Saturday, 23 November 2013

Cristmas tree

Have you set up your Christmas Tree yet? I haven't, I resist until a couple of weeks before the big day.
Then I crawl into the attic and try and find the boxes of ornaments that have disappeared under a year's
worth of clutter, and why do the wires of the fairy lights always get tangled?
But never;s a bit of waffle about Christmas trees!
The traditional decoration in England was always the Yule Log, the earliest mention of a  Christmas Tree was in 1829. There is a note in Grevilles Diary in which he describes three little Christmas trees he saw at Pashanger. Princess Lieven was apparently responsible for this spectacle, 'as is customary in Germany.'
Prince Albert is usually credited with the introduction of Christmas Trees, starting the custom at Windsor in 1841, although George III's  wife Queen Charlotte introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800;but the custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family. Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with the custom and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote, "After dinner... we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room... There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees.
After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert by 1841 the custom became even more widespread throughout Britain.    In 1847, Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be". In 1848 The Illustrated London News described the trees in Windsor Castle in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them, as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman in Somerset, whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree. They had not yet spread down the social scale however, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic".
A Saints Day particularly associated with Christmas is St Thomas's Day 21st Dec, although he has no particular association with the day itself it is the Winter Solstice.
'St Thomas Grey, St Thomas Grey
Longest night and shortest day'
Uptil until the second world war women went a 'Thomassing' or  'agooding' going from house to house to beg for wheat to make Christmas cakes and bread. Each householder was obliged to hand over a pint of wheat which was then taken to the village mill to be ground into flour without charge. In return for the donation of grain a sprig of holly or mistletoe would be given. In Staffordshire the clergyman also gave the women each a shilling and in some parishes a collection was taken in Church and called St Thomases Dole.

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