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Glamorgan Antiques Newsletter

Christmas 2002 - Newsletter # 9

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Welcome all to this Ninth Christmas newsletter from Glamorgan antiques.We hope that it will appeal to all lovers of Antiques, whether newcomers or more experienced Collectors.Anyway, the learning process in Antiques never ends,we all get to be more experienced but we never stop learning.

In This Edition

Christmas celebrations from days gone by

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The celebration of Pagan Christmas came about because of the need to have some enjoyment in the bleak and long Winter periods, that coincided with the Winter Solstice when days were at their shortest.Pope Gregory promulgated December the 25th in the year 350 AD,as the date of Christ's birth.The early Christian kings made the festival a time of feasting and jousting..The Viking invasions of the 9th and 10th centuries brought the name "Yule",the name of their mid Winter celebrations, and they combined this with the Boar's head feast, and the carrying in ritual of a blazing log decked in evergreen.
In the Middle Ages,Christmas in the Royal Courts of Europe,was a great spectacle of never ending feasting and jollity.In 1252,Henry the 5th had 600 Oxen slaughtered for a 5 day feast.Even the poor people would enjoy a joint of meat or a pigeon pie.Elizabeth the 1st was a great lover of Christmas as she loved plays, and frequented the Play houses regularly to watch the great plays of her favourite playwrite,William Shakespeare.The most she ever watched at one Christmas was seven plays.
The Puritan period under Oliver Cromwell in Britain, banned Christmas celebrations by decree,they said it was popish idolatry and licentiousness,however riots against the banned celebrations did occur.
Christmas, returned with the Monarchy, but the tone was quieter,more humble and more family orientated.The holiday was no longer the property of the Court but had taken on a more domestic flavour.The wealthy land owners now acted with more charity towards the poor people,tenants and labourers of large estates were invited to join in the feasting with the "big" house, and the old Anglo saxon custom of the Wassail Bowl was reinstated.During the 18th century the Pantomine was created, and the fashion for games such as Blind Man's Buff and Charades were all the vogue.The country squires rode to hounds and the poor people sought out their enjoyment in travelling fairgrounds and puppet shows.
Once Queen Victoria took the throne of England, everything changed at Christmas yet again.This was the age of the Romantic and Nostalgic Christmas.Family life was actively promoted by the Monarchy, and every family wanted to emulate the Christmas day of the Royals.This then was the era of the Child enjoying Christmas,with the adults looking on.Tin toys and greeting cards appeared in 1843, the Father Christmas we know and love was invented around this time too.People were prepared to travel long distances to join their families in the most terrible and delapidated swaying stagecoaches, heavily laden with hampers and presents, dashing through lanes and picturesque snow laden Country villages..Later on Steam trains became all the vogue for travelling, and the travellers were somewhat more comfortable in these than in the old coaches.Although perhaps some of the glamour of the old way of travel was now lost.Christmas Carols were also revived in Victoria's days, and they would be sung by scholars in the streets lit only by the light of their lanterns.
Boxing day was celebrated in style with all sorts of outdoor sporting activities.Only the rich could afford skating boots, others wore strapped on blades, and sledges were real luxury items.Skating was very popular with both sexes,but some ladies resorted to being pushed around the ice in chairs for safety.Street booths were set up for Boxing and wrestling while horse racing, hunting and shooting were greatly enjoyed with much relish by the landed gentry.(The Winters around the time of the mid 19th century were very bad indeed, as this was the time of a mini Ice age when the great explorer John Franklin and his brave men died, while trying to find the North West Passage)..Frozen ponds in the town parks and on country estates were often very thick with ice the whole Winter through,indeed the Queen herself had a lake built at Osborne house solely for her family to enjoy their Winter sport of skating.All the participants were heavily clothed in furs and mufflers, but some of the more adventurous boys and men, enjoyed tobogganing, known then as coasting.Cut down Windsor chairs made excellent runners.
Modern Christmas is very much a 19th century creation.The Christmas tree evolved from pagan and Christian customs, popular in in Germany and other Scandinavian countries long before it was in Great Britain and America,but it made the height of popularity in Queen Victorias days because of her love of family life and family traditions, and the fact that her husband,Prince Albert,who was a German had introduced the tradition to Queen Victoria and subsequently the people of Great Britain....This sentimentality is exemplified in Charles Dickens >A Christmas Carol.....Everyone in the family,gathered to celebrate Christmas, much as they do now.The houses were warm and cosy decorated with greenery from the wayside lanes and gardens, and some home made paper swags. On Christmas day all would attend Church and then afterwards, they would join together around the great Victorian dining tables to enjoy a very elaborate feast of traditional foods.After eating, they would then give each other gifts in the afternoon and play games.The family pianist and violinist would of course be "used" extensively, as there was no television in those days to entertain the family.
On January the 6th all decorations were taken down to ensure that the household luck endured throughout the coming New Year.This again was a throwback to the ancient rituals from the dark Ages.
One ancient custom that has remained to the present time is the kissing under the Mistletoe.This came from the pagan rites of the Druids, to whom it was very sacred.Ancient Scandinavians believed that if enemies should meet beneath the boughs of the Mistletoe they would forget their differences and embrace.. There is "nothing new that isn't old" would seem a very appropriate adage to this most ancient of customs.

Glamorgan Antiques UK,wishes all our customers,both old and new, a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Glamorgan antiques Christmas 2002.

Christmas 2002. Copyright©.Glamorgan antiques.

Reproduction of these newsletters forbidden without the express permission of the Author

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