Holiday Traditions in the British Isles

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==== Before Christmas & Christmas Day ====
 
==== Before Christmas & Christmas Day ====
  
·         The ‘greening’ of Christmas – holly and ivy, mistletoe, and the Christmas tree.
+
·         The ‘greening’ of Christmas – holly and ivy, mistletoe, and the Christmas tree.
  
·         Father Christmas/St. Nicholas – the popular patron saint of little children.  St. Nicholas’ Day is December 6<sup>th</sup>.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Father Christmas/St. Nicholas – the popular patron saint of little children.&nbsp; St. Nicholas’ Day is December 6<sup>th</sup>.
  
·         St. Thomas’ Day, December 21<sup>st</sup> – poor widows went door to door begging for food and money.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; St. Thomas’ Day, December 21<sup>st</sup> – poor widows went door to door begging for food and money.
  
·         Caroling – the Welsh are particularly fond of and noted for their singing.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Caroling – the Welsh are particularly fond of and noted for their singing.
  
·         Wassailling – to drink from the wassail bowl – a traditional drink made with apples and spices.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Wassailling – to drink from the wassail bowl – a traditional drink made with apples and spices.
  
·         Mummers – An 800 year old tradition – troops of ‘mummers’ would put on a traditional play.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Mummers – An 800 year old tradition – troops of ‘mummers’ would put on a traditional play.
  
·         Pantomime – more traditional plays.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pantomime – more traditional plays.
  
·         Christmas cards began in 1843.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Christmas cards began in 1843.
  
·         ''A Christmas Carol'' by Charles Dickens was published in December 1843 and more than 15,000 copies were sold within a year.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; ''A Christmas Carol'' by Charles Dickens was published in December 1843 and more than 15,000 copies were sold within a year.
  
·         Candles were placed in the windows to light the way for the Christ Child, and to invite anyone in need into the home.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Candles were placed in the windows to light the way for the Christ Child, and to invite anyone in need into the home.
  
·         Christmas Day, celebrated on Dec. 25, coinciding with ancient celebrations of the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Christmas Day, celebrated on Dec. 25, coinciding with ancient celebrations of the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere.
  
§         Christmas dinner and pudding
+
§&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Christmas dinner and pudding
  
 
* Christmas crackers
 
* Christmas crackers
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====  ====
 
====  ====
  
==== December 26<sup>th</sup>, ST. STEPHEN’s DAY<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== December 26<sup>th</sup>, ST. STEPHEN’s DAY<br> ====
  
·         He was a disciple of Christ, one of seven to whom the twelve Apostles gave the task of caring for the widows and the poor.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; He was a disciple of Christ, one of seven to whom the twelve Apostles gave the task of caring for the widows and the poor.
  
·         St. Stephen is the patron saint of alms giving.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; St. Stephen is the patron saint of alms giving.
  
·         On St. Stephen’s Day the alms boxes were opened and alms were given to the poor.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On St. Stephen’s Day the alms boxes were opened and alms were given to the poor.
  
==== DECEMBER 26<sup>th</sup>, BOXING DAY<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== DECEMBER 26<sup>th</sup>, BOXING DAY<br> ====
  
·         A day for giving to the poor and to those who serve you throughout the year.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; A day for giving to the poor and to those who serve you throughout the year.
  
·         The origin comes from the tradition of opening the church alms boxes on this day and distributing alms to the poor.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The origin comes from the tradition of opening the church alms boxes on this day and distributing alms to the poor.
  
·         Or, it comes from the tradition of the wealthy boxing up the left-over of their Christmas feast and giving it to their servants and poor.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Or, it comes from the tradition of the wealthy boxing up the left-over of their Christmas feast and giving it to their servants and poor.
  
·         Tips are given to those who serve you such as the postman or dustman.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Tips are given to those who serve you such as the postman or dustman.
  
·         In Ireland, young men in extravagant dress, sometimes wearing masks, parade noisily through the streets in the Wren Boys' Procession. They carry a long pole on top of which is attached a holly bush. The bush supposedly contains a captured wren, and for whose sake the young men beg for money.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In Ireland, young men in extravagant dress, sometimes wearing masks, parade noisily through the streets in the Wren Boys' Procession. They carry a long pole on top of which is attached a holly bush. The bush supposedly contains a captured wren, and for whose sake the young men beg for money.
  
==== THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS<br> ====
  
·         Begin on December 25th and end on January 5th, called Twelfth Night.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Begin on December 25th and end on January 5th, called Twelfth Night.
  
 
====  ====
 
====  ====
  
==== RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM<br> ====
  
·         The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas.
  
·         Two turtle doves represent the two books of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Two turtle doves represent the two books of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments.
  
·         Three French hens represent the Three Christian Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Three French hens represent the Three Christian Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
  
·         Four calling birds represent the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Four calling birds represent the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  
·         Five gold rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Five gold rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament.
  
·         Six geese a-laying represent the six days or periods of the Creation.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Six geese a-laying represent the six days or periods of the Creation.
  
·         Seven swans a-swimming represent seven gifts of the Spirit (see Romans12:6-8).
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Seven swans a-swimming represent seven gifts of the Spirit (see Romans12:6-8).
  
·         Eight maids a-milking represent the eight Beatitudes.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Eight maids a-milking represent the eight Beatitudes.
  
·         Nine ladies dancing represent the nine Fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22).
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Nine ladies dancing represent the nine Fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22).
  
·         Ten lords a-leaping represent the Ten Commandments.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ten lords a-leaping represent the Ten Commandments.
  
·         Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles of Jesus Christ.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles of Jesus Christ.
  
·         Twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.
  
''''''
+
'
  
 
'''NEW YEAR’S EVE'''
 
'''NEW YEAR’S EVE'''
  
'''''' ·         The new year used to begin in the Spring on March 25<sup>th</sup> and was not changed to January 1<sup>st</sup> in England until 1752 (Scotland changed in 1600).
+
''''''&nbsp;·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The new year used to begin in the Spring on March 25<sup>th</sup> and was not changed to January 1<sup>st</sup> in England until 1752 (Scotland changed in 1600).'''''
  
·         New Year’s Eve is a time for partying with family and friends and visiting each other’s homes.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; New Year’s Eve is a time for partying with family and friends and visiting each other’s homes.
  
·         On the stroke of midnight church bells peel throughout the land.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On the stroke of midnight church bells peel throughout the land.
  
·         “First Footing” is the tradition of having a dark stranger be first to step over your threshold at midnight.  He brings coal, food, and a coin for good luck and your feed him.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “First Footing” is the tradition of having a dark stranger be first to step over your threshold at midnight.&nbsp; He brings coal, food, and a coin for good luck and your feed him.
  
·         “Hogmanay” is what the New Year’s Eve party is called in Scotland and gifts may be exchanged at midnight.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “Hogmanay” is what the New Year’s Eve party is called in Scotland and gifts may be exchanged at midnight.
  
==== TWELFTH NIGHT<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== TWELFTH NIGHT<br> ====
  
·         Twelfth Night is the eve of January 5<sup>th</sup> and is the official end of the twelve days of Christmas.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Twelfth Night is the eve of January 5<sup>th</sup> and is the official end of the twelve days of Christmas.
  
·         Again parties are held, plays are put on, and bonfires are lit.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Again parties are held, plays are put on, and bonfires are lit.
  
·         Christmas decorations are taken down.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Christmas decorations are taken down.
  
==== EPIPHANY<br clear="all" /> ====
+
==== EPIPHANY<br> ====
  
·         Epiphany is the commemoration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Baby Jesus.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Epiphany is the commemoration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Baby Jesus.
  
·         It is the climax of the Christmas season.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It is the climax of the Christmas season.
  
·         Gifts may be exchanged on this day instead of Christmas.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Gifts may be exchanged on this day instead of Christmas.
  
 
'''SOURCES OF INFORMATION'''
 
'''SOURCES OF INFORMATION'''
  
·         Baker, Margaret, ''Folklore and Customs of Rural England'', FHL book 942 H7bm.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Baker, Margaret, ''Folklore and Customs of Rural England'', FHL book 942 H7bm.
  
·         Hole, Christina, ''English Custom &amp; Usage'', FHL book 942 H6hc.
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hole, Christina, ''English Custom &amp; Usage'', FHL book 942 H6hc.
  
