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On 15th November Geoff Hutchinson gave us an insight into the myths and legends of Christmas folklore.

In 32BC Herod was appointed King of the Jews by the Romans. It was a pagan custom to celebrate a birth, as was the winter solstice on 23rd December. The Christians knew the easy way to encourage Christian celebrations and incorporated the birth of Christ to an existing jolly but not until the 4thC. Christ was probably born in the summer, when the shepherd boys were in the hills – watching their flocks, not in the winter with the animals indoors.

Up to the 18th C. the 12 days of Christmas were celebrated and Christmas day was on the last day, 6th January. The Christmas meal was boar’s head in Scandinavian countries, Elizabeth 1st ate goose and there are earlier records of roast beef, venison, swan and peacock being served at the Christmas feast.

In 1542 Spain brought back turkeys from the New World. Sir Henry Cole sent the first Christmas cards in 1843 and the fashion was encouraged by the introduction of the 1d and 1/2d post in 1870’s.The hand drawn card sent by John Lennon to Brian Epstein in the 60’s was sold at auction in 2000 for $8,600.

Father Christmas is thought to be modelled on Odin, the white bearded gift bringer in Norse mythology.

Christmas pudding and mince pies were banned by the Puritans after the execution of Charles 1 in 1649. They demanded a day of fasting on December 25th and wondered why their edict was ignored!

Report written by Polly Chandler.

Last Revised: 22-Nov-2012

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