My Weekly Special

Have A Medieval Christmas!

Fascinatin­g facts from Yules of yore to make you cry “Forsooth!”


■ The tradition of stirring the pudding on the Sunday before Advent was well establishe­d by the 1800s. Children would add silver tokens for luck, and holly berries were put on top to ward off witches.

■ In medieval times, there were many religious holy days – or holidays – but Christmas was by far the most anticipate­d as it lasted a full 12 days of feasting and merry-making.

■ Kissing boughs were hung from the ceilings and decorated with seasonal fruits – later, mistletoe was used – and symbolised good luck and fertility in the coming year.

■ Another Middle Ages tradition was for lords to send out the leftovers of their Christmas feast the following day in boxes for the serfs – hence Boxing Day on December 26.

■ If you really wanted to impress your guests in the middle ages, you would present the Yule Boar on a huge silver platter with an apple in its mouth. If you were too poor for a boar, a pie in the shape of a pig was a popular alternativ­e.

■ Long before Christmas as we know it began, medieval castles hung up evergreens and lit fires to brighten winter’s dark days.

■ The original Yule logs were enormous, and were burned throughout the 12 days of the mid-winter festivals. If a log continued to burn beyond Twelfth Night, the household would have a prosperous year.

■ An ancient New Year tradition was to go room to room and open every window, no matter how cold it was, to let the old year (and its evil spirits) out, leaving everything new for the coming year.

Twelfth Night, or January 5, brought the festivitie­s to a close, so it was pretty racy! Shakespear­e’s Twelfth Night was to be performed on Twelfth Night, hence all the cross-dressing, practical jokes, merrymakin­g and mischief.

In the Middle Ages, plum pudding was a popular midwinter dish – but it was made with beef or veal, cooked in dried fruit, spices and claret

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