Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Georgian Era Christmas

The Stuart Period was followed by the Georgian Period (1714 - 1830). Thanks to King Charles II, the celebration of Christmas was restored. The Georgians took the holiday seriously and celebrated it with parties, balls, and  family dinners. 

Keeping to traditions, the holiday dinner menu included roasted goose and/or turkey, and of course Plum Pudding and Wassail.

A Traditional Plum Pudding
1 lb of eggs
1 ½ lb of shredded suet  (the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods including puddings, pastry, and mincemeat)
1 lb raisins
1 lb dried plums
1lb mixed peel
1 lb of currants
1 lb sultanas (a small, light brown, seedless raisin used in foods such as puddings and cakes)
1 lb flour
1 lb sugar
1 lb breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ grated nutmeg
½ pint of milk
½ teaspoon of salt
the juice of a lemon
a large glass of brandy
Let stand for 12 hours
Boil for 8 hours and boil again on Christmas Day for 2 hours

Both the affluent and the commoners decorated their homes. Rich and poor used traditional holly, ivy, and mistletoe throughout their homes. But, like with the traditions of the Tudors, it was bad luck to decorate until Christmas Eve. The Christmas Bough, that dated back centuries was very popular. The Georgians built on the traditions. In addition to 'boughs' they had 'Christmas Balls'. They added candles, fruit, rosemary, and other  things to the basic greenery. Also, the Yule log tradition continued.

Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, introduced the Christmas Tree, a tradition she grew up with as a child in Germany. However, the tradition did not take. 

The Georgian Christmas Season lasted almost a month. On December 6, St. Nicholas' Day, and the first day of the holiday season, gifts were exchanged among friends and family. Then on St. Stephen's Day, December 26, the more affluent gave to charity and those with servants and staff presented them 'Christmas Boxes', ergo the designation of 'Boxing Day.'

Then on the last night, January 6,  they celebrated the '12th Night'. In addition to the ever present '12th Night Cake', there was much eating, drinking, games, and dancing.

Major social and cultural changes occurred during this period. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, there were new norms for the work force. Life had changed, the rural life in, which generations had grown up  experiencing, was ebbing. Employers expected the workers to continue their jobs, even through the traditional 'Holiday Season.'  For the working class, this was the beginning of the shortened Christmas Celebration, we have today.

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