all over the world to children everywhere. His desire was that no child would ever spend Christmas without a special Christmas fruit
The time draws near the birth of Christ: The moon is hid, the night is still; The Christmas bells from hill to hill Answer each other in the mist. Four voices of four hamlets round, From far and near, on mead and moor, Swell out and fail, as if a door Were shut between me and the sound; Each voice four changes on the wind, That now dilate, and now decrease; Peace and good will, good will and peace; The time draws near the birth of Christ: The moon is hid, the night is still; The Christmas bells from hill to hill Answer each other in the mist. Four voices of four hamlets round, From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door Were shut between me and the sound; Each voice four changes on the wind, That now dilate, and now decrease; Peace and good will, good will and peace; Peace and good will, to all mankind
In both England and America, Victorian writers did their share in fostering holiday spirit, but the one writer who obviously contributed the moss
t was Charles Dickens. With the publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843, he defined the Victorian Christmas as a a family-oriented occasion. His touching description of the Cratchits celebrating the holiday together at home is the heart of the classic story. The portrait still influences us today with its view of Christmas as a time for giving and sharing, and for home and family. At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire
made up. Then all the Crachit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Crachit called a circle, meaning half a one, and at Bob's elbow stood the family display of glass-two tumblers and a a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks; while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed: "A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!" Which all the family re-echoed. "God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
While Sat here writing this small magazine for you the memories of my childhood Christmas came back to me I would be about 4 maybe 5 and my sister would be 12 as there was 7 years in us I would ask my sister to write to Santa for me and throw it up the chimney so one night we sat in front of the fire the coals was burning and the gas mantles lit with our cocoa in a mug that we had every night for bed. I would start and ask for a doll and a pram and a bike she would say well Vera don‘t you think that is a lot well I would like them she did say that Santa hadn‘t a lot of money to go round all children and you really had to be pleased with a few nice things , Well I will have a book and pencils and a cooking set I would say I saw her write some things down and then she would kiss it and say this is for you Santa and up the chimney it went . I used to love that and would ask do you think he has got it Oh yes she would say he has got it alright.
On Christmas eve it was great fun Nan who lived round the corner with her un married daughter would be stood making pastry for the mince pies and when I popped my head round the door she would say I hope you have not come to play I am very busy she would let me sit at the table and watch her and she would talk away to me Can I have some pasty nan I would ask and she would break a little of her big piece I would try and copy what she did I ended up lots of flour all over my face but it was fun . On the night of Christmas eve My sister and I would go to bed and lay there I was so excited she would always say now don‘t expect all you have asked for will you he may leave a few and nans house I said I would be pleased ,We must have been laid there for a long time as the church bells would start ringing that did mean it was midnight all the carol singers went all through the village and snow sometimes would be just falling it was a wonderful sight as we would look out of our window I will never forget that I don‘t think it was so magical small things like that stay with a child
A walk down memory lane at Christmastime most often brings to mind; Snowflakes gently falling on a farmhouse surrounded by towering oaks in a huge yard, a snowcovered red barn, fenced fields, and pine trees in the distance covered in white. And inside—a warm crackling fire, the home and Christmas tree beautifully decorated and glowing with lights inside and out, smells of pies, cakes, and candies baking while stacks of presents wait under the tree to be opened. A Christmas filled with fairy tales, Santa Claus, a world at peace, cards and letters from friends and family, and cheery greetings from everyone you meet on the streets of your town. Its church choirs and people singing carols down wintry lanes. And it’s silver bells, eggnog, and apple cider with cinnamon sticks, happy faces on pink-cheeked children anxious and delighted with all the excitement and wonder of the holiday. Who wouldn’t love Christmas?
Yes, I’m at that stage in life where remembering and comparing the ‘Good Old’ Days’ to today just seem always to be better, and this most definitely includes Christmas holidays and how we celebrated them way back when. I do so miss the family closeness and traditions of earlier times; how being without much money jingling in your pocket made very little difference in the excitement of Christmas and the ways families celebrated it. Traditions were a great part of the celebrations then, and it makes
me sad to see some of these glorious experiences fading away because of commercialism and political correctness. But let’s reminisce a while starting with how some of these early traditions of Christmas were started,
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments. One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home. A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.
