Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, 24 December 2012

Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding - Merry Christmas to All!

The Idle Historian constantly laments the increasingly early nature of Christmas accoutrements: the marketing, store displays, decorations, and above all, music being played before its time. But society has determined that we will all get into the spirit early, and there is one arena in which hearing about Christmas long before December 25th is tolerable - food. I started coming across articles about Christmas food back in November - one of them being this piece which states that, in parallel to a longing for all things nostalgic, real Christmas fruitcake and Christmas "pudding," British style, are making a comeback. As one person who devotes a great deal of time to the making of a proper pudding puts it:

It does require some time, but it’s worth it.... All of those three things — the pudding, the cakes and the mincemeat — share those rich flavours of raisins and oranges and lemons and nutmeg. For me, they’re the fragrances, the aromas of Christmas. 

[Traditional Christmas Pudding. Picture via story in The Province]

All well and good. But, alas, our contemporary existence is full of stress, obligations, and other constraints. We don't all have the time to make an exquisite pudding from scratch, despite our best intentions. But even if our treats come from a packet made by others, the important thing this season is to be with family and friends (or have contact with them if they are far away), and to spread joy and merriment. In the end, it is the only lasting thing. So: a very Merry Christmas to all you dear readers, and best wishes for a happy 2013.

Here are two lovely Edwardian greeting cards to bring you cheer:

[A Cherub, circa 1907]

[Carollers, circa 1910]

Read more reflections on history, idleness, and the art of living from the Idle Historian in To The Idler The Spoils 

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas and Edwardian Cheer

It doesn't matter what happens to a man but it does matter how he takes it. That's the true spirit of an Edwardian gentleman.

 -- Herbert Johnson (“adventurer, stockjobber, and sportsman”), and owner of the famed Marsh Court in Hampshire
Merry Christmas to all the dear readers of these intermittent posts on Eating Like an Edwardian. May the indefatigable spirit expressed by Herbert Johnson guide you throughout 2012.

Some Edwardian workers from 1910 are manufacturing Christmas crackers for you. Enjoy a lovely holiday celebration full of cheer!

Read more reflections on history, idleness, and the art of living from the Idle Historian in To The Idler The Spoils 

Saturday, 25 December 2010

An Edwardian-Style Christmas

Christmas feasts during the Edwardian period were very much along the lines of its Victorian predecessor. For rich, poor, and middle classes alike, the festivities were an important time of conviviality, celebration, fun, and charity. The very poor could look forward to some paternalistic charity, the only slightly poor would save in order to be able to afford a few treats. I have forgotten the reference from this period that I once read, to the effect that the rich were better able to scoff at Christmas than the poor. For the poor any receipt of food hampers or charity might prove essential to surviving the cold winter months. The wealthier, without such worries, were able to obtain all the fineries and expensive ingredients that went into many specialities such as meat pies, plum pudding, or rare aspics and jellies.

["Christmas Dole"- A Painting by Joseph Clark]

Christmas dinner consisted of fare that had become popular in the Victorian period, and that is largely unchanged today. Food critics who dislike the traditional Christmas meal are keen to point out that since it comes around only once a year, it has not had a chance to "evolve" as have other modern culinary standards. Yet it is unlikely that they will change to any great extent -- entwined as they are with nostalgia, memory, and our innate longing for things as they were. So the Edwardian Christmas feast is not at all unfamiliar to us: turkey or goose, stuffed. Gibblets and drippings were used to prepare vegetable dishes such as potatoes.

The meal was capped off with a traditional plum pudding -- full of expensive ingredients such as currants and candied fruits -- which had been prepared some weeks before and allowed to mellow. It was served with brandy butter, usually, and along with mince pies and other Yule pastries and treats. All, of course, washed down with clarets and port -- that most favourite Edwardian drink.

And so I raise a proverbial glass to all the lovely readers of this occasional blog about food, history, nostalgia, Britishness, and random things. Knowing that you are out there reading these musings make them worthwhile. A very merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

Read more reflections on history, idleness, and the art of living from the Idle Historian in To The Idler The Spoils 
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