·         Various Internet web sites, especially http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Xmas/
+
·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Various Internet web sites, especially http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Xmas/
 +
 
 +
[[Category:England]]

Revision as of 17:47, 24 January 2008

Article describing Christmas holiday traditions in the British Isles.

Contents

Before Christmas & Christmas Day

·         The ‘greening’ of Christmas – holly and ivy, mistletoe, and the Christmas tree.

·         Father Christmas/St. Nicholas – the popular patron saint of little children.  St. Nicholas’ Day is December 6th.

·         St. Thomas’ Day, December 21st – poor widows went door to door begging for food and money.

·         Caroling – the Welsh are particularly fond of and noted for their singing.

·         Wassailling – to drink from the wassail bowl – a traditional drink made with apples and spices.

·         Mummers – An 800 year old tradition – troops of ‘mummers’ would put on a traditional play.

·         Pantomime – more traditional plays.

·         Christmas cards began in 1843.

·         A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was published in December 1843 and more than 15,000 copies were sold within a year.

·         Candles were placed in the windows to light the way for the Christ Child, and to invite anyone in need into the home.

·         Christmas Day, celebrated on Dec. 25, coinciding with ancient celebrations of the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere.

§         Christmas dinner and pudding

  • Christmas crackers
  • The Queen’s speech

December 26th, ST. STEPHEN’s DAY

·         He was a disciple of Christ, one of seven to whom the twelve Apostles gave the task of caring for the widows and the poor.

·         St. Stephen is the patron saint of alms giving.

·         On St. Stephen’s Day the alms boxes were opened and alms were given to the poor.

DECEMBER 26th, BOXING DAY

·         A day for giving to the poor and to those who serve you throughout the year.

·         The origin comes from the tradition of opening the church alms boxes on this day and distributing alms to the poor.

·         Or, it comes from the tradition of the wealthy boxing up the left-over of their Christmas feast and giving it to their servants and poor.

·         Tips are given to those who serve you such as the postman or dustman.

·         In Ireland, young men in extravagant dress, sometimes wearing masks, parade noisily through the streets in the Wren Boys' Procession. They carry a long pole on top of which is attached a holly bush. The bush supposedly contains a captured wren, and for whose sake the young men beg for money.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

·         Begin on December 25th and end on January 5th, called Twelfth Night.

RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM

·         The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas.

·         Two turtle doves represent the two books of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments.

·         Three French hens represent the Three Christian Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

·         Four calling birds represent the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

·         Five gold rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament.

·         Six geese a-laying represent the six days or periods of the Creation.

·         Seven swans a-swimming represent seven gifts of the Spirit (see Romans12:6-8).

·         Eight maids a-milking represent the eight Beatitudes.

·         Nine ladies dancing represent the nine Fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22).

·         Ten lords a-leaping represent the Ten Commandments.

·         Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles of Jesus Christ.

·         Twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.

'

NEW YEAR’S EVE

' ·         The new year used to begin in the Spring on March 25th and was not changed to January 1st in England until 1752 (Scotland changed in 1600).

·         New Year’s Eve is a time for partying with family and friends and visiting each other’s homes.

·         On the stroke of midnight church bells peel throughout the land.

·         “First Footing” is the tradition of having a dark stranger be first to step over your threshold at midnight.  He brings coal, food, and a coin for good luck and your feed him.

·         “Hogmanay” is what the New Year’s Eve party is called in Scotland and gifts may be exchanged at midnight.

TWELFTH NIGHT

·         Twelfth Night is the eve of January 5th and is the official end of the twelve days of Christmas.

·         Again parties are held, plays are put on, and bonfires are lit.

·         Christmas decorations are taken down.

EPIPHANY

·         Epiphany is the commemoration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Baby Jesus.

·         It is the climax of the Christmas season.

·         Gifts may be exchanged on this day instead of Christmas.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

·         Baker, Margaret, Folklore and Customs of Rural England, FHL book 942 H7bm.

·         Hole, Christina, English Custom & Usage, FHL book 942 H6hc.

·         Various Internet web sites, especially http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Xmas/