When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and could not go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. "Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew
through the flock and straight into the barn -- and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!" Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese -- blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us.
That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: "Thank You Jesus for coming in human form to show me the way out of the storm!"
The English Clog Maker or Clogger
A craft that has almost completely disappeared from the rural districts within the last few years (early 1960s) is that of clog making. The origins of this simply constructed piece of footwear are lost in the mists of antiquity, but clogs were certainly worn by rich and poor alike in the middle ages. In later times they were widely worn both on the factory floors, in mines and on the land, particularly in wales and the north of England. Although they may still be found in the textile mills of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the clogging factory still being fairly common in such towns as Huddersfield and Halifax, the old rural clog maker is now a rarity. In wales in 1918, for example, there were 65 specialised clog makers, excluding those who were also boot makers and repairers; in 1963 there were less than half a dozen working clog makers. With the changes in fashion of the last few years the clog makers has become a rarity and only a few representatives of the craft may be seen at work in Britain at a trade that demands considerable knowledge, not only of leatherwork, but of woodwork as well. Despite the gradual disappearance of the clog and its replacement by rubber boots, it is still a very practical piece of footwear, particularly for agricultural workers. With thick wooden soles and iron rims, the wearer's feet are kept well above the level of a wet floor and, since each pair is made to fit the feet of each individual customer, they can be extremely comfortable and warm. In the heyday of clog makers there were two distinct types of craftsmen engaged in the trade. They were: 1/ The village clog maker who made footwear for a local market. He made clogs for each individual customer, taking accurate
measurements of each foot, and cutting the clog soles to the shape of a paper pattern, made according to those measurements. His work will be considered later (below). 2/ The itinerant clogger or clog sole maker who was concerned only with the rough shaping of wooden soles which were sold to the clogging factories of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It was one of the most picturesque of all the rural crafts, but it has almost certainly disappeared completely from all parts of Britain. Before 1939, clogging gangs were a very common sight in all parts of Britain, but the alder groves of south Wales and the Border counties were particularly well-known as their haunt. Like the Buckinghamshire chair bodger and the Dorset hurdle maker, the clogger represented an age-old custom of craftsmanship; craftsmen who found it easier to take their few simple tools to the forests rather than take timber, often from inaccessible coppices, to a permanent village workshop.
For clog sole making the craftsman requires a timber that does not split easily, but on the other hand, it must be relatively easy to shape. As clogs are used on wet factory floors, mines and muddy fields, the sole must be durable in water and completely waterproof. Tough, resilient willow which lasts indefinitely in moist conditions is occasionally used by north country craftsmen as is birch and beech, but in that area as well as in Wales nearly all the clogs are equipped with alder or sycamore soles. While many village clog makers utilise sycamore, the itinerant cloggers, by tradition are craftsmen in alder. Alder, a riverside tree, grows best in good fertile soil, with running water near the roots. It grows profusely in favoured conditions, its seed being carried from one place to the other by the streams. The timber it produces is soft and perishable under ordinary conditions, for it contains a great deal of moisture. In wet places, however, it is extremely durable and for this reason alder is widely used for such specialised tasks as riveting river banks. It can only be harvested in the spring and summer months and must be left to season for at least nine months before it can be used. Clogging was therefore a seasonable occupation and gangs of a dozen or more craftsmen wandered from grove to grove, living a hard, tough life in roughly built temporary shelters. In Wales the clogger reckoned that the amount of money made from selling waste material as pea-sticks and firewood should be enough to buy all the food the gang needed while they worked in the woods. After felling alder trees no more than twenty-four inches in girth, the clogger sawed the tree trunks into logs of fixed lengths of four sizes 'men's,' 'women's,' 'middle's,' and 'children's.' Each log was then split with a beetle and wedge or with axe and mallet into blocks, which were cut with the cloggers knife into the rough shape and sizes of the clog soles. This process was known as 'breaking up.' If the alder trees used were small nine year coppice trees, their girth would be considerably smaller, and the splitting process with beetle and wedge was unnecessary. The work with the cloggers stock knife was highly skilled and intricate. The knife itself is made of one piece of steel, some thirty inches in
length, bent to an obtuse angle in the middle. The blade is some four inches deep and thirteen inches long and the whole knife terminates in a hook. This hook was fastened to a ring on a wooden post driven firmly into the ground and forming one of the supports of a low bench. The clogger grasped the wooden handle, which is at right angles to the shank, while with his left hand he held an alder billet, resting on the bench and moving it as required. The large cloggers knife known as a 'Bench,' or 'Paring knife,' is still produced by some large-scale manufacturers, and with its stout hook and long handle it gives play to the craftsman who wishes to make rapid cuts at different angles. As such it is still used for some purposes on factories along with a variety of modern machinery. The clogger, stooping over the knife, cut an alder billet into the rough shape of a sole with great certainty and speed. A deep notch was cut in the block at a point where heel and sole were designed to meet, and the clog blocks were built into small conical stacks. These stacks, which had to remain in the open air for some weeks if not months were built in such a way that air could circulate freely between the blocks to hasten the drying process, for 'breaking up' was undertaken while the timber was still green and moist. The rough blocks were then sent to north country clog factories where they were finally shaped in workshops.
The Village Clog maker
A craft closely related to that of boot making is that of clogmaking. Indeed in some parts of the country one craftsman was responsible for making both types of footwear. In others, however, the clog maker was a specialised craftsman, concerned only with making wooden soled clogs. In addition to itinerant cloggers almost every village and rural locality, particularly in the north and west, had its clog maker, who made footwear for each individual buyer, measuring the feet and making clogs to fit those feet. Unlike the clogger, the village craftsman used a great deal of sycamore. In the past Welsh clog makers reckoned that a sycamore tree cut from the hedgerow produced far superior soles to those cut from a forest or plantation. The trees are felled and immediately converted into sole blocks; first with beetle and wedge, then with an axe and finally with the large stock knife. The process so far, is similar to that adopted by itinerant cloggers, and a few deft strokes with this guillotine-like stock knife soon reduces the blocks of wood to nearly the correct shape. In the case of the village clog maker, however, measurements that are more accurate than the cloggers 'men's', 'women's', 'middles' and 'children's' are adopted, for the clog maker measures the customer's feet accurately and transfers those measurements to a paper pattern. In many clog makers’ workshops, patterns representing the feet of generations of local inhabitants may still be found.
After highly-skilled work with the stock knife, a similar knife, but in this case with a convex blade some three inches wide is used to shape the top surface. This is the hollowing knife and it is followed by the mort icing knife or gripper, whose narrow V-shaped blade cuts a channel for fitting the leather uppers all-round the sole. Finally the sole is finished with rasps and short-bladed knives until it is perfectly smooth. The leather uppers are again cut out in accordance with a paper pattern, the method of working being the same as clicking in boot making. Stiffeners are inserted at the heels, lace holes are cut and eyelets fitted and the assembled leather uppers are strained over a wooden last. It is tacked in place, hammered into shape and left in the last for a few hours to be moulded into the correct shape. Unlike a boot, the clog is removed from the last before assembling. Unlike the boot, too, the clog upper is not sewn to the sole, but nailed with short flat-headed nails. A narrow strip of leather is cut and placed over the 'unction of uppers and sole. Great care has to be taken to ensure that the nails used in assembling point downwards and are in no danger of damaging the wearer's feet. Replaceable grooved irons are nailed to the sole and heel; a bright copper or brass tip is tacked to the front and the clogs
are ready for wear. I thought you would be interested in this not my work
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/8 tsp. salt 2 cups powdered sugar 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 cup red candied cherries, chopped 1/2 cup green candied cherries, chopped
Christmas Fudge Directions:
Spray an 8x8" baking dish with cooking spray. In a large saucepan, bring the sugar, butter, cream and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Let boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla, stirring until smooth and well combined. Stir in the cherries until evenly distributed. Spoon Christmas Fudge into a baking dish and chill for 1 hour or until firm. Cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container. From VERA
Christmas Holly Cookie Directions
30 marshmallows (large) 1/2 cup butter green paste food colouring 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4-1/2 cup corn flakes, Granola or rice cereal cinnamon red hots red liquorice (optional) Microwave marshmallows, butter, and food colouring on 1/2 power for 2 minutes, or until melted. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Fold in corn flakes or granola until completely covered with cooked mixture. Form into holly shapes on waxed paper. Add candy for berries and tie on red liquorice while still warm. Once the Christmas Holly Cookies cool the candy will not stick. Can use a red ribbon instead of liquorice for a tie.
The Scottish people have their big celebrations on New Year's Day, called Hogmanay. A long time ago There is a superstition that it is bad luck for the fire to go out on Christmas Eve, since it is at this time that the elves are abroad and only a raging fire will keep them from coming down the chimney. On Christmas day, people sometimes make big bonfires and dance around them to the playing of bagpipes. Bannock cakes made of oatmeal are traditionally eaten at Christmas. In Scotland, Christmas had traditionally been celebrated very quietly, because the Church of Scotland - the Presbyterian Church - has never placed any great emphasis on the Christmas festival, However, the Scots are members of the Church of England or other churches generally celebrate Christmas in the same way as the English people disapproved of Christmas for they believed that there was too much riotous festivity that went on. Nowadays these things are held at Hogmanay, but they do celebrate Christmas with some very interesting customs. Australia - Christmas traditions & customs
In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer--it's not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas day. In Sydney, thousands of families prepare their Christmas dinner and take it to Bondi Beach for a picnic. Australians decorate with Christmas Bushes, plants with little red-flowered leaves that are native to Australia.
Ireland - Christmas traditions & customs Christmas in Ireland lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to Little Christmas. Ireland's Christmas is more religious than a time of fun. Lighted candles are placed in windows on Christmas Eve, as a guide that Joseph and Mary might be looking for shelter. The candles are usually red in colour, and decorated with sprigs of holly. Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year's Day and the Twelfth Night. After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of hospitality. St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony
is to ask for money 'for the starving wren', that is, for their own pockets.
Story I Just Heard
This morning I heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children; after many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year - overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the elevator She pushed her way into the elevator and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot." From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry. We already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. I laughed when I heard this what children will say From Vera
I n December 1940, the Oxford Mail boldly declared: ‗There‘ll always be a Christmas‘ — but the festive season was never quite the Same in wartime. Families were scattered, people were understandably anxious about the future and the delights which formed a key feature of the traditional Christmas were in short supply. The separation of families had a profound effect. Over three million British men and women were in the armed forces and those serving overseas might be away from home for years. Silk stockings ceased to be available from December 1940, causing chaos in Oxford as women rushed to buy up the last supplies. At Elliston’s, the
counter had to be closed for two hours to allow shop assistants to recover.’ Many servicemen and women were based in the United Kingdom for much of the war but only a small proportion could hope to get Christmas leave. War workers and evacuees might also be living miles from home and even those who were notionally free to travel faced all the difficulties of wartime travel with petrol rationing and crowded trains. On the Home Front, the celebration of Christmas took on almost a patriotic note. In December 1939, the editor of the Oxford Monthly looked forward to ‘Christmas as Usual’, arguing that ‘it remains an important part of our war effort that we should “carry on” and so help to maintain the morale of our population.’ Tradesmen took up this theme and Millward’s in Oxford urged customers to ‘Brighten the Blackout — Give Everyone Cosy Colourful Slippers’; in Thame, John Walker Ltd., trusted that buying the firm’s fruit, nuts, mistletoe and Christmas trees would have the same effect. Wiblin’s in Oxford offered a good range of English, Irish and imported turkeys and Morrell’s Brewery advertised its traditional College Ale for Christmas cheer. Badcock’s suggested that ‘Stockings solve the Gift Problem . . . in the most pleasing manner’ and Nurse the Furrier advised that ‘A Fur Coat is a Real Economy and Necessity in these days.’ Cape’s and Ward’s had plenty of toys and Elliston’s boasted a ‘grand collection of the very latest Toys, Games and Gifts.’ Later in the war, the rationing of food, sweets and clothes and concentration on vital war production seriously diminished the supply of Christmas goodies. Turkey became an expensive rarity and mutton pie was one recommended alternative for Christmas dinner. Hardly any fruit was imported and making Christmas pudding with carrots was suggested in 1944. Sweets became scarce in 1940 when sugar was rationed and sweet rationing was introduced in July 1942, limiting each adult and child to eight ounces of sweets every four weeks. Ice cream vanished, although strange concoctions were made using substitute materials.
Silk stockings ceased to be available from December 1940, causing chaos in Oxford as women rushed to buy up the last supplies. At Elliston‘s, the counter had to be closed for two hours to allow shop assistants to recover Many women subsequently painted their legs with coffee or suntan lotion and asked a friend with a steady hand to apply the ‗seam‘ with an eyebrow pencil. In 1944, Millward‘s in Henley offered women ‗warm, comfortable, sturdy and very stylish‘ wood-soled shoes, cheerfully explaining that Allied airmen were flying to victory in the material previously used for fleece-lined booties! Christmas trees became scarce and, although people continued to send Christmas cards, regimental greetings cards like those offered by Pankhurst‘s in Bicester in 1943 were often preferred to traditional stagecoach and snow scenes. A flood of military toys appeared at the beginning of the war — lead soldiers, uniformed dolls, model air raid precautions units, even toy bombs on a string — but most toys vanished from the shops by 1941. Local papers were crammed with advertisements for second-hand toys and one woman commented that ‗At Christmas our home resembled Santa Claus‘s workshop‘ as members of the family busied themselves as amateur toymakers. One little girl simply asked Santa for ‗any little thing you can spare.‘ The blackout forced churches to abandon Midnight Mass at Christmas and required carol singers to direct the light from their lanterns towards the ground to avoid signalling to enemy planes. Even air raid wardens in Oxford had their Christmas tea postponed until the following spring because the venue was insufficiently blacked out! Hartwell’s in December 1940 sent Season’s Greetings to their customers and remarked that ‘We live in interestingly difficult times.’ It was an apt description of both wartime Christmases and the wider struggle
Christmas in Cawston near Norwich 1950's and 1960's
Preparations for Christmas in Cawston in the 1950‘s and 1960 are started just after Bonfire night. This was the time when the small family-owned business in the village began to decorate their shop windows. From week to week stockings for children filled with mars bars, bounties and crunchies as well as other festive items appeared between boxes of biscuits and the multi-coloured decorations in the shop windows. For the local shops Christmas was the largest annual economic stimulus. It was also the time of year when many people in Cawston were asking: ―What are you doing for Xmas‖ or ―What do you want for Christmas?‖ In those days it was tradition to spend Christmas with the family. I never heard of anyone in the village flying to the Canary Isles. On certain nights in December the countryside around Cawston seemed to take on distinct a quality of its own, especially when the gloomy light of the full moon was visible. The dampness of November or December frequently caused by fog coming from the coast often left considerable moisture in the empty arable fields. There were a few years in the 1950‘s and 1960‘s when the hedgerows, trees and the roofs of cottages and houses were covered with a thick layer of shining white frost in the sunlight. Sometimes when the skies were clear in the evenings you could see several bright stars over the horizon.
I also recall some unusual cries in the quietness of the late evenings and was told that these were the cries of foxes in the surrounding fields and woods.
Frequently just before Christmas my mother would eagerly peer out of the kitchen window, step outside and standing in front of the old mill she would scan the skies for a change in the wind to the north or east, to see if snow was coming our way. She would often say to herself: ―I wonder if this will be a white Christmas‖. Walking around Norwich on any Saturday in December you would always see the Salvation Army singing Christmas carols on a street corner trying to attract the attention of passers-by to help fill their collection tins. Many stopped to admire their dark blue costumes and to listen to their singing accompanied by percussion instruments. All the People seemed to spend a lot of time going from shop to shop. They spent in particular a lot of time in Woolworths and Marks and Spencer‘s, the main two stores for shopping in the 1950‘s. As you walked around the bags got heavier and heavier and we was always told in certain shops to look the other way. We usually had a cup of drink in Woolworths and a well-deserved rest before spending a penny (which did actually cost a penny in those days) and continuing with the shopping. What wonderful Memories those days was
We hope you have enjoyed this small Christmas newsletter it is only small but some nice reading
Christine and myself would like to wish all our members a very happy Christmas and a happy New Year and thank you for being with us yet another year x Answers to the quiz 1 Coca Cola 2 Franklin Pierce 3 Germans 4 Blue 5 1843 6 Max 7 UK 8 Clarice 9 Donner 10 It’s a wonderful Life Now did you get them all correct
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